2021 Equity Challenge Day 3: What Is Privilege?

When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else’s oppression, we’ll find our opportunities to make real change.

Ijeoma Oluo

Nigerian-American author of the New York Times bestseller “So You Want to Talk About Race”

Privilege is unearned access or advantages granted to specific groups of people because of their membership in a social group. Privilege can be based on a variety of social identities such as race, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, ability status, sexuality, age, education level and more.

Privilege can be experienced on personal, interpersonal and institutional levels. The social, economic, political and psychological unearned advantages that privileged groups hold come at the expense of marginalized groups. Within the United States, members of social groups that hold privileges (white, male, wealthy, able-bodied, etc.) have historically held dominance and power over targeted groups.

Some everyday examples of privilege:

  • An able-bodied person can make plans to visit somewhere new without concern for how the sidewalks are maintained or if the building has mobility supports like a working elevator or ramps. This is an example of able-body privilege.
  • White and light-skinned people can easily find and purchase products like bandages, makeup and stockings labeled “nude” or “flesh” that match their skin tone. This is an example of white privilege.
  • A person who can expect their work or school holiday schedule to reflect the religious holidays they celebrate has religious privilege.

Once someone acknowledges their privilege, they can move forward in leveraging that privilege to confront societal and institutional discrimination. Some ways a person can leverage their privilege are to have brave conversations with family and friends, advocate for folks without the same privileges, and utilize bystander intervention techniques to support someone you see being harassed because of their identity.



Privilege exists across many identities that people hold. Learn about various types of privilege here. (4 minutes)

Read this article to learn what white privilege is and how it is both unconsciously enjoyed and consciously perpetuated. (10 minutes)

Read this piece to learn more about how “white privilege exists in every aspect imaginable.” (10 minutes)


Privilege can be difficult to talk about and for us to fully grasp how it shows up in society. Watch this video to better understand the types of privileges that exist and why having conversations about privilege matters. (5 minutes)


Bystander intervention is a tool used to help folks stand with people experiencing harassment. Learn about the steps you can take to practice intervening. (5 minutes)

Reflect And Share:

  1. After reviewing today’s resources on privilege, reflect on your social identities in the context of the United States. In which areas are you privileged? Are there areas in which you are not experiencing privileges?
  2. Day One has a great Social Identity Wheel activity. If you have not done this yet, this is a great way to understand your social identities.
  3. Consider either a privilege given to a group of people or a privilege you hold. Where does that privilege come from? What systems or misconceptions perpetuate that privilege?
  4. How can you start conversations about privilege with your friends and/or family?
  5. What material from today do you still have questions about or want to learn more about? What are ways you can further explore those questions?


Start the conversation. Send the tweet. Share your story. Make the Facebook post. Sharing what you learn and experience with your family, friends, and co-workers is the first step toward allyship.

Join thousands in conversation by using hastag #EquityChallenge or #TakeTheEC21