In the article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," Peggy McIntosh is a white woman who decided to work on herself by identifying effects of white privilege in her life. She is...

In the article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," Peggy McIntosh is a white woman who decided to work on herself by identifying effects of white privilege in her life. She is referring to skin-color privilege. Do you agree with what she is saying in instances such as when she claims that:

"I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race"

your response doesn't have to be long, it could be short

Asked on by readeal3

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mizzwillie's profile pic

mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Actually, I do agree with Ms. McIntosh's ideas about white privilege.  When she writes that she can "do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race", she is writing about when any person of color who does well at anything challenging, they are labeled with being a representative of their race. Think of Tiger Woods who at the beginning of his career was never described as a golfer; the adjectives used make you think of Ms. McIntosh's theory of representing your race if you are not white.  If you think of other athletes, who are practically worshipped in this country, they often are from poor backgrounds and then thrust into the limelight about everything in their lives.  They have no one to really guide them either financially or behaviorally which leaves them without a compass while everything they do is put under a microscope.  They are forced to endure unfamiliar stringent standards to be "a model for every student of color" and some fail the test.  If they do well, they are hailed as the "example" for every student who is trying to leave the hardships of being poor.  If they help their old neighborhood, they are hailed as the wonderful person "who hasn't forgotten where they came from."  In other words, they cannot just "be" a successful athlete; they are held up to the standard of being one of those who are "a credit to their race".   Another way to look at this question is to look at women.  If a woman becomes the first woman to break the glass ceiling, she is hailed as the pioneer for all women rather than looking at just her own accomplishment.  Having had students of color live with my husband and me, I have watched first hand the effects of white privilege.  If I am alone in a shop, no one pays attention; if one of my students is with me, we are watched more carefully. If one of the students is particularly successful, the phrase "credit to their race" or country is almost always part of the description.   Good luck with this question as I find it a fascinating and critical topic in this country.

Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

I definitely agree with the author of this article. I especially agree with the point she made about always being represented in media. Everywhere you look, the standard of beauty and normalcy portrays whiteness as perfection. Its so easy to buy dolls, posters, etc featuring white people. Representation in media may seem like a little thing but it plays a huge role on the self-esteem of youth. 

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