by Marsha Rakestraw
In 1989 the groundbreaking article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh brought significant attention to issues of privilege, especially privilege related to race and gender.
Since then the Privilege Walk and discussions about privilege have become common in many schools and universities.
But privilege isn’t limited to our relationships based on race, gender, country of origin, socioeconomic status, and so on. Privilege also extends to our relationships with nonhuman animals and the earth.
Created by Valerie Smith, the activity I Think Therefore I Act, which is based on the Privilege Walk concept, takes students on a “humane walk” and encourages them to develop an awareness of the kinds of choices we make every day that impact other people, nonhuman animals, and the environment.
For grades 9 and older, this activity offers statements focused on our choices related to food, transportation, citizenship, diversity, respect for other beings, and more. After students complete their humane walk, they have an opportunity to reflect, as well as to consider how privilege can free us to live more humanely, and to develop positive solutions that benefit all.