This week’s reading by Peggy McIntosh’s, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack really resonated with me. It forced me to think about how being white grants a person a set of positive privileges that others don’t have. Because of this, I felt compelled to write a response. I will start with her argument, make a comparison to another reading, provide the context for her article, and lastly issue some of my own opinions on the topic. Argument.
McIntosh’s argument is based on the idea of how a white person is taught that racism is something that puts others at a disadvantage, but never seeing it in the perspective of how being white puts a person at an advantage. She discusses how it is like having “an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day “. She compares the situation to how males don’t recognize their male privileges. They are oppressing people in ways that are unconscious to them. To demonstrate her ideas, she creates a list with twenty six items, which showcase white privilege.
Comparison In McIntosh’s article, she talks about how white people unconsciously oppress others of different races. They have a set of privileges and conditions that set them apart from others in a beneficial way, which “confers dominance”. This is something that happens subconsciously once they are born, a result of society’s hidden bias towards the white race. This made me think about David Sadker and Karen Zittleman’s Gender Bias: From Colonial America to Today’s Classroom article.
In their article, they discuss how historically, boys and girls are taught to have certain characteristics that are typical of their sex. An example they used was how girls were taught certain things such as sewing back in the 1800s to prepare them for a life as a at home wife. This is interesting, because they are subconsciously perpetuating gender stereotypes based on what sex you are at birth, just like how society subconsciously grants whites with privileges based on their skin color at birth. Context The context in which this paper is written is to make people aware of the issue of white privilege.
She admits herself that she was taught that racism was putting others at a disadvantage, but was never taught about how being white places a person in a more advantageous position in life. She makes a call for a redesign to the social systems that allow and permit this type of issue to exist. She explains how the silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tool. They keep thoughts about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these taboo subjects. So in order to address this issue, society must be aware of it. Opinions.
This was a very powerful article to me. I have always looked at racism as something of the past, ending after the Civil Rights Movement. So this was definitely a wakeup call for me, I was able to see that racism doesn’t have to be blatant discrimination. It can be hidden, and in this case it was the hidden privileges granted to those of the fairer skin. It really goes to show how many of us are naive when it comes to the issue of racism, even in the twenty first century. It is an issue that we all must address if we ever really want to truly be a society that prides itself on equality.