The Power Flower illustrates our social identities and the ways in which we experience power, privilege, and oppression in society in intersecting ways. Each petal of the flower represents a category of our social identity (for example, gender, race, and class).
Each petal contains an inner section and an outer section. The outer section represents the dominant (privileged) identity. The inner petal represents the non-dominant (marginalized) identity within the category.
Step One: To begin the exercise, consider each and every petal and decide what you believe the dominant/non-dominant identities are in contemporary society.
For example, on the petal labelled ‘disability’ you may decide that the outer section (privileged) of the petal represents non-disabled identity. Correspondingly, you may decide that the inner section (marginalized) of the petal represents disabled identity.
Step Two: Next, consider how you personally identify. In the example given above, if you identify as non-disabled (sometimes referred to as ‘able-bodied’), place your sticker on the outer section of the petal by clicking on it. If you identify as disabled, click the inner section of the petal.
Social identities are often conceptualized as binary, however, they are not.
There exists an in-between, and this is represented by the line between the two inner and outer petals. You may wish to place your sticker on this line by clicking on it. For example, perhaps you have an episodic disability or an ‘invisible’ disability, and you believe this is better represented by clicking on the line in between ‘disabled’ and ‘non-disabled.’
In sum: To fill in the flower according to your own social identities, click either (1) the inner petal, (2) outer petal, or (3) in between the two petals. There is also an empty text box for you to add a social identity that is missing and applies to you. The objective of this activity is to illuminate how we experience power, privilege, and oppression in multiple and intersecting ways. One person may experience marginalization in some respects, while experiencing power and privilege in others. Importantly, none of these identities can be separated out from one another, or layered on top of one another – they are experienced as mutually constitutive (many different parts create one whole). Please note the flower is for your use only and will not be recorded.
Adapted with permission from Educating for a Change by Rick Arnold, Bev Burke, Carl James, D’Arcy Martin, and Barb Thomas (Toronto: Doris Marshall Institute for Education and Action and Between the Lines Press, 1991).