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White Privilege and Racism in American Society Essay

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Updated: Dec 1st, 2020

White privilege in US society is a controversial issue that provokes debates based on the racial question. In their work, Miller and Garran (2017) analyzed not only the issue of White privilege but also such concepts and phenomena as an “invisible knapsack” of this privilege, stereotyping, triangulation, and theories related to these aspects. Specific personal reactions to these concepts and reflections will be provided in this paper to accentuate my understanding of these issues.

Privilege in US Society and an “Invisible Knapsack”

It is possible to agree with the position of the authors regarding the presence of White privilege in society even if it is not noticeable in many cases. Although the first reaction to Miller and Garran’s (2017) discussion of this issue is the denial, reflecting on life experiences, I should state that Whites are perceived as individuals rather than the members of a certain ethnic group. Furthermore, the most famous White people are not usually viewed as courageous and active representatives of their race who can promote the change in society.

While being a White person, one can carry a “knapsack” associated with some privileges. I am also inclined to identify myself with some characteristics listed by Miller and Garran (2017). Thus, it is possible not to realize that some people are followed when they do shopping or become victims of racial profiling when others do not. The cause is in stereotyping against the representatives of some races who are perceived as less reliable persons (Legewie, 2016). It is also possible not to notice that White people are widely covered in the media, and the color of their skin is viewed as “normal” and “usual” (Dixon, 2017). Thus, I can identify myself with these aspects of the “knapsack” oftener than with others.

Triangulation

I noticed the case associated with triangulation at high school when two male representatives of Caucasian and Asian races united against a male representative of African Americans because he was the leader in the class in terms of academic achievements. This boy seemed to prove his intellectual abilities and success because of stereotypes that African Americans are less intelligent than Whites or Asians. I understood that the problem was in the boy’s face, and I interacted with him because of his personal qualities, not his ethnicity or achievements. Still, I realized that the case was a vivid example of racial prejudice, but educators and my class seemed not to notice that fact.

Stereotyping and the Vicious-Circle Phenomenon

Immigrants often become victims of stereotyping because they are perceived as less educated, knowledgeable, and clever US citizens. These stereotypes are based on the immigrants’ position in US society and the jobs they obtain (Hellwig & Sinno, 2017). Many immigrants have access only to the lowest-paying jobs that do not require qualifications, as well as to poor living conditions. This situation leads to the development of the vicious-circle phenomenon when immigrants of different ethnicity are viewed stereotypically which leads to implicit racism, possible microaggressions, and the further development of stereotypes,

Group Attribution Theory

Group attribution theory effectively explains why people are inclined to forgive or doubt some mistakes of White individuals, but they do not hesitate regarding blaming representatives of other races. Thus, the members of various ethnic groups can have different experiences regarding the same situation (Miller & Garran, 2017). It is possible to state that this tendency is observed in US society even today because African Americans, for example, are still viewed as more aggressive and tend to demonstrate deviant behaviors in contrast to White individuals.

Conclusion

I should state that White privilege and racism against the members of other ethnic groups are observed in modern US society. In many situations, people are unable to notice these tendencies because of having a certain “invisible knapsack” of privileges and being protected by it. On the other hand, immigrants and other vulnerable ethnic categories have to overcome stereotypes and microaggressions against them almost every day.

References

Dixon, T. L. (2017). Good guys are still always in white? Positive change and continued misrepresentation of race and crime on local television news. Communication Research, 44(6), 775-792.

Hellwig, T., & Sinno, A. (2017). Different groups, different threats: Public attitudes towards immigrants. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 43(3), 339-358.

Legewie, J. (2016). Racial profiling and use of force in police stops: How local events trigger periods of increased discrimination. American Journal of Sociology, 122(2), 379-424.

Miller, J., & Garran, A. M. (2017). Racism in the United States: Implications for the helping professions (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.

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