ENG3UU2L1: Pre-Reading Activity

December 17, 2014:

Novels will be distributed on FRIDAY. 

Today we will begin to consider issues of power and privilege. Over the last few classes, you watched segments from "The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow". Students were expected to take notes and keep them as background for the novel. Today, we will read Peggy McIntosh's "Unpacking the Invisible Backpack" and consider the following:

McIntosh points out that:

since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion or sexual orientation. … In addition, it is hard to disentangle aspects of unearned advantage which rest more on social class, economic class, race, religion, sex and ethnic identity than on other factors… all of the oppressions are interlocking.

Consider then your position in the hierarchies of power and privilege. Does #4 apply to you even if you are white? Or because of your age, are you scrutinized more in stores? When I was a teen, my friends and I often observed that we were followed & scrutinized in stores because of our age. We (regardless of our skin colour- though for those of us who were not white its was even more pronounced, remember these systems intersect) did not have this privilege. 

Unpack your invisible backpack. List the first 10-20 items that you can think of that are in it. Remember to consider all of the advantaging systems and (note that McIntosh does this when she says “because of my race”) note which one(s) are at work. For example:

4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed because of my race or age.

Once you have completed your list, please write a one-page reflection on your findings. Do you agree with Peggy McIntosh’s ideas? Why or why not? How do you see power/privilege at work in your life (for better or worse)?

Homework: due Dec 19

Reflections and lists are due!