White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. (1988)
Notes and Quotes
- McIntosh starts her essay discussing how men have more power and privilege over women and that although men may accept that women are not treated equally to men, few men would agree that they are over privileged and should give some of it up.
- McIntosh agues that education does not properly address the all issues related to racism as it simply deals with history and the obvious visible racist acts such as violence and segredation.
- McIntosh lists x50 privileges white people unconsciously enjoy/take for granted over people of colour. Most of which is linked to attitude, stealthy bigotry, and dominance of power.
- I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male 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.
- My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work that will allow “them” to be more like “us.”
- My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as belonging in major ways and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms. Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely.
- In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated.
- I want, then, to distinguish between earned strength and unearned power conferred privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or to dominate.
- In my class and place, 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.
- To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subject taboo. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.