Take The White Privilege Pop Quiz For Trayvon Martin: It's The Test You Can't Fail
January 16, 2015
The following is a brief excerpt from a chapter in The White Privilege Pop Quiz: The Test You Can't Fail.
Since its' original posting in February 2012, over 100,000 people have taken the survey. Why is that a big deal? Simply because there is the potential that 100,000 people have seen something in themselves that they didn't know existed before.
Please tweet, post, blog, incorporate it in your news coverage, share it with your classroom and pass on. Although this is not a cure or solution by any means, the more people take the quiz, the greater the possibility for an enlightened discussion about race. And wouldn't that be nice?
In light of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin (and the dozens of young black and brown youth who since 2011 have met the same fate as Martin), the desperate need for a national dialog on race, this quick quiz is for sharing with those who are perhaps curious, doubtful or even insistent that such a thing as 'white privilege' doesn't exist. And while some people accept that privileges exist, they assume that privileges are afforded only to the wealthy. In the age of short attention spans, I have included a partial list of questions that are meant to foster discussion.
The following questions are some I've used in workshop/discussions situations to set a context for this thing called 'white privilege' and help people understand what it means. It's not all that mysterious really but as white folks, most haven't really had to think that much about it. And that is the number one privilege, isn't it? To not have to think about it.
As for the quiz: It's simple, quick and there are no wrong answers--only truthful ones. Perhaps one or two of them will point you in a direction or inspire you to think more deeply.
Although there is no 'scoring' per say, If you answer 3 or 4 for most (or many) of the questions, there's a very good chance you are someone who is very familiar with white privilege and experiences it on a daily basis.
This quiz is meant to encourage those classified as white to explore more honestly and deeply how our internalized racial fears and biases continue to thrive--even against our best intentions. And what is most important is that we understand that internalized racial biases and fears prevent people from getting an education, over populate our prisons and cause death--as in the case of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and too many others.
Whiteness is not a problem per se but unrecognized privileges as a result of whiteness, and what it means is certainly problematic.
Please feel free to share with friends, family members and co-workers. Although this is an introductory sampling of questions to generate thought, the complete book will be out with specific examples and detailed explanations--one of these days. In the meantime, add your own, share the quiz with a friend and keep the conversation going.
There are numerous books on 'whiteness' and privilege--including several by Tim Wise and Paul Kivel--and many others who have explored and faced 'whiteness'.
Just so there is no misunderstanding. This pop quiz for TrayvonMartin was inspired and informed by many folks over the years including Peggy Macintosh, Dr. Jacqui Wade, Dr. Ray Winbush, Dr. Eddie Moore Jr, Jesse Villalobos, Tim Wise, Francie Kendall, Victor Lee Lewis, Jorge Zeballos, Paul Kivel and many MANY others.
So take the White Privilege Pop Quiz: The Test You Can't Fail and remember, the only way you can fail is by doing nothing afterwards. So do it. Do it for Trayvon Martin. Do it for Michael Brown. Do it for yourself. Do it for all of us.
White Privilege Pop Quiz: The Test You Can't Fail
by Molly Secours (Copyright Molly Secours 2012)
A) When was the first time you were made aware of your racial identity and realized that your 'race' would play a pivotal role in the challenges you faced on a daily basis.
Discuss: How old were you? What happened? What kind of Impact did it have on you? How did it change your hopes, dreams and goals?
B) How often are you reminded about being the race with which you identify?
1) several times a day
2) once a day
3) several times a week
4) once a month
Discuss: Tell a story about a recent situation where you were reminded of your race. What caused you to think about it?
C) As a child how often were you given safety instructions on how to walk through a department store or public establishment in a way that did not foster suspicion or attract attention?
Discuss: Tell a story about feeling watched, followed or suspected of wrong doing and how it affected your sense of safety.
D) How often have you been (or are you now) coached by parents or guardians or family members on how to behave or what to say in order to avoid being perceived as dangerous or menacing when confronted by law enforcement, teachers or authority figures?
Discuss: Describe the last time you were detained by authority figures and felt unsafe. Describe the time before that. And the time before that.
E) How often do you talk with close friends and family members (or just wonder to yourself) whether or not your racial identity is negatively impacting your daily interactions with others.
2) once a week
3) once a month
4) once a year
Discuss: What was the last situation? Did you feel comfortable confronting or discussing with the other people involved?
F) How often have you wondered if your race negatively impacted a job interview, a grade, a confrontation with a co-worker or a friend?
1) too many to count
Discuss: What were the circumstances? How have you learned to cope with the uncertainty?
G) How often are you the only person (or very few) of your identified race in daily activities? Including Church, school, bars, nightclubs etc?
Discuss: What are the circumstances and does your behavior change when you are no longer in those environments?
H) Have you ever been tempted to deny your racial identity in order to feel more comfortable in a particular setting or to have an advantage?
Discuss: Describe the situation.
I) Have you ever found yourself feeling frustrated, invisible or ashamed in a history class because you felt ‘your people’ weren’t represented (or represented accurately) in “His-story”.
1) yes, always
2) yes, often
3) yes, sometimes
Discuss: Describe the circumstances. Were you able to express your concerns with teachers and classmates? Were you penalized for speaking up? How was it received?
J) While watching television or movies do you often feel that people who look like you or are racially/culturally connected to you are not represented (or misrepresented) in the media?
1) yes, always
2) yes, often
3) yes, sometimes
Discuss: What was the last movie or program you viewed that left you feeling this way? Why?
K) How often have you been challenged and/or corrected by someone about how ‘you identify’ racially?
1) more than 5 times
2) several times
L) How often have you adjusted your behavior out of concern that people might assume or suspect you to be lazy, inarticulate, untrustworthy, criminal, or unintelligent because of your race.
1) more than 5 times
2) several times
Discuss: Explain your answer
M) How often do you notice that the majority of authority figures in your school career or work environment--who sign your checks or supervise your daily activities--are identified with another race and/or culture?
Discuss: How (if at all) does this affect your performance and/or comfort level?
N) How often do you feel in need of reassurance (or to reassure other family members) you/they are ‘just as good as’ (not better) than someone of another racial group because of a negative experience?
O) How often have you wondered if something you said or did in a public setting might reflect negatively on your identified race?
Congratulations! You just took the first step.
While this condensed version of the quiz is not meant to be conclusive, the sampling of questions may help begin a dialog with others--but most importantly with yourself. If you answered numbers 3, 4 or 5 for more than 3 questions then you are someone who experiences white privilege. If you answered number 3, 4 or 5 for more than 7 questions, then you are definitely a 'card carrying member' of white privilege. And if you answered 3, 4 or 5 for more than 10 questions, let's just say, 'it's a done deal'.
Remember, the first sign of privilege is that you don't have to think about it. And after acknowledging privilege some even say ""So why should I care about whether or not I experience white privilege?
As we all learned this week with Trayvon Martin, unchecked whiteness (and all the assumptions that it fosters) is a matter of life and death for those who encounter it.
The White Privilege Pop Quiz: The Test You Can't Fail (Copyright Molly Secours 2012)