Title: The “Coin Model of Privilege and Critical Allyship”: Orienting Ourselves for Accountable Action on Equity
Speaker: Dr. Stephanie Nixon, University of Toronto
Hosted by: Simon Fraser University, Faculty of Health Sciences
- Dr. Nixon asked us to jot down our thoughts on the following three questions:
What are new insights?
- the coin model = privilege (unearned advantages) and oppression (unearned disadvantages)
- we have words for those people whose health is affected by oppressions: “marginalized”, “vulnerable”, “at risk”, “target population” – but we don’t have any words for those people who are on the other side of the coin. We frame equity as solely around those on the bottom of the coin – and we thus limit our thinking of possible solutions to these “problem” of the bottom of the coin – we disappear those on the “top of the coin” – we disappear the coin altogether
- we frame the privileged as neutral instead of as complicit in the oppression
- when is EDI used to avoid actually dealing with oppression?
What feels important but is still muddy?
What do I feel as I lean into reflecting on privilege? body, emotions. (“We cannot think our way out of oppression.”)
- I’ve seen the original version of this experiment, and appreciated this updated version. When they did the reveal, I felt my stomach fall – I missed something that should be so obvious again! I also appreciated Dr. Nixon’s use of this as a metaphor for privilege: e.g., those who don’t experience oppression not only don’t see it, they don’t believe it when others tell them that they experience it and gaslight them by saying that what they have experienced did not happen.
- strengths that helped me get to my level of education: parents who supported me to pursue higher education, availability of student loans; barriers: cost of tuition and living as a student without an income, not having role models in my family who had done higher education before
- the people on the “bottom” of the coin are the experts on how oppression affects them – those on the privileged side of the coin can’t see the ways in which they are privileged (it’s like the gorilla!)
- white supremacy – the view that white is “normal”, the “default”
- people on one side of the coin are not homogeneous – e.g., if we think about colonialism, the people on the oppressed side are indigenous, and there are many different indigenous groups; similarly, the group on the privileged side of the coin of colonialism are settlers and they are also not homogenous
- education on antiracism, anti-oppression is not enough – it doesn’t change the material conditions that people experience, it doesn’t dismantle the systems of oppression
- what is my work to do on “EDI”?
- when you are on the top of a coin, you need to work in solidary with the people who are experiencing the oppression
- it is not about the person with privilege “saving” or “fixing” the populations experiencing the oppression
- when privilege is unchecked it leads to an irrational sense of neutrality
- when you are on “top” of the coin, you need to understand your position as having unearned privilege (and even recognizing there is a coin) and that you are not the expert
Dr. Nixon’s article on this model: https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-019-7884-9