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racial discrimination, white privilege, and standing up to systemic inequality: joy degruy, “a trip to the grocery store”

In this video clip from World Trust’s film, Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity, educator, author, and researcher Joy Angela DeGruy tells the story of how she and her daughter were discriminated against at a grocery store and how her sister-in-law used her White privilege to intervene, take a stand against the discriminatory and unjust interaction, and point out that moment as an example of unexamined privileges and internal biases manifesting in an institutionalized, systemic inequity. She also describes how this interaction affected not just the people directly involved, but also the people who witnessed the event.


What is White privilege? Who has it? Can non-White people have White privilege? How?

How did Kathleen, Joy’s sister-in-law, use her White privilege in this situation? What kind of impact did it have? How would it have been different if Joy had said the same things?

Do you think the cashier meant to be discriminatory? Does intentionality matter? How?

How did Joy react when she recognized that this discriminatory act was happening? How did her 10-year old daughter react? What is the cumulative impact of these kinds of everyday experiences on people of color in the U.S.?

What is the “angry black woman” stereotype, and how did it affect Joy’s thinking and behavior in this situation? How did fear of reinforcing the stereotype affect her behavior? How might this threat of confirming a stereotype play out with other identities, and in other spaces?

Where do acts of racial discrimination take place? Where does racism manifest? How does this example show how racism is not just about individuals and one-time instances, but also about everyday patterns of behavior and larger societal structures and systems?

What does it mean to be an ally? Whose responsibility is it to stand up to and try to change social injustices?

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