White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Topic: SocietyHistory
Sample donated:
Last updated: February 9, 2019

History has been witness to different forms of discrimination and oppression among certain classes or groups of people in society not similarly situated. The wounds which have been inflicted are too deep for any kind of discursive prophylactic measures to heal instantaneously no matter how meaningful and earnest. Memory of past hurts still linger although the cries of pain and suffering have abated gradually throughout the years. The pervasive silence of the minority to the continued practices of discrimination, however, does not mean that the problem had been solved; neither does the lack of volume with regards to the cries against disparate treatment mean that the minority no longer suffers from inequity. In this vein, Peggy McIntosh’s article digs deep in the extant mythical systems of unacknowledged privileges enjoyed by a favored class in order to unpack History of its baggage that have been buried to oblivion (McIntosh 1).The article is written with utmost sincerity and honesty as the author owns up to her being part of the oppressive force after she realizes that she has been enjoying a number of implied advantages simply by the color of her skin.

She opines further that the myths of an equalized society, of a color-blind community and of a neutral state have been perpetuated to the point that theory is no longer aligned with reality. In other words, the problem has been reworded into grand narratives of equality and fairness (4). What this does is merely to rehash inequality in subtle terms, that is, the privileged white majority becomes unnaturally apologetic, overtly accommodating and rather anxious to please or not to displease the African American. Discourse has taught the people to know the difference between a racial slur to a condescending and politically correct way to communicate to the colored minority. Grammar and rhetoric have changed but the theory, as applied, appears to worsen the divide in unspeakable terms.Such unspeakability is at once resolved by McIntosh’s list of the unacknowledged truths to being white and privileged.

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It elicits an overall feeling of discomfort inasmuch as the list exposes the hushed realities of white privileges. The issue of white over black has long been thought of as a matter of the past, and as such, the relative calm and peace need not to be disturbed. But this just means that society has turned its face away the issue under the assumption that if we do not heed to a problem then it is bound to perish from inattention. The problem of the White Privilege will not go away until the myths that are strongly inculturated in the United States is re-examined (6). Indeed, if there was anything lamentable about the list that McIntosh has drawn up, it is that the provocative inventory of privileges failed to enumerate more.


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