Leadership Inspirations Activities

Privilege Walk

Learn about other group members’ backgrounds and experiences so that everyone understands each other better

Duration

20-30 minutes

Team Stage

Norming, Performing

Type Of Activity

Experiential Activity

Materials

None

 

SUMMARY

This activity allows each group member to physically see the amount of privilege they have compared to others in the room. This information can be used to help group members understand each other and work together more effectively.

SET UP

  • Prepare a list of statements to use during this activity beforehand that are appropriate for your group and range from lower to higher risk. Examples are provided in the Instructions.
  • Have group members move to a space large enough for participants to form a straight line with room both behind and in front to move.
  • Facilitator Note: This is a high risk activity that requires trust building and safety for participants. Preface the activity by letting group members know that the purpose is not to blame anyone for having more power or privilege or for receiving more help in achieving goals, but to have an opportunity to identify both obstacles and benefits in life.

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Have participants form a straight line across the room about an arm’s length apart, leaving space in front and behind them to move.
  • State: Listen to the following statements, and follow the instructions given. For example, when I read “If you are a white male, take one step forward,” only white males will move and everyone else will stand still. Each step should be an average length step. No one is going to check up on you, so if you feel you qualify to take a step then do so, if not then you may stay where you are. You are the judge of what you should do.
  • Read statements one at a time allowing time for participants to take a step. Once participants have taken a step, allow others to look around to see who has moved or not.
  • Sample statements:
    • If you are a white male take one step forward
    • If there have been times in your life when you skipped a meal because there was no food in the house take one step backward
    • If you have visible or invisible disabilities take one step backward
    • If you attended school with people you felt were like yourself take one step forward
    • If you grew up in an urban setting take one step backward
    • If your family had health insurance take one step forward
    • If your work holidays coincide with religious holidays that you celebrate take one step forward
    • If you feel good about how your identified culture is portrayed by the media take one step forward
    • If you have been the victim of physical violence based on your gender, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation take one step backward
    • If you have ever felt passed over for an employment position based on your gender, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation take one step backward
    • If you were born in the United States take one step forward
    • If English is your first language take one step forward
    • If you have been divorced or impacted by divorce take one step backward
    • If you came from a supportive family environment take one step forward
    • If you have completed high school take one step forward
    • If you were able to complete college take one step forward
    • If you are a citizen of the United States take one step forward
    • If you took out loans for your education take one step backward
    • If you attended private school take one step forward
    • If you have ever felt unsafe walking alone at night take one step backward

VARIATIONS

  • Change the “risk” of the statements being read depending on the current stage of the group development model – lower risk questions if in forming, higher risk questions are appropriate if in norming or performing.
  • Instead of having participants step forward or backward, focus on only stepping forward. This will help students to realize that their experiences have made them who they are, not pushed them away from success.
  • For more conversations about privilege or power check out Privilege Throw.

SAMPLE DEBRIEFING QUESTIONS

What?
  • What was the goal of this activity?
  • Did your group do well? What could have improved?
  • How did your group make decisions? Was it effective or ineffective?
  • How did your group manage conflict that arose?
So What?

Group Dynamics

  • What are the traits that make someone successful on this team? What are the traits that make someone unsuccessful on this team?
  • What motivates our group?
  • How does our group dynamic affect the way we get work done?

Inclusion & Involvement

  • What does it mean to be inclusive or exclusive?
  • What did we do as a group that was inclusive? That was exclusive/not inclusive?
  • Why is inclusion and involvement important for our group?

Teambuilding

  • When has your group worked well together in the past? When have they not worked well together?
  • When has (something that happened in the activity) happened in the past with your group?
  • What habits or actions make a successful or effective team? What are your group’s opportunities for growth when working together?
Now What?
  • What does this activity tell you about the strengths of your group? The areas for improvement?
  • What’s one commitment each person can make?
  • What are three lessons the group has learned that they can continue to work on?
  • How can we implement these lessons in our school/organization?
  • What can you do differently moving forward?