Before beginning the readings, I browsed the titles and groaned; all four articles discussed the concept of white privilege. This is not something I believe in, much like I once believed that learning is simply a matter of choice to do so, I want to believe that the effort you put in earned you what you got if for no other reason than the simple comfort of believing there is a payoff for hard work. At the same time, I do not wish to portray myself as ignorant or naïve enough not to believe that racism is still an issue that requires both attention and resolving. In reading the first line of McIntosh’s (1990) “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” I recognize myself in her descriptor of the men who are threatened by the existence of the idea of male privilege (p. 31). The defensiveness and arguments I find myself mentally forming range from the “I work for what I have” to “I find the implication that I’m racist offensive.” Two of my brothers-in-law are African American, one my husband’s own brother by adoption, as are two of my nephews and two of my nieces—aside from mental recognizing the label of their ethnicity, this means nothing to me in terms of the people they are or how I react to them. Both of my brother-in-laws appear to have had the same opportunities for advantages as I have myself. This exception makes it easy to call into question the existence of white privilege, something I do only because I wish the security a system of meritocracy offers.
Then McIntosh (1990) offers her list of privilege, and I see myself again (p. 31). McIntosh (1990) explains that it was her work in identifying male privilege that highlight her own failure to identify the role of white privilege ...
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...her education, but one suggestion, in terms of developing pre-requisite classes on cultural identities (Cain, 2012, p. 204). This particular suggestion actually made me excited since while I teach cultures in the traditional sense, I do teach English, and with that comes Literature. While yesterday I scoffed at an article about a teacher refusing to teach Shakespeare because of his position in White canon, I do acknowledge space for more multicultural literature that my students might find either enlightening or more relevant to their own experiences.
This series of readings has been a one-eighty experience for me, moving from anger and denial to recognition and a sense of hope. It is not acceptable to refuse that privilege and advantage exist, and it is also not acceptable to ignore a problem exists when you have the ability to affect change even on a small level.
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