What Privilege? is a creative, critical literacy game to notice, disrupt and reframe power and privilege.
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We have created 50 colonizing characters to explore how power and privilege arise in our daily interactions.
Each character hides their violence behind ‘common sense’ values, their well-intended beliefs and pseudo-inclusivity, but don't be fooled, they are the organizing force (and pacifying and enabling power) behind the shock doctrine of intersectional violence.
We use the cards and games to examine our shared values, rehearse / negotiate acts of solidarity and highlight existing community resistance.
Why explore power and privilege?
We want to reflect the entangled messiness of power and privilege in Australia - to ask, if 'The Colony', the dominante culture we live in, determines our shared future, what will we do?
We want to explore the ongoing reality of colonization and empire, which the colonized are forced to engage with to survive, while the privileged can often afford to ignore and perpetuate: from everyday patronizing ‘service’, ignorance, privileged excuses, governmental sabotage, to outright supremacy.
We all want control in our lives and negotiating this with others is complex, messy and often frustrating. Every human exchange involves these complex power dynamics and a multitude of privileges.
We tend to outsource power and privilege to 'evil' individuals we can point a finger at - dump it at Hitler's feet and move on - but it is a system of intersecting stories, spun on a global scale, that valorizes specific groups of people, their beliefs and actions, to enforce submission and enslavement of everything else.
Great for the privileged, but not so cool for the planet, so why do we all seem to participate?
Most human societies on the planet privilege some members and oppress others and over time these collective stories can appear as if they are 'natural', ['women are better nurtures'], and individuals embrace privileged narratives to explain their 'success', ['I earned it, it's common sense, in everyone's best interest...'].
It can feel hard to consider and explore the often centuries old 'hidden' or entrenched stories that reinforce why it appears some people 'just have it', while others appear to 'lack what it takes'.
It's not surprising we invent stories of us and them, but as an organizing principle it requires a lot of effort to maintain these competitive divisions, [wars, taboos, elaborate rituals] because humans have a tenancy to co-operate without violence.
We believe to uncover the multiplicity of human exchanges possible, we will first need to individually explore how we use power and privilege, so we can playfully train to notice, disrupt and reframe how we can live together equitablty - there are exciting examples past and present we can reference.
How can we create a just, equitable and sustainable future together?
The global crises we face are not accidental, but interconnected and fueled by privileged stories that are destroying us all.
To name a few - the for-profit driven destruction of land, air and water habitats, [the planet we live on], the resulting catastrophic climatic shifts, mass extinctions, the globalization of a monopolizing, competitive human exchange, anti-life corporate domination of our commons, food production, health, jobs, communication, beliefs, technology, imagination..., flow of wealth from the public to the very few, increasing national and personal debt, sigularity, job insecurity, alienation, inequality, war, fear and extremism.
A few individuals are determining our collective future, based on their amassed wealth, based on centuries of privileged stories that provided them with the capacity and belief they have the 'right' to enslave everything - people, planet and beyond.
Ah, but if it's not a few 'evil' people, how are we involved?
Systematic privileges operate globally and individually, we can notice how we contribute, disrupt oppressive situations in solidarity with targeted people, those people 'not privilege' but oppressed by these stories and negotiate and reframe how we can create together.
At any moment we can say we don't want to play this game anymore - and explore new games that recognize power is something we all play, and privilege is the magic 'cognitive dissonance' that helps us 'benignly' dominate.
Come and play another game, what have we got to lose?
The thinking behind the thinking
'The most violent element in society is ignorance.' Emma Goldman