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Privilege Walk for Teens

What Is a Privilege Walk?

A Privilege Walk is an exercise where participants consider how circumstances in their lives can be benefits or detriments. These are circumstances which are beyond their control, largely related to the families they were born into and the resources they have. Based on conditions, they take one step forward or one step back. The idea is that the more privileged members of the group will end up in front.

The point of this exercise is not to make those in front feel guilty or those in back feel hopeless. Instead, a debrief should include a discussion of how we as a society can level the playing field.  Other good discussion points include why these factors have an impact.

The members of the privileged group might have some resistance to some of these ideas. It is our nature to believe that we have earned our advantages. The less privileged group might feel emotional about some of their experiences.  Keep any discussion afterwards nonjudgmental. Set up some ground rules about respecting other viewpoints before your debrief.

Privilege Walk Characters

If your group is homogeneous, then this walk might not have the impact you want. In this case, you can assign each person a character, and the teens try to imagine what life is for that character. Then they do the walk according to that point of view.

Privilege Walk Questions

  1. If one or both of your parents has a college degree, take one step forward.
  2. If one of your parents works two jobs, take one step back.
  3. If your family has two or more cars, take one step forward.
  4. If you are right-handed, take one step forward.
  5. If you have a disability, take one step back.
  6. If you are worried about going out in your neighborhood at night, take one step back.
  7. If your family hires someone to clean the house, take care of the lawn, or something similar, take one step forward.
  8. If you studied the contributions of your culture to American history, take one step forward.
  9. If you have walked into a store and felt like the owner was watching you because of the color of your skin or the way you were dressed, take one step back.
  10. If you are male, take one step forward.
  11. If you see positive role models of your race most times when you turn on the TV, take one step forward.
  12. If you don't hesitate to call the police when you have a problem, take one step forward.
  13. If your family has a computer, take one step forward.
  14. If one of your parents has a foreign accent, take one step back.
  15. If you ever missed a meal because there was not food in your home, take one step back.
  16. If your family does not worry about the cost before going to the doctor or the dentist, take one step forward.
  17. If you ever changed your appearance to fit in, take one step back.
  18. If both of your parents were born in the US take one step forward.
  19. If your family assumes you will go to college, take one step forward.
  20. If your parents completed high school, take one step forward
  21. If your parents have ever said you that you can be anything you want to be, take one step forward.
  22. If your family has health insurance take one step forward.
  23. If your parents are divorced, take one step back.
  24. If you can afford to go to a fast food restaurant whenever you want to, take one step forward.
  25. If there was ever drug or alcohol abuse in your household, take one step back.
  26. If you come from a single-parent household, take one step back.
  27. If you belong to a race, ethnicity, or religion which is ridiculed or the subject of jokes, take one step back.
  28. If you go on a family vacation every year, take one step forward.
  29. If you have more than thirty books in your household, take one step forward.

Printable Copy of Privilege Walk Questions

Printable Copy of Privilege Walk Characters

What Is Privilege? Video

This video uses a different set of questions but it gives the idea of how to do it.

lesson plans and reflections
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Lesson Plans and Reflections

Many of these lesson plans also include games, an appropriate prayer, and a challenge for the coming week. You can also find and share ideas in the Catholic Moms, Dads, Catechists, and Teachers Facebook Group.

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