As part of her role as an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) ambassador, Saturday Night Live (SNL) cast member Sasheer Zamata stars in this satirical video that features her and a White male friend walking around a city, talking about gender, racial, and class privilege. The White male friend talks about how far the country has come in terms of prejudice and discrimination and fails to notice as they pass examples of everyday structural and systemic White privilege, such as a billboard featuring another television show about a group of four White men. In their conversation, he continues to make arguments about progress, equality, individualism, and the merits of simply working hard, as Sasheer offers counterpoints to his arguments, pointing out structural and systemic privileges that mask institutionalized discrimination. She is also stopped and frisked by a police officer, racially profiled, and repeatedly cat-called, told to smile, and called a prude for covering up. In the end, he is congratulated for stating that he considers himself a feminist, whereas she is ignored and dismissed when she also says she is a feminist. He suddenly realizes the privileges that Sasheer has been talking about throughout their walk, and states that he gets it and that things are unfair and will not get better if they go ignored and unacknowledged. The video ends with the text, “Women’s equality starts with the person next to you. Be a friend,” and then the ACLU encourages sharing of the video.
What examples of White and male privilege do you see in this satirical video? How do other aspects of identity (such as class or ability) factor into these interactions?
What kinds of privilege are addressed in this video? What kinds of privileges do you have? In what ways are you disadvantaged? How does history and context play into what kinds of privileges and disadvantages you have? How can we navigate relationships and interactions with others when we have different levels and kinds of privilege?
Why is it difficult to admit to having privilege? Is it possible to admit to being privileged and not recognize that this relates to other people being disadvantaged?
What arguments is the White male character in the video making about progress, equality, individualism, and the merits of simply working hard? What is being left out of his thinking? How does Sasheer Zamata’s character point this out?
What point are they making when the male character is recognized and awarded for stating that he considers himself a feminist, whereas the female character is dismissed and ignored for stating the same thing? Can you think of other roles or labels that men are congratulated for, whereas women are just expected to be or do?
What point does the video try to make about privilege and what can be done when you have it?
The video ends with the statement, “Women’s equality starts with the person next to you. Be a friend.” What do they mean by this? Is this video advocating for friends to talk with each other about these kinds of privileges and discrimination? Have you ever tried having these kinds of conversations with people who have different experiences or opinions than you do? How can these kinds of conversations help? How can they be difficult? Whose responsibility is it to talk about privilege and discrimination?