Those of us who teach about inequality emphasize how important it is to teach not only about oppression, but also about its counterpart, privilege. In sociology, when we discuss privilege we focus on how rights, benefits, advantages, and favors are unearned. It can be a difficult concept, though, to teach. Some students are resistant to the notion that they are privileged, and it is easy for them to deny it because of how invisible and taken-for-granted privilege is. Instructors looking to teach about privilege have long turned to Peggy McIntosh’s “invisible knapsack” metaphor. While I embrace the method of using a metaphor to illustrate a complicated concept, particularly for undergraduates, I struggled to think of what could replace the knapsack for our current students. Here, I present an updated metaphor to help students better understand privilege, based on a run I went on one day. In this scenario, I describe privilege as literally part of the air we breathe—just as invisible, and just as impossible to avoid the effects of. I have since used this to try to help students better understand how privilege operates, and why that privilege is often invisible to those experiencing it, and all too obvious to those oppressed by it.

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