In my previous post, I talked about discussing the concept of privilege (male privilege, white privilege, and class privilege) with nuance. Earlier that week, I had led a workshop at a local church on “Fine-tuning Privilege,” using Peggy McIntosh’s 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” as a resource. (If you are unfamiliar with it, take a few minutes to read it and reflect upon it.) Part of my talk was about naming and understanding privilege. Discussion and comprehension are not enough, though. We must counter it.
One strategy for fighting privilege is making it visible. The recipients of privilege are often unaware that they have to systemic advantage over others. Privilege, used in the context of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, and religious dominance, is not something earned on merit alone. In the essay linked above, McIntosh describes it like this: “I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.” These are conditions built into our culture that some groups receive which benefit them to the detriment of others. Making privilege visible means naming it and calling it out. Wage gaps, digital divides, and racial profiling practices exist; ignoring them perpetrates the problems.
Continue reading “What Can We Do to Weaken Privilege? by Elise M. Edwards”
Yesterday evening, I led a seminar at a local church as part of their series on “Unpacking Privilege.” Once before, I’d been invited to this church, Lake Shore Baptist Church, to speak about intersectional feminism with one of my colleagues, so I expected them to be open-minded and welcoming. They were. Although the attendees were overwhelmingly white and older than me, they were attentive and engaged. We had an enriching time together diving into topics like male privilege, white privilege, and class privilege with Peggy McIntosh’s 1989 essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” as a resource. (If you are unfamiliar with it, I recommend taking a few minutes to read it and reflect.)
In the essay, McIntosh writes about becoming critical of male privilege and men’s obliviousness to it through her work in Women’s Studies, which then led her to see her own race privilege (as a white woman) and her obliviousness to it. The essay does not offer a precise definition of white privilege, but the entire piece is a reflection about it. She explains:
“I have come to see white privilege as 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, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.”
Continue reading “Talking about Privilege with Nuance by Elise M. Edwards”
Recently FAR contributor Sara Frykenberg posted an article to Facebook that caused me to think again about the now-famous essay by Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” In “Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person,” Gina Crosley-Corcoran does an excellent job of including issues of class, meaning poverty, into the discourse about race and privilege using the theory of intersectionality. If I am honest, the tensions between race and poverty have made the owning my white privilege challenging.
Like Crosley-Corcoran, I was raised in poverty. After my parents divorced in the early 1960s, our fall into poverty was pronounced. My mother liked to move, so much so that I attended no less than 15 different schools before high school. We lived in one house for two years without hot water. I learned early on the stigma of poverty, when even a Catholic school uniform could not protect me from signs of inferiority. Perhaps worse was the alienation I experienced as a young girl when other children’s parents discovered my father’s second job as a tattoo artist. Once that was known, most friends could no longer play with me outside of school. My psyche situated itself between shame and love, with the burden of keeping my humiliation a secret from the rest of my family. Continue reading “White Privilege: Confessions of a Poor White Girl by Cynthia Garrity-Bond”