In our society, there are things that we all value collectively and we tend to prefer those individuals who value the same things and belong to similar social groups as us.

Privileged Groups

Typically, the things that our society values and prefers are represented and created by privileged groups. Here are examples of privileged social identity groups in the context of the U.S.

Race    White  
Ethnicity    European American  
Gender    Men, Cisgender  
Sexual Orientation    Heterosexual  
Ability Status    Currently able -bodied and neuro-typical  
Social Class    Middle-Class, Upper-Middle-Class, and Upper-Class  
Worldview (religion, spirituality, and other values)    Christians 
Nationality    U.S. 
Language    English  
Education  Doctor, Lawyer, Engineer 

Let’s think about education as an example. We tend to prefer individuals with more advanced education, especially, in areas that are considered important (i.e., medical fields, law, engineering) and shun those who do not hold that advanced education. In this example, those with membership in the valued group hold privilege. They tend to reap the benefits of having the preferred status of what’s valued in society. Those who do not hold membership within the valued group do not hold privilege. As a result, they tend to experience the disadvantages of that non-valued social status.

Thinking about our privileges can bring some defensiveness. Defensiveness is our body and mind’s way of keeping us comfortable and unchallenged.


As you read each statement, reflect on what it’s like to experience each privilege:

  • I don’t have to go to unemployment agencies to learn about job opportunities

  • I have access to information and networking opportunities that are not readily available to the general public

  • I can be confident that my co-workers won’t expect that I got my job because of my race

  • I will never be expected to change my name after getting married, or be questioned if I don’t

  • I can expect to see religious leaders of my gender represented in every major world religion

  • Decisions to hire me won’t consider my race or national origin

  • My able-bodied status gives me easy access to public facilities

  • Decisions to hire me won’t consider whether I may decide to start a family anytime soon

Ask yourself the following questions: 

  • What emotions did you notice coming up for you? When did you notice these?
  • Which statements surprised you the most? What about them were surprising?
  • How are you more aware now?
  • What would you like to do with your new awareness?