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S/O 50 Examples of White Privilege in Daily Life

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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
Replies (41-50):
stringtheory
by Gold Member on Jan. 25, 2013 at 6:43 PM
You're white, aren't you?

Quoting ArianEponae:

Wondering if she picked a number and then made stuff up to fill in the number...most of these were nonsense...
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
ArianEponae
by on Jan. 25, 2013 at 6:50 PM
If you're asking if I have a light complexion, yes I do. If you're wondering about cultural heritage, far from it.

Quoting stringtheory:

You're white, aren't you?



Quoting ArianEponae:

Wondering if she picked a number and then made stuff up to fill in the number...most of these were nonsense...
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
stringtheory
by Gold Member on Jan. 25, 2013 at 6:55 PM
1 mom liked this
1) It leads to an acknowledgement that the issue of racial privilege exists. I think of the female role models my daughter has. She wants to be a singer. She's very good at science. But what she sees is women pigeon-holed into beauty-reliant vocations and even discouraged from STEM ("girls aren't good at math"). It is subtle, but, as a woman I see it. As a man, DH doesn't. He has never experienced that pigeon hole. That is the privilege; being stereotyped into a pigeon hole vs. seeing "your people" in everything.
2) acknowledge it. Saying "pishaw, my anecdotal experience doesn't show this!" Makes you an antipathetic observer that scoffs at what is a real-life problem for minorities in many cases. Stop dismissing the situation as petty.


Quoting Radarma:

 Having read this list of Peggy's many many times now...I ask the following:

1.) Why is it so important for the average white american to acknowledge and see this privilege?

2.) What CAN the average white american DO to change ANY of these privileges?

Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
dustinsmom1
by JENN on Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:02 PM

 

Quoting Radarma:

 

Quoting dustinsmom1:

 

Quoting Veni.Vidi.Vici.:


Quoting dustinsmom1:

 sidesplittinglaughterthats pretty funny shit.

have you read the replies? Just curious.

 No I havent. Multitaking w/ dinner, chicken parm and homemade garlic parmesan breadsticks. Trying to Cafemom and get dinner on the table lolol. Bu ti will later :)

 I am making stuffed mushrooms, first time ever. How daring of me. Enjoy your fowl.

 Oooooo I have an awesome stuffed mushroom recipe, easy and you just kind of eyeball the measurements.

Package of cream cheese

Shredded cheddar cheese (handful)

minced garlic (tablspoon or so)

cooked crumbled bacon (can never have too much bacon!)

Throw it together the food processor and stuff cleaned mushroom caps, bake 350 for 20-30 mins...soooooo good!

stringtheory
by Gold Member on Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:05 PM
2 moms liked this
Hmm, are you of an ethnic heritage that can be visually distinguished? I'm an ethnic "non-white," but have never experienced the slight my mother did as an Italian-American. No one would consider me a minority, but I have been called a "wop." Still, I would never claim to know what a minority might feel about the above list, which is accurate, but full of issues that the prominent population considers inconsequential. That is exactly why it is NOT bs.

Quoting ArianEponae:

If you're asking if I have a light complexion, yes I do. If you're wondering about cultural heritage, far from it.



Quoting stringtheory:

You're white, aren't you?





Quoting ArianEponae:

Wondering if she picked a number and then made stuff up to fill in the number...most of these were nonsense...
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
stacymomof2
by Ruby Member on Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:34 PM
1 mom liked this

I think it's silly for people to deny these things.  Can't they just listen to people around them and see that this list is true?  

And why is it so hard for people to admit it?  I don't feel guilty or personally responsible.  however being aware and understanding it makes it go away.  So if you are honestly interested in making institutional racism disappear, you must be aware of it, pay attention to it.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Interesting.

I don't understand this one:

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.

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:53 PM


Quoting little.worthen:

Some of these are vs, and some are just stupid. Like, opening the paper and seeing white people? Wth.. The BLACK president is in the paper all the time.

And this lady is racist, because not all black people are African.. Isn't that right?

Do you understand what widely represented means?

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

futureshock
by Ruby Member on Jan. 25, 2013 at 7:55 PM


Quoting pamelax3:

Very good information.. However, I do think some of these are going to the extreme, like lateness, that is not a race thing that is a individual responsibility

That is what it is supposed to be, however often times it is said to be a "black" thing.  That is the point.

Iconoclast
by on Jan. 25, 2013 at 8:01 PM
2 moms liked this

 I think that it is escaping her.  I recently saw an article about the Janelle Monae commercial and how the author of the article said she finally realized how it felt to be (paraphrasing) the odd man out.  Seeing that commercial with it's all black cast (Monae's band members) having a good time made her feel outside the fun (iykwim).  It opened her eyes to the fact of that bit of white privilege she usually enjoyed.


Quoting futureshock:


Quoting little.worthen:

Some of these are vs, and some are just stupid. Like, opening the paper and seeing white people? Wth.. The BLACK president is in the paper all the time.

And this lady is racist, because not all black people are African.. Isn't that right?

Do you understand what widely represented means?

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


 

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