There’s nothing like the holidays with some deep family conversations and/or arguments about inequality in Donald Trump’s gritty reboot of America. Given current political and cultural tensions, it’s almost inevitable that such discussions turn toward privilege — embraced or ignored. To help ease conversations about the innate advantages of specific types of people (read: white guys!), artist Fabiola Lara has created “Check Your Privilege” cards, designed to be handed out in social situations. If you’re going to have an uncomfortable conversation about systemic racism, it pays to bring some high-quality paper goods.
“These cards were born out of my own need to communicate with friends, family, and coworkers about privilege since the election. After election day, it became blatantly obvious how privilege influenced people’s post-election reactions and attitudes” Lara told Inverse. “I desperately felt I needed a way to communicate with people around me and facilitate self-awareness since everyone is targeted under a Trump administration in radically different ways.”
The cards are printed on standard-size white business cards and come in a pack of 10 for $5. Lara originally made only 45 packs, but sold out in less than 24 hours. So she’s restocked her online store so that people looking for a cheeky way to talk about privilege can have a stack for holiday parties. And 100 percent of the profits are going to Atlas: DIY, a Brooklyn-based center for undocumented and documented immigrant youth.
While there was clearly plenty of interest in the cards, not everyone has warmed to the idea. One Instagram commenter wrote, “If someone handed me one of these, my immediate reaction would be to punch them in the face.”
Meanwhile, Lara’s hoping that instead of starting fistfights, they spark conversation.
“The reaction in real life has been really positive, but online, the reactions have been mixed,” says Lara. “I think there are people who equate checking your own privilege to negating any hardships in your life, and that’s not what the intent of checking your privilege is. I don’t want people to use these cards to dismiss or silence others, but to serve as a tool to help others become self-aware in real life situations.”
There’s been a lot of conversation recently about privilege in society as inequality and discrimination gets called out over the internet and in real life — often to little avail. This has created opportunities for people to educate themselves about their privilege, something many people have done with admirable dedication and others have actively avoided. Either way, issues of privilege remain hard to broach in person and Lara’s work is intended to lower the barrier to entry to topics of conversation that have historically proven difficult to broach. In a sense, the cards stand in for that difficulty.
“I think there’s a lot of power in visualizing abstract ideas into concrete checkboxes on paper, and I made these cards hoping they would be a playful yet empowering tool for spreading awareness of the different kinds of privilege in the world,” Lara says. “I also hope that if these cards are used in real life with your family members, it can facilitate a conversation that would otherwise be avoided. That’s the benefit of leveraging a real life moment to educate.”
Lara dreams of a woke Christmas — just like the ones we’ve never known.