The invisible white privilege

And in the car, she would sit in the back and pretend to be the family maid. They had gotten married in neighboring Swaziland, but back home their marriage was illegal. Apartheid leaders claimed that segregated cities were better for everyone, and apartheid was strictly enforced. But everybody knows Ponte.

The invisible white privilege

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The invisible white privilege

A further paralysis of nerve comes from literary silence protecting privilege. Nor did I think of any of these perquisites as bad for the holder.

I now think that we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some of these varieties are only what one would want for everyone in a just society, and others give license to be ignorant, oblivious, arrogant, and destructive.

Before proposing some more finely tuned categorization, I will make some observations about the general effects of these conditions on my life and expectations.

In this potpourri of examples, some privileges make me feel at home in the world. Others allow me to escape penalties or dangers that others suffer. Through some, I escape fear, anxiety, insult, injury, or a sense of not being welcome, not being real.

Some keep me from having to hide, to be in disguise, to feel sick or crazy, to negotiate each transaction from the position of being an outsider or, within my group, a person who is suspected of having too close links with a dominant culture. Most keep me from having to be angry.

I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a pattern of assumptions that were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turf, and I was among those who The invisible white privilege control the turf.

I could measure up to the cultural standards and take advantage of the many options I saw around me to make what the culture would call a success of my life.

My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as "belonging" in major ways and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms.

Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely. My life was reflected back to me frequently enough so that I felt, with regard to my race, if not to my sex, like one of the real people. I was given cultural permission not to hear voices of people of other races or a tepid cultural tolerance for hearing or acting on such voices.

In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated.

Ponte City Tower - 99% Invisible

Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit in turn upon people of color. For this reason, the word "privilege" now seems to me misleading.

Its connotations are too positive to fit the conditions and behaviors which "privilege systems" produce.

We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned, or conferred by birth or luck. School graduates are reminded they are privileged and urged to use their enviable assets well.

The word "privilege" carries the connotation of being something everyone must want. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work to systemically overempower certain groups. The kind of privilege that gives license to some people to be, at best, thoughtless and, at worst, murderous should not continue to be referred to as a desirable attribute.

Such "privilege" may be widely desired without being in any way beneficial to the whole society. Moreover, though "privilege" may confer power, it does not confer moral strength. Those who do not depend on conferred dominance have traits and qualities that may never develop in those who do.

In some groups, those dominated have actually become strong through not having all of these unearned advantages, and this gives them a great deal to teach the others. I want, then, to distinguish between earned strength and unearned power conferred systemically.

Power from unearned privilege can look like strength when it is, in fact, permission to escape or to dominate. But not all of the privileges on my list are inevitably damaging. Some, like the expectation that neighbors will be decent to you, or that your race will not count against you in court, should be the norm in a just society and should be considered as the entitlement of everyone.

Others, like the privilege not to listen to less powerful people, distort the humanity of the holders as well as the ignored groups. Others have to do with not pervasive-negative stereotyping and mythology. We might at least start by distinguishing between positive advantages that we can work to spread, to the point where they are not advantages at all but simply part of the normal civic and social fabric, and negative types of advantage that unless rejected will always reinforce our present hierarchies.

For example, the positive "privilege" of belonging, the feeling that one belongs within the human circle, as Native Americans say, fosters development and should not be seen as privilege for a few.

It is, let us say, an entitlement that none of us should have to earn; ideally it is an unearned entitlement. At present, since only a few have it, it is an unearned advantage for them.

This paper results from a process of coming to see that some of the power that I originally saw as attendant on being a human being in the United States consisted in unearned advantage and confirmed dominance, as well as other kinds of special circumstance not universally taken for granted.

In writing this paper I have also realized that white identity and status as well as class identity and status give me considerable power to choose whether to broach this subject and its trouble.

I can pretty well decide whether to disappear and avoid and not listen and escape the dislike I may engender in other people through this essay, or interrupt, answer, interpret, preach, correct, criticize, and control to some extent what goes on in reaction to it.Now, I wasn't always a middle class white man.

It all happened for me about 30 years ago when I was in graduate school, and a bunch of us graduate students got together one day, and we said, you know, there's an explosion of writing and thinking in feminist theory, but there's no courses yet.

The British were certainly not the first to believe that they were superior to other groups. What they introduced, which is at the core of the concept of race, is that superiority and inferiority were located in the body itself and passed on through reproduction.

Seeing White: An Introduction to White Privilege and Race [Jean Halley, Amy Eshleman, Ramya Mahadevan Vijaya] on attheheels.com *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers.

This interdisciplinary textbook challenges students to see race as everyone's issue. Drawing on sociology. Real-Time News from attheheels.com; Interracial in Alabama: 'White privilege is real,' husband says, 'and white people need to understand that'.

"White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" and "Some Notes for Facilitators". Or maybe it’s the privilege my grandmother had of spending weeks upon weeks on a death march through Polish forests in subzero temperatures, one of just a handful to survive, only to be put in.

National SEED Project - White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack