21 Examples of Academic Privilege, Personal Reflections Part II

As with all systems of privilege, we are so accustomed to the associated benefits that they go unnoticed, unless we are keenly conscious. This posting serves as a kind of part 2 (see part 1 here) of my personal journey to understand privilege in my own life. Below are 21 examples of academic or scholarly privilege in the order I have thought of them. Items here are not intended to be arrogant or to suggest that scholars should have these privileges and others should not. As individuals with advanced degrees, we need to use this privilege with care and do what we can to help others have these privileges. Please leave thoughts and more examples in the comments.     

  1. I can easily defend any side of any argument with little or no preparation and win.
  2. Doctors, nurses, or lawyers, for example, listen to me closer and have a greater respect for my needs because we are both educated and speak jargon.
  3. I can easily locate and purchase access to information, such as books, computers, articles, or conferences.
  4. I am not easily scared by media hype or persuaded by cultural trends.
  5. I can work when and where I want and have almost total freedom in what I do.
  6. I can easily contact other specialists and “higher ups” using my credentials and circle of friends.
  7. I am asked to speak for various social groups for which I have no personal affiliation.
  8. Any quirks I have are attributed to success, not failure.
  9. I can easily tear apart virtually anything in terms of its logic, writing style, presentation, etc.
  10. I can safely criticize the police, the president, my nation, or even my job with little fear of retaliation.
  11. I can easily take for granted that I have a very comfortable and luxurious life.
  12. I always have important and urgent work to do.
  13. If I wish, I can easily impress people.
  14. Many of my close friends are also all “school smart” and called (or almost called) Doctor or Professor.
  15. I can make any comment as complex or as easy to understand as I wish.
  16. I can easily get out of jury duty.
  17. If I am ever involved in a car accident or any other unfortunate event, my version of events will likely automatically have more credibility.
  18. Learning is safe and comfortable for me.
  19. As I go throughout my day, I can easily interact with like-minded individuals and individuals who share my race, gender, etc. if I choose.
  20. My schedule and finances allow me to easily attend concerts, movies, or other events as I like.
  21. If I desire, I can easily volunteer for any organization of my choice and likely quickly become a leader.

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Categories: Thoughts and Perspectives

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4 replies

  1. Great article! Question for you: are numbers 1, 4, 9, 13, 15, and 21 really examples of privilege, or rather, are they valuable skills and abilities you’ve acquired as a result of your profession?

    Like

  2. Great article! Question for you: are numbers 1, 4, 9, 13, 15, and 21 really examples of privilege, or rather, are they valuable skills and abilities you’ve acquired as a result of your profession?

    Like

  3. @derekluxe

    Thanks, my friend!

    Good question. It’s a difficult one, too. Here are some thoughts:

    I would say it’s still about privilege for a few reasons. Sure training is part of it – but the training is so restricted. First and for most, there are entirely different sets of privilege that have played huge roles in allowing me (and others) the opportunity to go to college and graduate school.

    Second, these are things that tend to automatically provide benefits. These benefits because they are not applied equally are privileges. I tend to believe that if everyone was given a truly fair and equal (read: equitable) chance from the start, everyone would have the opportunity and ability to do anything. These privileges are not necessarily things we ask for or have truly earned.

    It also involves elements of social construction. Just like our society has historically said “white” is better than “black,” “male” better than “female,” etc, being formally educated is better than any alternatives. We could easily live in a society where the situation was different.

    Perhaps also if we look at other lists looking at different types of privilege we could say the same thing. That it’s about training and ability vs privilege per se. The boundary is a very fuzzy one.

    I’m still thinking about your question. 🙂

    Like

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  1. Understanding Privilege: A Conversation about Personal Understandings « Andrew Joseph Pegoda, A.B.D.

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