Thursday, September 18, 2008

Let's Talk About White Privilege

I often have to explain heterosexual privilege to straight people but realize with this election white privilege is playing out in myriad ways. Here's a good article to get you started. In it, author Peggy McIntosh gives an extraordinary list of how white privilege informs daily life. Here are the first ten examples:
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
The entire article is a must-read as it sheds light on the minefield that makes up white privilege and the difficulty in addressing and rectifying it. Here is an article describing some of the issues related to this campaign. While some of them are a bit of a stretch, you'll get the idea. For example,
White privilege is being able to be a gun enthusiast and not make people immediately scared of you. White privilege is being able to have a husband who was a member of an extremist political party that wants your state to secede from the Union, and whose motto was "Alaska first," and no one questions your patriotism or that of your family, while if you're black and your spouse merely fails to come to a 9/11 memorial so she can be home with her kids on the first day of school, people immediately think she's being disrespectful.
So, think about ways you experience white privilege and what you can do to change the narrative in your own life and in this election.

h/t Feministing

Obama/Biden 2008

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