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18 September 2013 @ 10:06 am
Invisible Systems  
I suspect most of my regular readers have not only heard of white privilege but have also read accounts of the ways white privilege benefits those of us who are white. (Obviously my readers who don't share this privilege are already painfully aware.) I've read various lists but this is one of the more complete ones I've come across (though I'm sure we could add to it). White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.

"I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group"

An excerpt of her list of ways white privilege benefits us:

Daily effects of white privilege

I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.

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. Read more, fifty items total in this list!