White Privilege in America

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What is privilege? What does it mean? Is privilege inherited or is it earned? As an American resident of color I’ve learned that privilege in this country is something that is innate and inherited. The privilege that I speak of is that of White privilege.

There are two prominent writer/scholars who have taken the issue of white privilege to heart and have shared their expert analysis on the subject; these authors/writer-scholars are Peggy McIntosh, a white feminist, and Beverly Tatum, an African American Psychologist. McIntosh, in her article "Coming to See Correspondences," makes excellent observations about the privilege that she has experienced just by being a white female in America. The two most significant points made by McIntosh in this article are as follows. One, “A white skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us…the silence and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tools here” (P. 104). The second and even more important point is that “the obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all…props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already” (105).

Both points serve McIntosh’s objective of making clear that the notion of white privilege is not a myth. Due to the socially constructed and arbitrary nature of ideologies concerning race (a biological, phenotypic/ (physical) expression of human features) the highly immoral and nonsensical practice [whether recognized or not] of white supr...

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... of “defeatism” in which people of color refuse to adhere to the demands and requirements of popular culture because they believe their efforts and accomplishments will go unrecognized. This psychological ditch works against the advancement of people of color and serves to further perpetuate the institutionalized practice of passive racism by influencing minority groups to remove themselves from the realm of socio-economic mobility, the attainment of education and involvement in political activity.

Both authors have recognized the fundamental structures behind privilege –specifically white privilege in America. Their purpose and that of many civil right activists of our era is to bring awareness to those who are in positions of privilege to bring change that fosters the spirit of inclusion, reform and progression into America’s social and mainstream environments.

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