Power and advantage derived from historical oppression and exploitation of other groups. An unearned right or immunity granted as a benefit, regardless of an individual’s personal effort and often invisible to those who have it because we are taught not to see it. The power structure of organizations and government through their infrastructure, policies, and practices reinforces the privileged group by advantaging them and disadvantaging others by creating barriers to attaining equal status. For example, White people in America are privileged in that their race will not limit their economic or educational prospects. Because we possess many layers to our identities (e.g., race, gender, class, sexuality, ability, etc.), we may hold privilege in one or some of our identities, and less privilege in others.


Adapted from Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center