First of all, I made this an open thread in hopes that it'll make it easier to discuss. Also, the readings mainly talked about race, and touched on gender and sexuality, but in my summary I tried to apply the ideas to all aspects of identity.
I thought the readings were meant to pull together the ideas of unearned privilege being a tool of microaggression towards those deemed less powerful by society. In "Unpacking the Knapsack," Peggy McIntosh discusses how simply acknowledging the suppression and disadvantages of some is not enough. Those who are in positions of unearned power, like men, whites and cisgendered people, must also acknowledge their own privilege. For some this can be a difficult and uncomfortable realization, often invoking denial, and proving implications about society. As McIntosh states, " The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy." The basic foundations of this country, freedom for all regardless, are a farce. We must shine a light on the inherent inequality and reshape the system, beginning with the individual. "To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political... tool here."
Without this acknowledgment simply taking place in society as an unearned privileged person could almost compare to a microinvalidation. By making assumptions about an experience based on your identity you leave out the possibility that the experience could be oppressive to others. Doing this perpetuates the system by validating it from a position of power. In "Microaggressions in Everyday Life," Derald Wing Sue brings up the point that making assumptions about other races, no matter how subconscious, may be more powerful and cause more damage than overt hostility or racism. This certainly applies to all spectrums of diversity.
One question I had while reading this and relating it to my life personally is why is the realization of our own unearned privilege so hard to come to terms with? Is it because it would be admitting to being guilty of a crime bestowed on us at birth? We didn't make the rules of society and we didn't choose to be born a certain race, gender, sexuality. So is it about the fear of losing the comfort that our unearned privilege affords us?
Also, how is facing up to your own unearned privilege going to change society? None of the essays read here outline any solutions except "acceptance." The problem seems to be that the solution is relying on those in power to give up their power in the name of fairness, despite the fact that power was awarded arbitrarily. Once realized, what does one in power do to actually level the playing field?