If you’ve read the title of this quiz and are groaning about social justice warriors, or how the world is becoming too politically correct, or that you’re tired of being picked on for having a decent life, please just hear me out.
One of the biggest points about privilege is that those who have it aren’t always aware that they’re privileged. As a person, you look forward to what others who are more privileged than you have, and that’s what you aspire to (talking generally, of course). When you’re so intent on looking forward, you forget to look back at the people who are less privileged than you are. It becomes a matter of “out of sight, out of mind.”
My favourite analogy involves a classroom. Everyone has a seat, and the seats go from the very front to the very back of the room. The instructor places a trash can at the front and says, “If you can throw a paper ball into here from your seat, you get an A.”
The people at the front are ecstatic, because the trash can is so close to them. It would be so easy to get that A, so they make their shot and high-five their friends sitting close by, and they ignore the shouts and calls from the back of the room telling the instructor that this is unfair.
At the front, the students there have already won and they’re going, “This is fair. See? We managed to do it.”
The people in the back are calling back going, “But you started so much closer to the goal!”
That is privilege. You start closer to the goal and if you’re unaware of your privilege, you don’t think about all the people behind you struggling for the same success.
So take this quiz to see how truly privileged you are, and find out what you can do to use that privilege (if you have it) to make lives better for the people at the back of the classroom.
Count how many of these statements are true for you.
I have no learning disabilities.
I have never been sexually harassed or assaulted.
I have never been told that I’m pretty/handsome/attractive for my race.
I have never been asked ‘where I’m from’.
I have never been threatened or assaulted because of my sexuality.
I have owned a car.
I have never been homeless.
I have never had an addiction.
I have never felt forced to lie my ethnicity and/or religious beliefs.
I have never been called a racial slur.
I don’t need to use public transit.
I have never been told my sexuality is “just a phase.”
I have never been threatened or attacked because of my religious beliefs.
I have never gone to bed hungry.
I have never felt unsafe because of my gender.
I have no physical disabilities.
I can afford medication when I need it.
I still identify as the gender typically associated with my biological sex.
I have never experienced discrimination because of the colour of my skin.
I have never been called a derogatory slur because of my sexuality.
I have no mental disabilities or illnesses.
My parents or guardians pay some or all of my bills.
I have had family pay for at least part of my tuition.
I have never been randomly screened in an airport or at a border crossing.
I have never worked in retail or customer service.
I have never been shamed for my body type.
17–24: Congratulations, you are a privileged person. It might not feel like it, but you’re pretty lucky. Please, take a re-read of the questions above and think about what kind of life you would lead if you had identified with only 10 of the statements, or only three or four.
Now, think about what would make that hypothetical life of yours better. Better access to scholarships and government funding? Protests calling out racism, sexism, homophobia, and the mixed abuse of freedom of speech with freedom of religion? Easier access to help and less stigma surrounding disabilities? A living minimum wage?
Think about that, and then help fight and advocate for those universal life improvements.
8–16: You’re not super underprivileged, but neither are you super privileged. You’re middle of the class! However, that means that you do have privilege in some aspects of your life. So be aware that although there are people ahead of you, closer to the trash can, there are also plenty of others behind you, struggling to get just where you are.
So if you’re already fighting for some changes, right on. If you’re not, your voice will be a welcome addition both
0–7: Being in the back of the class sucks, but hopefully the people in front of you are realizing and becoming aware of their positions in society, and are accepting the responsibility to help everyone behind them get closer to the goal. So keep calling attention to the injustices, and we’ll all work together to make the world a better place.
If the people who have privilege, who are the ones that others in positions of power will listen to the most, don’t help advocate for the social and structural changes needed to improve the lives of others, then it will take far longer to bring about change.