Personal Privilege Analysis

In the first chapter of Allan Johnson's Privilege, Power And Difference, the author takes a fairly long, roundabout way of identifying what he believes to be the primary problems in society. In no particular order, those problems are essentially racism, sexism, classicism, and other forms of prejudice which enable certain individuals (heterosexual Caucasian males who are not disabled) to benefit from a system of privilege that systematically oppresses those who do not fit into this narrow category. The author makes use of anecdotes such as walking his dogs and eating lunch with a co-worker to make this point, and also identifies that he has written Privilege, Power And Difference to be able to break down some of the barriers of privilege to be able to spread a social equality that will ideally embrace minorities, disabled people, homosexuals, and other forms of people who are not considered privileged.

One of Johnson's main points was that he thought that people spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about their relationship to the privileges he believes to be at work in society. At the same time, however, I think what he was saying about women and their consideration of safety issues is fairly true.

3. I certainly don't spend too much time thinking about such things as power and privileges in relationships, and I wonder how accurate a sentiment this particular thought of Johnson's is. Personally, I engage in a lot of behavior that women more than likely would not, doing activities at certain hours of the night and in locations where women would have to consider their safety a lot more so than I would. I take out the garbage late at night in my underwear since I live alone and it's so hot. No one gives it a second glance. In all likelihood, women would not be able to do the same thing.

4. If I could ask the author one question it would be why did he capitalize the nationalities of Native Americans, Latinos, and other minority groups, yet lower case African-Americans (who he refers to as blacks)?

1. In the second chapter, Johnson presents his interpretation for what exactly he means when he uses the tem privilege -- which is essentially an advantage that someone of a certain social classification has that others, who are not part of that classification, do not have. The author goes on to say how the very term privilege brings up the same unwanted, negative connotations in people that words such as racism and oppression have. The author believes that in order to ultimately get rid of privilege ( and ideally the concepts he says are similar to them such as classicism, racism, and the other forms of prejudice that exist) people must get beyond the negative connotations of the word (and words) and face facts for how they actually are.

2. I was not too aware of the fact that Caucasian people found the term privileged to be offensive. I am not sure exactly why they may get offended at the term. Perhaps some people prefer to believe that they get the privileges they do because they have worked hard to get them. Also, I am not so sure how accurate Johnson is when he sates that words that reflect prejudice such as racism privilege, and other such words, need to be discussed in order to get beyond the constraints that they hold society in.

3. I certainly would not feel offended if someone were to describe me or regard me as privileged, however. Children do not know what such words mean, and they do not seem to be limited by the concepts those words reflect -- they simply play with whoever they like.

4. If I were to ask Johnson a question about this chapter, I would ask him if he does not think that he is merely adding energy to these concepts by dedicating a whole book to them and the privilege which they afford others.

1. Chapter three was easily one of the most interesting chapters, as within it, the author detailed significant historical information about capitalism, and drew a number of parallels between the founding of this institution and prejudice in terms of racism and classicism which still exists to this day. The author rightfully believes that capitalism spawns classicism as well as sexism, due to the fact that much of America's capitalist society is based upon the domestic labor of women within households -- labor that's largely unpaid. This chapter also details how a capitalist system "capitalizes" on the poor, which of course benefits the rich. This chapter also relates white supremacy and African-American enslavement to the notions of racism that are still prevalent.

2. Johnson made a good point about capitalism largely being born on the backs of women, who have been domesticated and must labor at home in an unpaid capacity to do so. He also made another interesting point that I also tend to agree with when he acknowledged that it is possible for someone to belong to both privilege and unprivileged categories at the same time.

3. The first issue in which capitalism reinforces sexism by keeping women working for free at home applies to me since I was a product of such labor, largely due to the efforts of my mother to raise my brother and me correctly -- although she did have a lot of help from my dad. Also, it is interesting to see how people can belong to more than one privileged category. For a Caucasian woman, for example, she belongs to what Johnson refers as the "privileged" race, yet in certain aspects of her life just due to the fact that she's a woman, she may feel some of the inverse effects of such privilege.

4. I would ask Johnson if he's considered the fact that in certain situations (say at a nightclub or at an expensive restaurant), the "underprivileged sex" enjoys distinct advantages not held by males.

1. In Chapter 4, the author primarily discusses how notions of privilege are used to reinforce certain examples of stereotypes. In fact, in many cases, there are a number of subtleties avoiding or excluding people, in which there is a value judgment (or a devaluing, rather) of another that is hard to detect unless one were specifically looking for it. A good example provided in this chapter is how complimenting someone from an underprivileged class implicitly contains an element of surprise, or devaluing of that class that the person is in. Essentially, stereotypes take root when people from privileged populations become challenged by those from underprivileged groups. Interesting of all is the point that Johnson continually makes throughout this entire manuscript (and again in Chapter 4) that virtually everyone is to blame for the social system that perpetuates prejudice in the form of racism, classicism, sexism, etc.

2. I'm not sure that I agree with Johnson's general idea that everyone is responsible for systems of prejudice. In many cases, it seems as though certain populations are judged no matter what they do. I do agree with the system of stereotyping and its creation that he outlines, however. I also think the media plays a large part in passing along stereotypes as well.

3. I suppose I am responsible, to a certain degree, for reinforcing certain systems of prejudice. For example, when there is a nice looking woman, it can be hard to treat her the same as I would an ugly guy. I definitely see examples of stereotypes in the media. All one needs to do is look at movies, for instance, of African-American characters and interests, and the stereotypes are readily apparent. This relates to my life because I know there is someone in Hollywood creating…