Tuesday, October 13, 2009

girl power

I often believe that my readers are predominately women, well I actually assume that all of you are if I don't count the boy who checks my blog every now and again :). By that chance that I am even the slightest bit correct, then I'm sure that you are familiar with unacknowledged male privilege. I have never taken a Women's Studies course, nor have I burnt my bra in feminist protest, but my point is: for as much men as there are that agree with the claim that women are disadvantaged in some way or another, they will hardly ever accept the fact that they are overprivileged. Hm, interesting, huh?

This concept was taken from an article I recently read by Peggy McIntosh. With this phenomenon in mind, she sought to find a similar societal hierarchy that is both denied, and protected... "white privilege." So, she created a list in which she at least identifies some of the daily effects of white privilege in her own life. These circumstances "attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion , ethnic status, or geographical location, though of course all these factors are intricately intertwined." There were 26, I shortened the list to 16, please just read and think about it:
  1. I can if I wish to arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
  2. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
  3. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  4. When I am told about our national heritage or "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  5. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
  6. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
  7. I can swear, or dress in secondhand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
  8. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
  9. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group. 
  10. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
  11. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outside.
  12. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax returns, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.
  13. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
  14. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
  15. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation, whether it has racial overtones.
  16. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.
McIntosh identifies as a white female. "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." What race do you identify with? What are your reactions to McIntosh's article, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack? What does the term race even mean?

1 comment:

  1. For the record, I do check in from time to time, though don't let that stop you from addressing us all as "darlings" :)


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