Workshop Wednesday: Recognizing Privilege

This basic visual tool for sighted folks is best used for anti-oppression 101 workshops, and can be used as an alternative (or side-by-side) with privilege check-lists, privilege games and gaming analogies, and storytelling/group work activities. I especially like to use the handout Towards Healing All Our Relations / To Equalize Power Among Us by Margo Adair and Sharon Howell (Tools for Change) with this poster.

I go deeper into the intricacies of teaching the anti-oppressive concept of privilege in my article The P-Word, but I’ll briefly quote relevant parts regarding privilege check-lists below, end with an image description of the poster, and a photo of the original.

the point of explaining privilege is not to make people feel bad– it’s to realize the secret powers they never knew they had that can be used for the consensual benefit of their friends, loved ones, and communities.

Whether it’s the White Privilege Knapsack or the Power Flower or PrivilegeWalk/StepForward/Across the Grass, there is a checklist, diagram, or activity out there that lists all the possible privileges people may or may not have. The privilege checklists have become more nuanced, as well, with lists on ableism, transmisogyny, ageism, and neurotypicalism/saneism. Here’s a good list of lists from Not Actually a Liberal.


For people who have never thought of privilege before or can’t even imagine how they could be privileged, these lists lay it out in clear and concise terms.


Taken on their own, without a discussion about how these privileges can be used to help others that don’t have them, these lists and activities make people feel angry, guilty, and all sorts of feelings that need to be worked through before they even consider building allyship (or become accomplices) with others.

The lists lack nuance. They’re pretty one-dimensional, so it’s hard to illustrate how oppressions and privileges can intersect with each other, and how different institutions may enforce different kinds of barriers and oppression. For example, someone who doesn’t have white privilege but is able-bodied may have a completely different interaction with the able-bodied checklist than somebody who is able-bodied and white. Or they may not. Context also matters.

For folks that have multiple oppressions, having to go through these privilege checklists during a workshop can be really triggering, reminding them of all the painful, humiliating, violent, and exclusionary bullshit they have to go through on a daily basis. Because of this, I would suggest making sure that you bring multiple checklists so that folks choose to read the privilege that they have, a technique taught to me by Jade Pichette, another great anti-oppression facilitator.

Poster Description

The background is bright purple. There is a paler purple rectangle that serves as the title of the poster, and then below it is three black squares in a vertical line with pictures in them. To the right of the squares are blocks of white text and aqua blue headers. The title of the poster is “RECOGNIZING PRIVILEGE” with the first word in aqua blue and the second word in black. There is a sub-title in white that reads “learning how we can support others using advantages given to us by unfair systems”. There are two stylized bright purple magnifying glasses that are part of the title, which merge with the rest of the poster. The first black square has a stylized white picture of a lock and a shield/badge overlaid together. The header reads “SAFETY & SECURITY”. The text reads “In certain institutions and spaces, is your safety prioritized? Does the demographic you belong to face less violence than others? Is the majority of institutional leaders from your demographic? Are prisons and police not a major concern? Is exploitation of your demographic from institutions not a regular occurrence?” The second black square has a stylized white key in it. The header reads “INCLUSION & ACCESS”. The text reads “Are you the standard client most services are made for? Are institutional policies built around your needs and you navigate them with ease? Do you find there are a variety of options for your medical, legal, educational, business, domestic, entertainment, spiritual, and romantic needs?” The final black square has a stylized white speech bubble with a smiley face inside. The header reads “DIVERSE POSITIVE MESSAGING”. The text reads “Are people in your demographic represented by the media, politics, and business in a generally positive way? Do you find that new people you meet almost never harbour stereotypes about you so stereotypes don’t bother you? Do you feel you can achieve your dreams without institutional obstacles?” The bottom of the poster has the links “” and “” in aqua blue.

Want to have access to the larger full colour updated 2018 poster, the original photograph of the hand-drawn 2016 poster, and other anti-oppression related teaching tools? Click on the link below and subscribe for as little as $3/month. By becoming a patron, you support healing work among my communities, and the indigenous Elders that mentor me.