Since the Obama Administration race and racism has become a rising issue. Weather this is irony or coincidence, racism continues to manifest in this new era. Attention has been given to issues of racial profiling and white privilege. Reciting the names, Oscar Grant, Trayvvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Mike Brown we are reminded of the impact racial bias and prejudice has on society. However, these incidents have spawned a new twitter hash-tag: #crimingwhilewhite. Young White people across America told stories of White Privilege, real stories of young people getting away with crime. After each story, they would tag, Criming While White. It grew short attention in the media acknowledging the phenomenon of White privilege. However, White privilege is not a new concept. It has been addressed over the decades by various professionals including Women’s Studies scholar Peggy McIntosh. By better understanding White privilege as observed in her essay, one can create change within themselves and others.
In her article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack”, author Peggy McIntosh documents some every day experiences of White privilege. She not only provides understanding, but also an evaluation of what this means for both whites and nonwhites. She uses matter-of-fact language that appeals to all people. Although she does not provide a clear definition, McIntosh gives a better understanding of the phenomenon. “I have come to see White privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious”, (McIntosh, 2010). It demonstrates inequality among groups of people. This is given out right, without question, and also it is a natural occurrence in American society. It has become common experience so much so that White privilege goes unnoticed by White people. It provides the different levels in which White privilege can occur. Observing White privilege as “invisible” helps non-whites to better understand how racism, prejudice, and bias behavior persist within a modern multi-cultural society. “From a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious”, (McIntosh, 2010).
White privilege can be thought of in many ways. As a person of color, white privilege can only be imagined. For many it is compared to having a, get-out-of-jail-free card or owning credit card with no limits. The possibility of White privilege becomes wide. This allows Whites to get out of traffic citations with a wave and smile or landing the perfect job after the first interview. However, McIntosh provides a broader and more realistic description. This can be seen when she provides a long list of her personal experiences of White privilege. While some were expected, such as a white majority in media other experiences she listed were surprising. “I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared”, (McIntosh, 2010). This suggests the underlying bias found among Americans that is practiced daily.
McIntosh description of White privilege brings light to personal experiences observed by myself and other people of color. This is counting the people in the room who represent your race or being passive in a group to not bring attention to your cultural difference. By realizing the incidence and experience of White privilege, individuals can become more aware by acknowledging the epidemic in society. Accounting to White privilege not only provides validation of its existence but also the unequal experiences of people of color.
McIntosh, P. (2010). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible backpack. In M. Anderson & P. Collins (Eds.), Race Class and Gender An Anthology (8 ed., p. 49). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.