Augusta University “privilege walk” offers unique approach to overcoming societal issues

Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017
(News 12 NBC 26 News At 11)

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — It’s a different kind of lesson Augusta University students are learning – a lesson about privilege.

Students and faculty gathered at the Summerville campus to have a privilege walk, a new kind of way to learn about what issues parts of society faced and the differences they saw growing up compared to other parts of society.

It’s a unique and relatively new way of looking at the issue and other controversial things people deal with on a daily basis, while also providing a new way to look at controversial issues like racism and sexism.

With just one step, Augusta University students are getting a new perspective.

“If you were never ashamed of your clothes, house, car, take a step back,” the announcer asked. “If you went to a private school or attended summer camp, take a step forward. If you saw members of your own race, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation positively portrayed on television, take one step forward.”

Slowly, the divide grew as audience members took steps forward while others stayed near the back of the room. It’s called a privilege walk and makes those who’ve grown up with advantages to stand next to those who can’t say the same.

“If you were ever called names because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take a step back,” asked the announcer. “If you ever had to skip a meal because there was not enough money for food growing up, take a step back. If you were ever stopped or questioned by the police because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.”

It’s part of a new wave of teaching younger students about accepting where they’ve come from in life and addressing issues like racism, sexism and homophobia. Issues Andrew Kemp says people are tired of talking about and not addressing.

“Most white people will say things like, ‘I’m not racist, I’m not sexist, I’m not homophobic, but no I’m not going to do anything about it either.’ It allows people to put up this buffer,” Kemp says, “so they don’t have to deal with the situation and they don’t have to give up anything of…

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