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Perils and Perks of Privilege

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Article submitted by event sponsors Yavapai College Osher Lifelong Learners Institute and Integral Life Sedona

Sedona AZ (October 5, 2014) – Got opinions about what’s going on in today’s local and national news? Think your views are based on common sense? Have trouble understanding those who disagree? Wonder why people act and react so differently?

You will get eye-opening insights on how our life circumstances affect our perceptions and thinking at The Perils And Perks Of Privilege, a workshop, led by Neal A. Lester, Ph.D., Director of Project Humanities, Arizona State University and Yvette Johnson, filmmaker and author, which will be offered on Saturday, October 11, 2014, from 10:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the Sedona Public Library, 3260 White Bear Road, Sedona. The program is co-sponsored by Integral Sedona and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. All are invited.

Our views on issues such as immigration, healthcare, education, entitlements, marriage rights, or just about anything else, are colored by what we have been exposed to and how we have been treated.

Conversations among individuals who experience race, gender, sexuality, class, age, or ability differences, for instance, often turn into debates because the participants see privilege through different lenses.

This workshop will engage literature, history, language, performance, art, film, and popular culture to demonstrate the everyday complexities of privilege. The facilitators will establish respectful guidelines and offer thought-provoking prompts. Participants will learn more about privilege, engage in self-reflection and discussion and gain valuable skills for living in an increasingly diverse world.

Dr. Neal Lester, Ph.D.

Dr. Neal Lester, Ph.D.

Dr. Lester earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in English at Vanderbilt University and has been a professor of English at Arizona State University since 1997. His area of specialization is African American literary and cultural studies. He has won several teaching awards, is a popular public speaker and discussion facilitator, and has an extensive record of publications.

Yvette Johnson is well known for her work on race relations, which includes co-producing and appearing in a full-length documentary about her grandfather, Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, one of the most talked about films at a recent Tribeca Film Festival and the focus of an hour-long Dateline NBC broadcast.

Integral Sedona
hosts informative programs and stimulating discussions on Saturdays at the Sedona Public Library from 10:00 a.m. to noon, grounded in the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber. Meetings are open to all and are free. Visit www.integrallife.com for information.

OLLI is a local, volunteer, peer-to-peer, adult education program which offers many learning groups and workshops each term for a nominal fee. Its Fall term has begun, however, many learning groups and workshops are still available. For more information, call 928-649-4275.

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!

For the best Arizona news and views, read www.SedonaEye.com daily!


  1. N. U. says:

    Professor, where would we be without white guilt? Nobody I know even had relatives who lived in America then. Doubt many in Arizona do. Take it from this black-ish post grad, make something of yourself folks and stop looking for excuses. You’re not disadvantaged by those with privilege and there’s no peril to making money. Try it and see.

  2. Glenn says:

    N U it will never happen as with 73% black single family households the family is already destroyed. Johnson’s great society made the black man unnecessary to support a family and so he was dumped as to be of no value. So you see it really is too late with this high of a percentage to really turn around. There is no race in the history of the U.S. that was singled out to get so much free including education and as you can see for the most part did nothing with it.

  3. We were expected to act and do right and if we didn’t we paid consequences. We were expected to go to school and learn and if we ever thought about not doing it, our mother would’ve packed our bags and tossed them on the front step saying if you’re so smart, now go support yourself. If we did anything wrong, we had to own it and fix it. If we did something right, it was expected but our self esteem wasn’t anything my parents thought about, they had it, we should develop our own. Best parents in the world.

  4. Glenn says:

    Gayle no the figures are correct for 2013, you are looking at 2011 figures. The 73% is from 2013 government figures.

  5. Neal Lester says:

    As a co-facilitator of this 5th of 6 highly successful and diverse-audienced workshops across AZ, I so wish that those who commented above had actually attended the workshop to witness that this was not about “white guilt” –or any guilt for that matter– or even about race and economics narrowly. Your comments reveal precisely WHY this conversation is needed to assume personal responsibility without pointing fingers at others. Easy to make assumptions and jump to conclusions before actually investigating the topic, it seems, or “talking, listening, and potentially connecting.”

  6. Glenn says:

    Neal it is about race relations as the whites are always being blamed as the privileged race and being looked at like they are the cause of this problem. It overlooks the point that there are a lot of whites that face the same day to day problems others do day to day. In fact whites face bigger problems because there isn’t the help that is given to minorities that whites are able to use equality. Race is a problem because there are a few that continually want to stir the race relations topic.

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