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Check Your 'Privilege'? Rethinking Our Relationship With A Powerful Word

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Seattle, Washington, August 17, 2015 - People are invited to participate in a public interactive art installation to expose racism as the"elephant in the room”.

John Duffy/Flickr

The national debate over the advantages and disadvantages given to some within our society has been raging throughout history. But the word "privilege" feels like it may be experiencing something of a renaissance.

You might be reminded these days to "check your privilege," i.e. acknowledge what "unearned advantages" — like your race, your gender, or your wealth — mean for your own life and what you are able to achieve in this country.

But is the word "privilege" actually holding back our national discourse around injustice? Writer Phoebe Maltz Bovy says using it as an accusation against others is detrimental, and doesn't advance important conversations about inequality. She's the author of the new book "The Perils of ‘Privilege': Why Injustice Can’t Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage," and an editor at The Forward.

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