Initial Summary: Privilege Diablog

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White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack by Peggy McIntosh addresses concepts surrounding privilege. McIntosh 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." In society, we tend to recognize all races besides whiteness. Not identifying white as a race makes one reject the notion that white privilege exists, which can be extremely harmful to individuals outside of the white race. The author continues to confess that she "must give up the myth of meritocracy." In other words, believing that she has fairly worked her way into wealth and education is, in fact, not all a result of her so-called hard work. Oppression can also occur on an unconscious level: "I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth." McIntosh provides many examples, or a "checklist," of how these are demonstrated throughout society, and how it is crucial for people of the white race to acknowledge these attributes. The article Cis Privilege Checklist is used to prove the reality of white privilege, but helps to provide solutions. It also focuses more closely on the advantages gained by non-transgender people.

In Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life, the authors define racial migroaggressions as "the brief and everyday slights, insults, indignities and denigrating messages sent to people of color by well-intentioned White people who are unaware of the hidden messages being communicated." Whites see themselves as good people who are not racists and are often not aware of their prejudices. For example, a white couple may tighten their grip on a purse or wallet when a black man steps onto the bus. Although they may not be consciously aware of these actions, they have a preconceived notion that black men commit more thefts. These under-the-radar actions have serious implications for people of the non-white race. It creates a vicious cycle that non-white races cannot get out of, especially since the racism goes unnoticed by the oppressors themselves.

Questions for thought:
Is it possible to reverse white privilege or is it too engrained in our culture? Can it only be acknowledged? What exactly can people of the white race do to help hinder the affects of racism?

4 Comments

Supposing that white privilege does exist, time and education would be the only way to eliminate it. There is no way to legislate the issue out of existence. Things like slavery reparations would only inflame racial tensions, IMO.

I agree with Mike that time and education would be the way to go about it, however, I don't think it is possible to eliminate it in America for good. Racism occurs everywhere since people are going to be judgmental. Race is kind of the same as Stereotypes. Popular kids make fun of the the nerds, etc... This is, of course, my opinion.

I agree that time would be a large factor in eliminating white privilege. It would be impossible to completely uproot it from existence, especially since it does not solely exist in the United States. Whites, and more specifically, United States citizens, are afforded a great deal of privilege across the globe. We are able to travel to certain countries without a visa based on our citizenship, we are treated with a higher level of respect in different countries, etc.

I believe that racism has definitely decreased in the United States within the last several decades, as is evidenced by comparing attitudes toward different races generation-by-generation. Microagressions have, apparently, replaced the blatant racist remarks that used to be openly voiced 50-100 years ago. Since some of these are subconscious, such as reaching for one's purse while passing an African American male, it would be difficult to reverse the intuition. If one could stop oneself from acting on the intuition, they would, hopefully, be able to prevent the intuition from being spread to their children. This is where time comes into effect.

I agree with you. Education and time are probably the best hopes, and any sort of legislation about it would damage all of the work done to eliminate such biases. It never works to force people out of their behaviors. For example, groups like the KKK are not illegal because it would most likely create a larger population of members, act out in rage, or the like. Only with proper education can groups like these be fizzled out. Whether it's sex or drug education or racial bias, teaching our youth about these ideas are the only way we can completely eliminate as a source of discrimination.

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