Privilege, Injustice, and Inequality: The Conversation We Need To Be Having Right Now
June 2, 2020 by Justin Lehmiller
Most of you only know me as a sex educator and researcher, but I actually started my career teaching college courses on the psychology of prejudice—and I ended up teaching these courses for more than a decade until I left full-time academia. This was the most challenging class I ever taught because every day involved difficult conversations about privilege, injustice, and inequality.
For many students, it was their first time talking about these issues with a group diverse in race, ability status, sexuality, and gender. Students often said jaw-dropping things that led to awkward silence—racist things, sexist things, homophobic things, ableist thing. However, this was always followed by reflection, discussion, and growth.
This course created a space to talk, listen, and learn about difficult topics—topics that aren’t usually openly discussed outside of our own echo chambers. This experience was one of the most important of my career because it showed me that people can and do change when they’re willing to check their own personal biases, allow others to be seen and heard, and get uncomfortable—sometimes really uncomfortable—for a while.
Having seen this firsthand, I’ve been disheartened to scroll through my social media feed as of late because I’ve seen a lot of people talking past each other and cancelling or unfollowing anyone who disagrees with them or expresses a different view. Had we done the same thing in my classroom, we wouldn’t have gotten anywhere.
So let’s talk. I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled sex ed programming to show support for marginalized people everywhere, to stand up for a long string of racial and other injustices, and to create space for the conversations we desperately need to have right now.
I definitely don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I’m willing to listen, talk, learn how I can do better, and help in any way that I can, such as by sharing readings that helped many of my students to grow and change. I’ll start by recommending one of the books I always assigned in my course: Power, Privilege, and Difference.
I’m here. I see you. Let’s talk.
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >