A System of Advantage

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Pre-Meeting Prep

Download the following handout and make one copy for each student.
System of Advantage Student Handout...

Also compile large pieces of paper for brainstorming and drawing pictures, and markers for two groups.

Instructions

Following the previous activity, have students once again line up by height. Divide the students into two groups: taller and shorter.

Brainstorming Advantages & Disadvantages

Once in their group, instruct students to brainstorm responses to the following question and write their answers on their large piece of paper.

  • Tall Group Question: What are advantages to being tall?
  • Short Group Question: What are advantages to being short?

After a few minutes, select one person from each group to read aloud all of the answers their group came up with.

Next, instruct the students to brainstorm the responses to the following question and write their answers on their large piece of paper.

  • Tall Group Question: What are the disadvantages of being tall?
  • Short Group Question: What are the disadvantages of being short?

After a few minutes, select one person from each group to read aloud all of the answers their group came up with.

A System of Advantage Based on Height

Remaining in their height groups, inform the students they at next to design a society that favors people of their height and places people of the other height at a disadvantage. Ask the students to consider:

  • What rules and laws would be in place to benefit the people of your height? And provide the following examples:

    1) The “tall” group might make a rule that says library books must be placed no lower than five feet for easy reach. The group could draw a picture of a short person trying really hard to reach a book, and a taller person grasping it with ease.

    2) The "short" group might make a rule that says pants must be sold no longer than three feet long. The group could draw a picture of tall person with pants far to short, and a shorter person who is comfortable in their new attire.

Groups should invent rules/laws and draw pictures to accompany what their society would look like. Once students have finished creating their rules and drawing the pictures, instruct each group to share aloud the rules they have created.

A System of Advantage Based on Race

After each group has shared their society, read the following information:
“You have all created a community with a system of advantages based on height. You have put in rules and structures that will benefit your height, your group, and will put people of a different height, a different group, at a disadvantage. This system of advantage based on height is called “heightism.

Racism works in a similar way. Racism is a system of advantage based on race. Similar to the societies you have created, a society with a system of advantage based on race allows some people benefits and does not offer those benefits to others.

Do we have a system of advantage based on race at work in our school and community? If so, what might be proof or signs of this system? What might be some of the unspoken rules that exist in a system of advantage based on race in our school?"


Provide the students five minutes to reflect and discuss this question. Next, distribute the “System of Advantage Student Handout”. Instruct students to read each statement and place a checkmark by each statement if it is true for them in their experience. Then pose the following questions to the group:

  • Which of these statements were true for you? If these statements are true to you, how might they give you advantages in your school experience?
  • Which of these statements were not true for you? If these statements were not true for you, how might this affect your experience at school?
  • How might these experiences be a part of a system of advantage based on race in our school?
  • What might we do as a Calling All Colors group to create change in this system of advantage at work in our school?
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