Monday, March 23, 2009

Unpacking White privilege

Cliche, I know. But, seriously..."Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," by Peggy McIntosh was one of the first things that I read about White privilege.

My favorite paragraph: "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."

That's key! When talking to my White friends it is often difficult for them to realize that it's not just about people of color being at a disadvantage for different reasons, it's about being privileged and that being an advantage.

Whiteness is a concept that I believe I am addicted to. Ever since I was a little girl, I have been fascinated by it and I have learned how to behave and "act White," but am unable to pass for White because of my skin color. I have explained White privilege so many times to so many friends, and I think that the modifier "White" really puts them off. It's like they don't like that there is a special term that is negative because they "worked for everything they got" or their "family pulled themselves up by their bootstraps." It's almost as if the problem is not that they are offended that they are causing others to be disadvantaged, but that their pride is insulted because I am offering up another explanation to why they are so successful or are doing better than some other people of color. That's it I think. Pride. How dare I say that they didn't get to where they are by their own meritocracy. Well, I am. Deal with it.