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Unravelling Power and Privilege: A Pathway to Equitable Communities

04 Sep 2023 5:02 PM | Stephanie Crilly (Administrator)

In our journey towards equitable communities and economies, there's something crucial we need to talk about: power and privilege. Power and privilege can be likened to invisible threads that weave through the fabric of our society, shaping our paths and determining who gets what opportunities. Power can be defined as access to resources, position, status, wealth or personal strength of character that gives a person, group or system the ability to influence others positively or negatively. While privilege is unearned power, benefits, advantages, access or opportunities that exist for members of a dominant group or groups in society. Privilege can also refer to the relative privilege of one group compared to another.

An important note to highlight regarding privilege is that it does not mean you’re a bad person or that you haven't worked hard. It simply means that whatever identity you were born with requires you to consider how you navigate the world and certain spaces where navigation is more difficult or easier, depending on who you are.

Now, why is this dialogue necessary? These dynamics exert significant impact on our economic landscape. Individuals wielding power often make decisions that ripple across society, occasionally leaving specific groups at a disadvantage. Moreover, privilege can exacerbate this situation, tilting the balance further. Historical injustices like colonization and discrimination have left profound scars that persist within communities today. Some of us may enjoy more opportunities bestowed upon us due to these injustices, while others face obstacles that seem inherently unjust.

But here's the crux, we possess the power to effect change. We can take strides to challenge these imbalances and shape an economy that benefits everyone. Here's how:

Learning and understanding: If you have been reading these blogs for the past few months, you will notice something that I have highlighted in every article, and will continue to highlight, educate yourself. Initiating authentic conversations about power and privilege serves as a foundational step. Greater knowledge equips us to steer change, illuminating a room that has remained dim for far too long.

Equitable policies: Those in positions of authority—governments, institutions—wield considerable influence. By ensuring policies are inclusive, we ensure marginalized communities are having their voices heard, get a seat at the table and we begin working towards levelling that systemic imbalance that is currently in place.

Empowering entrepreneurs: Starting a business is hard work. For those grappling with additional challenges due to their background, it can feel akin to scaling a mountain. Extending a hand in mentorship and support can make a world of difference.

Amplifying voices: When those in power only mirror a single perspective, decisions are often skewed. It's time to provide everyone with a seat at the table. Diverse viewpoints lead to more impartial decisions, allows us to authentically communicate with new audiences, uncovers new perspectives and ideas and opens new avenues to business growth.

Collective influence: Tremendous potential surfaces when we unite. Businesses, organizations, communities—let's collaborate to shape an environment that genuinely makes everyone feel a sense of belong.

Unveiling implicit bias: Biases are intrinsic to human nature, yet recognizing and addressing them signifies a significant stride towards transformation. Embracing diversity in all aspects of life creates more equitable outcomes.

Don’t forget about intersectionality: Intersectionality acknowledges that every individual has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression and we must consider everything that can marginalize people – race, class, citizenship, language, body size, mental health, formal education, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, etc. These overlaps and independent systems intersect, causing additional hurdles for individuals who experience more than one form of marginalization. This is a much more complex topic, but to begin understanding,

In conclusion, power and privilege are integral aspects that intersect with our pursuit of economic development. Effecting change mandates confronting these challenges head-on and collaborating towards an economy that is inclusive and just. Through awareness, listening and active participation, we can pave the way for an economy where every individual has a chance at success. Though the journey might be demanding, it also offers an opportunity to instigate meaningful progress. Together, we can make it happen, one step at a time.

Sometimes you're a caterpillar  - this video holds a special place for me. It can even be watched with kids. I encourage you to watch this video. When was the last time you empathized with a snail? You might after watching this video.

Written By:

Lindsey Glazier 

Business Development Coordinator

Planning and Development

Corporation of the County of Bruce

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