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What is White Privilege?

Photo: Kristin Brenemen and Anna Russell, License: N/A

Kristin Brenemen and Anna Russell

Antiracist writer Peggy McIntosh coined the phrase “knapsack of privilege” to refer to the “unearned assets” that members of the U.S.’s majority white culture enjoy, usually without knowing it. This creates what Jackson Free Press calls “the dirty water of privilege.”

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No one ever points out that I am “articulate.” _____

I can accomplish something without being called a “credit to my race.” _____

I can disagree with someone politically without being called an “angry (insert race) person.” _____

I’m never assumed to be a spokesperson for all people of my race. _____

If I ask to speak to the “person in charge,” I expect to see a person of my own race. _____

I am seldom, if ever, the only person of my race in a room. _____

If the police pull me over, I don’t assume it’s because of my race. _____

Most greeting cards, toys, magazines, picture books and such routinely feature people of my skin tone. _____

The media routinely interview people of my race for stories that have nothing to do with race (or crime or sports or music). _____

If I take a bandage out of a first-aid kit at work, it likely matches my skin tone. _____

When I get a new job or other honorific, no one would suspect it is because of my race. _____

I’m more likely to assume that a “wanted” teenager of color is a thug, and an accused white teen “made a mistake.” _____

I often wonder why or lament that people “still” talk about race. _____

This list is adapted from Peggy McIntosh’s essay, “Unpacking the Knapsack of White Privilege,” also the source of the following quote: “I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege.”

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