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Thursday, July 7, 2022

Peggy McIntosch and her “White Privilege” checklist

By Devin ContrerasSpecial to CSMS MagazineDiscrimination as a result of religious beliefs, gender, color, and race has existed in this world for many years.  I am not a white American, I am a white Hispanic who’s family also felt the cruelty of oppression when they migrated to the United States from Cuba in the 1960s. In addition to not being well liked, my family encountered segregation, an issue that was not prevalent in Cuba in the 1960s.    Segregation was the in-humane act of rejecting a race due to the color of their skin. I was in my infancy when segregation was practiced in many of the fifty states.  The stories on segregation I heard as a child became more realistic to me when I began to take social studies courses in school.     Peggy McIntosh’s article “Daily Effect of White Privilege,” recounts the many advantages the white people had over the black people. Peggy refers to oppression as a “phenomenon.”  I believe this is not the correct choice of word to use for an ideology that was manmade, premeditated, and has a fascist outlook towards any ethnicity.     I agree with Peggy that all fifty conditions she mentioned in her article were taking place in white American during segregation, and even after the Civil Rights Movement, for Reconstruction were in full swing. However, it is a different story now, and many laws have been passed that protect African Americans from being discriminated upon.     Peggy wrote this paper in 1989, and I am curious to know what city and state Peggy was using as an example of where to encounter these situation. I was going for my first attempt at college around the time Ms. McIntosh wrote the paper, and I do not recall any racial tension in my hometown or school during that period.     On the contrary, black and white students mingled in a friendly atmosphere and were often seen hanging around campus together and partaking in all types of activities, even outside of the school environment.  I can’t imagine a Hispanic Black student learning English in the situation Peggy describes in her paper.      Not only would the student be shunned because of his color, he/she would also be discriminated on his/her heritage. In society today, what I do hear most often is racial slur. However, I can honestly say that I have encountered three of these conditions at one point in time, they are: condition numbers 3, 4, and 14, on the White Privilege Checklist.     Condition three: “When I turn on the television or open to the front page of the newspaper I see people of my color, not necessarily my race, widely represented.” The majority of the actors appearing in a television reality show or real life dramas are white. The majority of the educational shows, home improvement channels, and cooking network all have white hosts. Is this why there is (BET) Black Entertainment Television? Some newspapers rarely depict ethnic groups other than whites in a positive manner, and there are very few black authors writing columns in newspapers.    Condition four: “When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.” I encountered this in grade school. The Founding Fathers were all white Americans, and their stories were depicted in history books and their pictures adorned every classroom. It was not until high school that I began to see more African American leaders being recognized for helping to shape America. In this day and age, you will see a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King on a wall in many classrooms.     Condition fourteen: “I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk with the person in charge, I will be facing a person of my race.”  I remember this one the most, as a matter of fact, I remember asking my mother about it on one occasion and she acknowledged that she, too, had pondered the question.  To this day I remember her answer: “prejudice.”     The philosophy that the white race was superior among other races was an unrealistic issue while I was growing up in America.  I was raised in a Christian home, and was taught that all civilization was equal. The U.S. is a melting pot of ethnic groups who should live in harmony and take care of our mother Earth, so that she, too, will care for us for millions of years. I will end this piece with a quote from Maria Steward, African American abolitionist and schoolteacher: “It is not the color of the skin that makes the man or the woman, but the principle formed in the soul. Brilliant wit will shine, come from whence it will; and genius and talent will not hide the brightness of its luster.”

                       White Privilege Checklist

 Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, describes white privilege as is an invisible package of unearned assets, which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was ‚meant™ to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks”  (McIntosh, 1989).The following are examples of ways white individuals have privilege because they are white. Please read the list and place a check next to the privileges that apply to you or that you have encountered. At the end, try to list at least two more ways you have privilege based on your race.___ 1. I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.___ 2. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be            followed or harassed._X__ 3. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.__X_ 4. When I am told about our national heritage or about civilization, I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.___ 5. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to theexistence of their race.___ 6. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the food I grew up with, into a hairdressers shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.___ 7. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial responsibility.___ 8. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing, or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.___ 9. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.___ 10. I can take a job or enroll in a college with an affirmative action policy without having myco-workers or peers assume I got it because of my race.___ 11. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.___ 12. I can choose public accommodation with out fearing that people of my race cannot get inor will be mistreated.___ 13. I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group._X__ 14. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk with the person in charge I will be facing a person of my race.___ 15. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.___ 16. I can easily by posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, andchildren’s magazines featuring people of my race.___ 17. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in flesh color and have them more or less match my skin.___ 18. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.___ 19. I can walk into a classroom and know I will not be the only member of my race.___ 20. I can enroll in a class at college and be sure that the majority of my professors will be of my race.Racial privilege is only one forms of privilege. What are other examples of privilege? (e.g., privilege based on gender, sexual orientation, class, and religion). Can you think of ways one might have privilege based on these factors? (e.g., that you do not have to worry about being verbally or physically harassed because of your sexual orientation; or you can be sure that your religious holiday will be acknowledged and represented in store displays, classroom discussions, etc.). Please list these forms of privilege.Also see Dominant Culture: http://www.csmsmagazine.org/news.php?pg=20060829I239

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