# A Potential Model of Intersectional Privilege

## I’ve been thinking of a not-wordy (or less wordy) way to describe privilege for a while. This is my first draft as an equation that defines the assumptions I have and the relationships that exist between individual identity characteristics and the opportunities (or lack of opportunities that are available to you.

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First, bear with me that Medium doesn’t do the best with mathematical notation. I believe that the concept of privilege can be described by the model:

*y = *β*x* + ε

I’m calling that Equation 1 (E1), Where:

*y*is a set of personal and professional opportunities available to you- x is the amount of “hard work” you put in
- β is the coefficient that describes the multiplier you have on your hard work (privilege)
- ε is the random variation (chance/luck) you experience that leads to your opportunity set

# Defining β

But how do we define β?

β can be described by a regression model with a theoretically infinite number of terms:

β = (Σαz*) + *ε

I’m calling that Equation 2 (E2). The variables are as follows:

- α is the weight of the impact of a particular identity characteristic on your outcomes (e.g., the weighted effect of your racial identity on your opportunity set)
- z is the impact of your identity on your opportunity set, represented as a relative value to the “highest” or “most” valuable identity in a given category (e.g., White = 1, Black = <1)

In this case, I think it can be simplified, because it’s a reasonable assumption that the ε in this equation can be subsumed into the ε in E1. That means we’re working with:

β = (Σαz*)*

That makes our total equation (E3):

*y = (*Σαz*)x* + ε

# One hypothesis

It’s possible that the combination of your gender, race, and socioeconomic status can explain the *majority* of your opportunity set in life.

In math-y terms, I think that you can get a pretty high value of R² for E3 using just gender, race, and SES. Thus, the equation that I propose looks like this:

*y = *βg + βr + βses +ε

From my preliminary thought experiments, I think that this equation can actually help ground discussions of privilege in formal logic, which can help avoid derailments, and ensure that discussion follows a purely logical path.

In the future, I’m thinking of using this to explain the most common questions I get for a more math- or engineering-focused audience.

*Remember, this is still an intellectual exercise. Please do offer refinement or refutation, but be kind!*