White Privilege in Reality-Reading Response 1

January 18, 2012 § 8 Comments

If you take a moment and just look around our WOST 380 class, it shows white privilege in reality. Look at it, the born opportunity, the first choice, the easier path, and the “norm” of America’s society. You might just see it as Purdue being a predominantly white institution, but I see it as an open atmosphere of white privilege, with a few speckles of color.

McIntosh states that whites aren’t taught to recognize the fact that they have white privilege. To test this theory I asked four of my fellow peers, two whites and two Blacks, if they thought Purdue was diverse. The two whites said yes they did for reasons such as “two Asians in my lab group” or “3 Blacks on my floor.” The other two girls came to reason that Purdue wasn’t diverse because it was a predominantly white institution and “a few international kids don’t make things different, everywhere you go its all white people.” The perspectives of the girls were very opposite and it seemed that the statement McIntosh said was true. The white girls were oblivious to the fact that it was a predominantly white institution, but noticed maybe one or two people that were different than them. The Black girls saw Purdue as a whole and recognized the fact that it was predominantly white and had little diversity.

I agree that it will take a lot of efforts and realization in order to “redesign social systems and change racism.” The white privilege would have to be brought to light and other races will have to be sure to stand for equality so that justice is truly done.

-i am open to opinions an comments. no offense, non taken.


§ 8 Responses to White Privilege in Reality-Reading Response 1

  • While I admire what you have to say, I feel that you are overgeneralizing. Although there is a relationship between diversity and privilege they are not the same thing. If you consider where the students who go to Purdue have come from, it is not surprising that this campus is predominantly white. According to Purdue’s enrollment report from 2011, 80% of Purdue students are Indiana residents. According to the 2010 Census, Indiana is 84% White and 9% Black. I had a difficult time finding enrollment statistics by race, but according to the source I found 71% of Purdue students are White, 3% are Black, and 15% are International students. Considering that Indiana is a predominately White state and most of the students who go to Purdue are from Indiana, Purdue is not a good test of the diversity of the academic world but rather a sign of the lack of diversity in Indiana, perhaps even in the Midwest.

    As far as privilege, historically, going to college in this country has been for the privileged. Yes, White privilege has been a part of that. But so has class privilege and male privilege, and these other privileges should also be considered in order to look at the issue in its entirety. Currently 29% of Americans have college degrees–a college education in the U.S. is still something for a privileged minority whether that privilege is based on race, class, or gender. I think whether an individual is able to get a college education as much an issue of class as race. What do others think?

    Here are the statistics I used. If anyone can find a better source for enrollment statistics by race please let me know.




  • bibliogay says:

    I have to agree that Purdue is a huge example of white privilege found in society. This campus is one of the lesser diverse colleges in the nation on several fronts. The extreme lack of cultural diversity in general is problematic for the minorities that do exist on campus, despite the attempts by campus clubs and organizations to rectify that. As a whole, I’d even go as far as to say that the university itself propagates the heternormative white privilege.

    • boilerup0924 says:

      What I didn’t say in words, you said it just right! What I thought, but didn’t have room to say, you thought of also. Thanks. I concur!

  • boilerup0924 says:

    Also a good point made by Amandamanbear…it comes to show that it has been like this for years and is considered “normal” an is just now being pushed for change.

  • colekulina says:

    The white people that you asked about the diversity of Purdue must really be oblivious. Being a white person myself, I would most certainly not consider this even remotely close to diverse. But this is Indiana, so I honestly wouldn’t expect too much.

    In saying this though, when I first read this essay in the intro class, a lot of these points were certainly things that I had not realized were true. It’s a sad reality, but it’s a reality never the less.

  • ebestrom says:

    I think the homogenous racial composition of Purdue is less a function of discrimination at the university level and is dictated by two other factors. Minorities are underrepresented in the sciences and engineering nationwide. This is a separate issue from the school population as a whole and has been attributed to many factors including uneven quality in high school science programs. Those are two of the largest magnet schools for Purdue. While liberal arts boasts the highest enrollment there is far more competition for the best liberal arts schools in the Midwest.

    That second factor is that the Indiana is not a particularity diverse state. Students normally go to a university within driving range of their home. This means that for many minorities Purdue is not the closest University to their home. If Purdue is not an particularly high ranked school in the field that a student would like to study there is little to no motivation to go further for an equal and possibly more expensive education.

    Once at the graduate level the situation is somewhat better. Minorities are better represented in graduate programs. Graduate programs tend to attract students from greater distance because finding the ideal program and adviser is far more important than in undergraduate studies. But even at the graduate level the homogenous nature of Indiana is a deterrent to many individuals.

  • You have to take into consideration the location of Purdue University, along with University policies. Rather than ask if Purdue is a predominantly white school, look into diversity attempts and equal opportunity.
    I understand that attending a college institution is a complex process, and white privilege may come into play in regards of applications. But I would take a minute to note if Purdue is following diversity guidelines and adhering to equal policies. If Purdue wasn’t being fair in addressing applications you would have more of a concrete issue, not to dismiss any challenges that occur in regards to applications.

  • This article reminded me of our conversation on diversity at Purdue, pointing to the fact that having diversity here cannot simply be left to the numbers. We have to work on it.

    Purdue is touting their new numbers on retention of underrepresented minorities.


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