Reading Response #1

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

White Privilege: An Unclear System

   The subtle and overlooked system of “white privilege” is addressed within the essay, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. Author Peggy McIntosh introduces to the reader the notion of how “white” people may experience specific societal advantages. (The privilege itself is compared to a knapsack, a metaphor that communicates a survival resource.) Throughout her essay, she analyzes the nature of “white privilege” and integrates aspects of her own personal life.

   McIntosh parallels the existence of “white privilege” to that of patriarchy. She concludes that people who benefit from such systems are either ignorant of their existence, or defensive of their involvement. In her acknowledgement and analyses of the disparity that exists between races, Peggy creates a list of her own advantages. The list includes not having to represent white race to not constantly being associated with a lower economic status.

   I found the essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” to cause a surprisingly personal impact. Peggy McIntosh clearly and eloquently places the existence of “white privilege” in a way that makes its existence undeniable. Not only did the essay serve to remind me of such systems that occur realistically; it actually made me feel uncomfortable. While I agree with everything the author had to say, I couldn’t help but feel somehow put on the spot as a “white” person. It is easy to forget the existence and impact that such systems can have on a society.



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