Difference, Power, and Privilege Critique

Allan Johnson’s Privilege, Strength, and Difference is an innovative book used by both students and non-students who are interested in exploring rights, forces, and differences in different structures. With its conversational philosophy, the book is a connection to today’s truth. It also offers examples that engage readers to consider the underlying types of impacts and to relate them to them. The use of this book is to reveal the essence of power and privilege, both in and outside the classroom. A distinction occurs where there is authority and privilege. This book thesis argues that the daily inequalities that we experience are not as a result of the differences within ourselves but rather of our dread to identify and confront the privileges within. If one group is privileged than the other, then what we expect is the maintenance of a classified structure within society. When the institutions that promote and maintain these hierarchical structures are challenged, then we will expect change through discouraging privileges.

Supporting Points

The reader is being guided by Johnson through a practice that creates a “diversity wheel”. The diversity wheel is a revelation of each person social life and how power influences in shaping their reality. A change in our lives will be dramatic if a few sections of the diversity wheel is shifted. There will be a change in our social systems if people become responsible and perpetuate privilege in order to bring positive interactions.

In this world, we find that it is structured “in ways to use the difference to include or exclude, reward or punish, credit or discredit, elevate or oppress, value or devalue, leave alone or harass” (pg. 19). The social construction of difference still exists, and it is in these systems that we see these groups dominate. These social groups want to maintain their status quo using privilege as the advantage.

Quoting Peggy’s Mclntosh, she describes privilege as “when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do.” (pg. 23).

Allan Johnson suggestion about privilege is that we should consider ourselves privileged even if we are not part of it. To break the cycle of privilege, there is need for individuals to be able to recognize themselves in the social community and their abilities within them to enable them to understand and try make changes. There are demonstrations in our daily lives whereby when individuals are more privileged than the others, it creates differences and those at the higher hierarchy attains power faster.

As earlier explained, a difference is brought about by a combination of power and privilege. There are conflicts in sexism, racism, heterosexism, oppression, dominance and subordination, and they interfere with the economical origin. Differences in individuals due to unequal measure results due to dread and hatred.


This book is very insightful as it takes a reader to a path of examining themselves and the realization of their true worth. Privilege is thoroughly discussed and it is through it that we find ourselves in a paradox. The acquisition of privilege does not necessarily make individuals happy. When an individual delves into his or her diversity wheel, it can be a shock to many to find if they are either privileged or not. If you are a member of a club or an organization, you may have been granted special attention than what you expect. The only problem is that people do not always realize these opportunities and they may want more of what they have. In most cases, I see the people who lack power especially the lower class community, are disadvantaged. The rich will continue to sustain their riches while the poor remain stagnated in everything. You see, this is a paradox. The hierarchy of the upper class, middle, and lower class are maintained. If the people in one-class walks in the shoes of the other is when they will realize the horror of differences.

The problem with people in the society is that they have fear opposing criticism. Because of this, they encourage the magnification of privilege and power which in turn brings a difference. Privilege should be extended beyond the “ism” racism, heterosexism and oppression. People in the society have fear in some of the groups that are powerful; this leads to divides in wealth distribution, quality of life, dignity, and safety. Taking an example of an educator, he or she should not create indifferences with the students, this is because their voice may hold more valuable and different experience than them.

Need help with your homework? Let our experts handle it.
Order form