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S/O 50 Examples of White Privilege in Daily Life

Posted by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:59 PM
  • 286 Replies
4 moms liked this

50 Examples of White Privilege in Daily Life

Those who believe the U.S. has achieved a color-blind society, or that racism is no longer an issue in American society ought to read some of Peggy McIntosh's reflections on race.  "White privilege" is often invisible, and often denied, but there is little doubt that it exists, she observed. Reflecting on it explodes the myth of meritocracy, and "the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all."

"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group," she wrote. As a white person, she "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 have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was 'meant' to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.  Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable."

She goes on to describe the "daily effects of white privilege" that "as far as I can tell, my African American co-workers, friends and acquaintances...cannot count on most of these conditions."

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person's voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

16. I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their race.

17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

22. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race.

25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.

26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race.

27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.

29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.

30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn't a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.

32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.

33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.

37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.

38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.

39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

40. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.

43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.

44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.

45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.

46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.

47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.

48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.

49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.

50. I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life

Thoughts

by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 9:59 PM
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Replies (1-10):
becka728
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:01 PM

bump

LuvmyAiden
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:30 PM
13 moms liked this

Some of those don't apply to white people but straight people. And most of it is bs to be honest. In some areas of the country this might be true but many areas it just isn't. It points out to me that there is discrimination everywhere against all kinds of people and some of those people are white.

Veni.Vidi.Vici.
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:32 PM
2 moms liked this

I think that's a mighty long list!

Great post! :rubs hands together:

becka728
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Unearned White Privileges

A lot of the talk by those who espouse accountability and self reliance (which are important values) seems to ignore the un-level playing field that logically has to exist for there to be "equal opportunity" (also important). Why is that? How come they do not see that the power structure is not fair, prejudices and disadvantages minorities and others who are not in the mainstream?

Peggy McIntosh, (Associate Director of Women's Studies at Wellesley College) suggested in her classic 1988 paper, "White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack" that privilege is kept strongly inculcated in the U.S. in order to maintain the myth of meritocracy which serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already. That many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own (making those very same people's claims to having earned their position particularly venomous).

If that strikes you as wrong or overstated McIntosh suggests we think about the conditions of daily experience that you probably take for granted (of course there are exceptions to each of these but as a general proposition this list developed in 1988 seems still quite relevant): (The actual list in the McIntosh article is much more extensive - this is just a sampling and while this list focused on race it is worth thinking about how they apply to any member of a group that is outside the mainstream)...

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can arrange to protected my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

3. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.

4. I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my race.

5. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

6. I can pretty sure that if I ask to talk to "the person in charge" I will be facing a person of my race.

7. I can go home from meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out of place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

8. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.

9. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my race will not work against me.

10. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area where I would want to live.

11. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

12. I can be pretty sure that my children will be given educational materials that testify to the existence of their race.

13. I can speak in public to a powerful group without putting my race on trial.

14. If my day or week or year is going badly, I need not ask myself if any of those negative situations has racial overtones.
 

Peggy McIntosh is an American feminist and anti-racist activist, the associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, and a speaker and the founder and co-director of the National S.E.E.D. Project on Inclusive Curriculum (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity).

McIntosh is most famous for authoring the 1988 essay "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies." This analysis and its shorter form, "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, "have been instrumental in putting the dimension of privilege into discussions of gender, race and sexuality

becka728
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:42 PM

bump

PortiaRose
by on Jan. 24, 2013 at 10:43 PM
1 mom liked this
*eyeroll* we are talking about race.

Quoting LuvmyAiden:

Some of those don't apply to white people but straight people. And most of it is bs to be honest. In some areas of the country this might be true but many areas it just isn't. It points out to me that there is discrimination everywhere against all kinds of people and some of those people are white.

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mommajen32
by Platinum Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:01 PM
6 moms liked this
Most people in the majority may not realize how important those things are...things they take for granted. Now surely folks will come in and tesrify to having a boss that is a minority, or being followed in a store or not having their opinion heard. It's missing the forest. Life is different if you are a religious or ethnic minority.



I ask that folks pause for a moment and imagine America as 80 plus percent black or Hispanic. If everywhere in your life (grocery store, work, television, newspaper, movies, etc...) where you see white people and imagine they are black. How would your life be different, what products would be on the shelves, what about beauty products,
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mommajen32
by Platinum Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:03 PM
3 moms liked this
How would you feel? What if you also lived in the legacy only a few decades removed from segregation? How would life be different?
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Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:04 PM

Good read.


Momniscient
by Ruby Member on Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:04 PM
3 moms liked this

Which are BS and why?

Quoting LuvmyAiden:

Some of those don't apply to white people but straight people. And most of it is bs to be honest. In some areas of the country this might be true but many areas it just isn't. It points out to me that there is discrimination everywhere against all kinds of people and some of those people are white.



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