Lesson 2: Exploring Our Identities

The theme of our second session was Exploring Our Identities.

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, because we do not live single-issue lives.” – Audre Lorde

We did an exercise based around identifying areas of privilege and power in our own lives:

http://www.differencematters.info/uploads/pdf/privilege-beads-exercise.pdf

As it says in the facilitator notes for this exercise, this isn’t about feeling bad about our privilege or lack thereof, it’s about cataloging the places where we might have the power to make social change happen. We need to understand where we have access that isn’t available to others, so that we can all work together effectively to create a better world.

If you’re interested in exploring further, this comic does an excellent job of articulating how unearned privilege can potentially play out in a specific life:

http://thewireless.co.nz/articles/the-pencilsword-on-a-plate

This famous essay, by Peggy McIntosh, focuses on whiteness, but it can be useful for other intersections. Try running through the exercise that she undertakes: to list the conditions that are true for her life, but not other people in her community, due to her identity.

https://nationalseedproject.org/white-privilege-unpacking-the-invisible-knapsack

This is a toolkit for facilitating group discussions on identity and privilege, but many of the exercises can be done alone or in pairs. Challenge yourself to try one of them over the next two weeks, perhaps with your partner:

https://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/diversity-workshop-guide-to-discussing-identity-power-and-privilege/

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