Coming to Terms with Social Systems We did not Invent

April 12, 2018
Phillips Auditorium
Wellesley College

Most of us were born into a world in which we were not explicitly taught how gender, race, and class advantage would shape our thinking and our life outcomes. But in the 21st century, we have better tools to see how ascribed power and unearned privilege can be seen and used consciously to combat privilege. I will discuss several ways of doing this. We can recognize and thus stop internalizing inferiority and superiority. We can resist myths of meritocracy, monoculture, and manifest destiny. We can use unearned privilege to weaken systems of unearned privilege. We can improve the telling of history if we learn from one another, whether privileged or oppressed. We need to realize that being a nice person does not lessen the habits that come from being born into an oppressive group. We are needed by the society to use our brains unapologetically and positively to create better and smarter workplaces, institutions, and disciplines. I will distribute a list of eight ways in which those in a group that is dominant by gender or race can use their power to better distribute power and respect within an institution.

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