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Saturday, February 6, 2016

White Privilege

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
Peggy McIntosh


"As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage"

I believe this line is very important because it is true that, not only are people taught about people of color being at a disadvantage and being know as the "minorities" but people aren't taught about "white people" moving up in the world easier and faster than people of color. Of course everyone knows it, observes it and goes through it or experiences it everyday but it isn't taught. White children are not taught that they are going to have life a little easier and that they have an advantage due to their skin color. The only thing children and even adults are taught is that people of color are "lesser" than white people and do not get as many opportunities as they should. I think as I continued to read this article that it really hit me how much advantage white people do get over colored people and it isn't right, yet it is sad I'm only starting to see the bigger picture now.

"Whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow 'them' to be more like 'us' "

Everyone now a days has set ideas of what an average family is like, the "American Dream" a dad who works 5 days a week in an office somewhere, a mother who stays home to take care of the children, cook, do laundry and other household chores and two to three children who attend a public school and most likely participate in activities with other children in their hometown. Especially a little bit far back in time that was very highly looked upon, as the "American Dream" of a white family, which is still highly acknowledged (like in Scwaamp). People expect colored people to look up to white Americans completing the American dream and being successful without even realizing that everyone is successful in their way, no matter what job they have. But somehow, like symbolized in this quote, it is "hoped" that by white Americans working hard everyday that one day "they" will be more like "us" in a sense where they achieve the American dream as well, but most already have (unnoticeable) or chose not to.

"4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
5. I can shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will now work against me.
46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.
50. I will feel welcomes and 'normal' in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social."

These numbered bullets are just a few of the important points shown about "white privilege" and the advantage of it. These also go along with the game we played Scwaamp, about whiteness and property, mostly about respect out in the real world towards white people. The fact that some people of race may not get the correct legal or medical attention because of their race is horrible, or even going out shopping or anywhere in public with the fear of being harassed or talked down to and just disrespected is something that no one should have to go through. White privilege is a largely talked about topic in the present day but should not even exist, everyone should have equal privilege but sadly thats not the case.


Questions/Points to share:
Due to the fact that I grew up in an almost all white town, and all white public schools I have never really come to the idea that I was "privileged". Obviously I know that I am white therefore I am not a minority and will not be treated with disrespect but I never looked into it this much and understood how bad it can be in society for people of color. I am a firm believer in equal rights for people of any color but sadly my opinion and views won't change the worlds or countries. Reading all 50 of the points Peggy made about what its like to be privileged opened up my eyes to be thankful I don't have to live with fear of any of those things but also makes me feel not so good about it. Its terrible how almost every line I read some people face everyday. It would be amazing if people understood skin color means nothing but its not the case in the present day, hopefully it will happen but until then all we can do is try and promote the idea of all people, of different color, race, ethnicity and religion to be equal and treated equal.


  1. It would be nice if people knew that skin color means nothing. Reading the 50 points on McIntosh's list really does open a person's eyes to seeing how easy we are able to live just because of our skin color. Everyone should be able to live by those points and not have to live in fear everyday just because their skin is a different color. Like what you say, all we can do is try and promote the idea that everyone is equal and should be treated equal no matter what.

  2. McIntosh clearly pointed our the privileges that white people, and that I feel like her point of the article was to open the eyes of white people to make them notice that colored people have less opportunities then white people. I feel like after reading the 50, repeated, points, it clearly shows that white people have always had power and will always have power over the colored people. I wish people didn't define others has a black person or a white person, it is very depressing that people still define black people as the bad people and white people has the good and pure people.

  3. Hi Nicole, I enjoyed reading your post. Thank you so much for your honest reaction to reading this. I read this a few years ago and as Dr. Bogad said, this is one of those pieces that really cracks the glass, at least it did for myself. many of these things on the list I never thought of either, and it makes me sad as well to think that one day my daughters may be treated different based on the expression of melanin in their skin.

  4. I had the same reaction after reading this piece. Privileges are not recognized until they are pointed out to you. It's weird to think about how this affects children differently growing up. Everyone grows up thinking their life and their experiences are the "normal". It isn't until you're older that you realize everyone lives a different life, some more fair than others. This shouldn't be the case. It's important that people are taught from a young age to appreciate and respect all of the differences around them.

  5. I think your second quote really hits the point of the article. White people often times don't think they're in power; but they are willing to admit that otter races are in the minority. Whiteness is an unwritten factor of success in America. I also really liked your pictures you included, they related nicely to your post.