You don’t have to be white to be part of a dominant group in society. That’s one of the lessons I learned in 2018 at the Diversity Awareness Workshop hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
The workshop pointed out my own misconceptions of my particular privileges. Granted, being ignorant about your status is a basic tenet of being in a position of privilege, but I’d generally only thought about the concept in terms of race. Identifying as a mixed-race person of Asian American heritage, I didn’t consider myself part of society’s most privileged class. But the workshop explained that society is divided into groups of dominant and subordinate identities along many lines: race, gender, ability, levels of education and more.
Being in the dominant group in any category translates to benefitting from countless aspects of life being structured to make things easy for me. Thus, I now think about issues through that lens — a habit since that workshop — which shapes how I describe basic information or even colloquialisms I use when writing. For example, when describing the layout of UC Davis’ in-person commencement ceremonies, I remember not to say “walk” somewhere after checking in, since many people use wheelchairs for mobility and don’t walk at all.
Attend a workshop
For those interested, the next Diversity Awareness Workshop is scheduled for Aug. 26-27, and an interest and nomination form is available online until Aug. 6.