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Many educators and activists use privilege walks as an experiential activity to highlight how people benefit or are marginalized by systems in our society. 


To discuss the complicated intersections of privileges and marginalization in a less confrontational, but a more reflective way.


  • Time: 15~20 minutes for the Privilege Walk; 45~60 minutes for the debriefing
  • Materials:
    • A wide open space, e.g. a classroom with all chairs and tables pushed back, an auditorium or a gymnasium
    • Chairs to form a circle for the debriefing
    • Painter’s tape to make an initial line for participants
    • Optional: tape or other materials to draw lines to indicate where to step back or forth


  1. Distribute one post-it to participants and ask them to write a life goal on it, wrap it in half and draw a symbol on it that will help them identify it later.
  2. Have participants line up in a straight line across the middle of the room with plenty of space to move forward and backward as the exercise proceeds.
  3. (Optional) Tell to the first 6 people of the group that for the next activity you will ask them to imagine that they are young refugees that live in their country and that they will answer the statements of the activity from the perspective of this identity.
  4. Ask participants to walk straight to the end of the room/space and place their post-it on the floor, with the symbol visible.
  5. Have participants return on the line and hold hands. Important: Make sure to ask participants if they are comfortable touching and being touched by others. If some are not, do not make them and do not make a big deal out of it.
  6. You may give an explanation about the activity, how it is intended to educate about privilege, and what exactly is privilege, or you can send students into the activity with no such background.
  7. Read the following to participants:

“I will read statements aloud. Please move if a statement applies to you. If you do not feel comfortable acknowledging a statement that applies to you, simply do not move when it is read. No one else will know whether it applies to you.”

  1. Begin reading statements aloud in a clear voice, pausing slightly after each one. The pause can be as long or as short as desired.
  2. When you have finished the statements, ask participants to take note of where they are in the room in relation to others.
  3. Tell participants that they will now race for reaching their post-its/life goals. The starting point will be the position where they currently are.
  4. Start the race, allow participants to grab their life goal post-it.
  5. Regroup everyone into the circle for debriefing and discussion.


  • How did it feel to be part of this activity?
  • What questions/statements made you think most?
  • What did you feel like being in the front of the group? In the back? In the middle?
  • If you broke contact with the person beside you, how did you feel in that moment?
  • (for the optional approach) For the ones who took the identity of a refugee, what do you think would have been your position if you kept your personal identity?
  • What do you think your position would have been if you were a refugee who found protection if your country? How would you have related to those questions?
  • Do you see this activity as a metaphor/representation of a real life? What aspect of real life do you think it reflects?
  • How can your understanding of your privileges or marginalization improve your existing relationships with yourself and others?
  • If you could add a question, what would it be?



Peace Learner,, 08-30-2019

The activity that inspired this exercise was developed by Rebecca Layne and Ryan Chiu for Dr. Arthur Romano’s Conflict Resolution Pedagogy class at George Mason’s School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.

Another example of the privilege walk method can be found at:


Privilege Walk Statements:

  1. If you are right-handed, take one step forward.
  2. If one or both of your parents have a university degree, take one step forward.
  3. If you are Caucasian, take one step forward.
  4. If you or your family rely, or have relied, primarily on public support (unemployment support, social support), take one step back.
  5. If you constantly feel unsafe walking alone at night, take one step back.
  6. If your household employs help as servants, gardeners etc., take one step forward.
  7. If you are able to move through the world without fear of sexual assault, take one step forward.
  8. If you studied the culture of your ancestors in elementary school, take one step forward.
  9. If you often feel that your parents are too busy to spend time with you, take one step back.
  10. If you were ever made fun of or bullied for something you could not change or was beyond your control, take one step back.
  11. If you would never think twice about calling the police when trouble occurs, take one step forward.
  12. If your family does not own a computer, take one step backwards.
  13. If you have ever been able to play a significant role in a project or activity because of a talent you gained previously, take one step forward.
  14. If you feel respected for your academic performance, take one step forward.
  15. If you have a physically visible disability, take one step back.
  16. If you have an invisible illness or disability, take one step back.
  17. If you were ever accepted for something you applied to because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
  18. If you have ever been spoken over because you could not articulate your thoughts fast enough, take one step back.
  19. If someone has ever spoken for you when you did not want them to do so, take one step back.
  20. If you come from a single-parent household, take one step back.
  21. If you live in an area with crime and drug activity, take one step back.
  22. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, take one step back.
  23. If you are never asked to speak on behalf of a group of people who share an identity with you, take one step forward.
  24. If you have always assumed you’ll go to college, take one step forward. 
  25. If you or your family members were born in a country/community where they couldn't have access to basic services (education, health, security), take one step backwards.
  26. If your mother tongue is the same as the official language of your country of residence, take one step forward.
  27. If your family has ever left your homeland or entered another country not of its own free will, take one step back.
  28. If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behaviour to fit in more, take one step back.
  29. If you have attended previous schools with people you felt were like yourself, take one step forward
  30. If you can show affection for your romantic partner in public without fear of ridicule or violence, take one step forward.
  31. If you never had to skip a meal or were never hungry because there was not enough money to buy food, take one step forward.
  32. If you were ever discouraged from an activity because of race, class, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
  33. If you have ever been profiled by someone else using stereotypes, take one step back.
  34. If you feel good about how your identities are portrayed by the media, take one step forward.
  35. If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke related to your race, religion, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.
  36. If you can make mistakes and not have people attribute your behaviour to flaws in your racial or religious group, take one step forward.
  37. If your family has health insurance, take one step forward.
  38. If you have more than fifty books in your household, take one step forward.






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