Summary to “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

April 15, 2010 tihesa

Our class led a brief discussion about white privilege. This was after having read an essay entitled, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack , written by Peggy McIntosh, associate director of Wellesley Collage Center for Research on Women. The essay opens up by McIntosh quoting herself saying, “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.”
As McIntosh continues on in her essay she later states,”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.
Then she continues on to say, “I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. 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.”
These statements opened my mind up to many thoughts about the way that society treats others in comparison to the way that white people are treated. I would definitely have to agree with what is being said. Even though society has come a long way it still has a longer way to go. There are so many things that minorities will never have the opportunity to fully experience or understand because we are not white
It doesn’t matter how much we do, how hard we work, how much money we have, what person we marry, who’s ass we kiss. We will never have white privileges. If I were to go into a 5star restaurant well dressed with designer clothes and had millions in my purse. A white couple also enters that same restaurant/social lounge well dressed . This is a place that is known for catering to people who have high dividends. Guaranteed the white couple would get in before me.
White people are not stereotyped like other races are. They are not looked down upon. The list of Daily effects of White privilege that McIntosh describe are perfect examples. Here are a few of her points:
5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
These are just a few. This essay was written in 1988, so a lot of the items she has listed have been modified due to changes in society but not really.
It is a point that is true no matter how you look at it. White people are privileged. That is just the bottom line. It is just that some or more privileged than others. Some by way of money and skin. Others may be privileged just by skin alone.
One more small thing I wanted to point out. Have you ever noticed that if you hear the word white it is always associated with purity. Why does a white lie have to be a little one. You also have Angel food Cake. If you are a virgin you get married in white. White doves also signify purity. And so does the white rose.


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