Are People Too Quick To Dismiss Privilege?
Updated: Jan 26, 2022
A recent presentation at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has created quite the stir on social media. The reaction also shows how some people politicize just about everything they can without taking a moment to consider the facts and exercise some empathy.
Christina Parle of Social Responsibility Speaks presented on the topic of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at an educational series hosted by the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Fraternity and Sorority Life. A photo believed to be from the event appeared on social media, including in this post on Twitter.
The photo shows a large screen with a slide titled, Right-Handed Privilege with the following 6 points:
It's easier; makes life easier
Sense of belonging; to fit in
The world is organized for Right-handers
The Right Hand of Privilege is a thought paper written several years ago by Dr. Steven Jones. His bio on his company’s website says, “Dr. Jones founded Jones & Associates in 1993 in order to build a firm committed to making a widespread positive impact in the world in the area of diversity, inclusion, and organizational excellence.”
In his paper, Dr. Jones appears to write about the “struggle to understand the concept of privilege.” He attempts to make his point by using the fact left handers are often forced to adapt to a right-handed world. “Look at the systems which have been created to support the successful functioning of the group called the right-handed people,” says Dr. Jones in his paper. He goes on to suggest right handers live their lives with a “Privilege you may not think about, you didn’t work or ask for, and you did not earn.” He also correctly predicted some right handers would be upset at hearing left handers complain "about being discriminated against."
Most of the criticism of Christina Parle’s presentation appears to come from conservative media and social media accounts. The Libs of Tik Tok’s Twitter bio describes their account as, “Showing how society is deteriorating through videos.” They also have a link in their Twitter bio to what appears to be an online Shopify store selling their branded merchandise, including the items below:
Conservative Media Weighs In
The Carolina Review then released its summary of Christina Parle’s lecture and what is claimed to be “leaked audio” from a short portion of the presentation.
The College Fix, which describes itself as “Right-minded campus news,” included the story in its publication.
An opinion columnist in the Toronto Star, who says he is left-handed himself, says, “What’s next? Elevator Button Privilege? Pizza Pops Privilege? Close Your Eyes When You Sleep Privilege? Put On Your Pants One Leg at a Time Privilege?” He goes on to say that while he faced some challenges as a left-handed child, “this hand oppression has made us stronger.” (link to this article)
And of course, Fox News had their opinion as well.
Social Media Reaction
Thousands of people on Twitter and Instagram who appear to have conservative views have been critical of this presentation. Christopher F. Rufo, a writer who describes his work as, “I’m leading the fight against critical race theory through investigative reporting, content creation, and public policy” posted this tweet.
Here’s a small sample of other posts adding their disapproval of the presentation.
Dismissing Conservative Media
There are also many on social media defending the presentation and left handedness, while others are also critical of conservative media.
Southpaw Essentials' Opinion
Left handers are not an oppressed group and we are proud and celebrate our uniqueness. However, the challenges are real and can be a serious safety issue. While people may have their political differences, history has documented the abuse some left-handed children went through many years ago as people tried to convert them to become right handed. Progress has clearly been made for southpaws over the last 50 years but being critical of left handers will not help overcome the challenges many still face with certain tasks.
In the coming weeks and months we will report on how left-handed workers are more vulnerable to accidents in the workplace, not because of being left handed, but as a result of not having the proper equipment to accommodate their dominant hand. For all the right-handed doubters out there, imagine doing home renovations with left-handed tools.
Furthermore, Dr. Jones' paper The Right Hand of Privilege is simply an example to try and help people understand what it means to have privilege. We all have some form of privilege and acknowledging this fact is the start of understanding the struggles others go through.