Migration and globalization have encouraged the growth of multi-racial communities. These factors have contributed positively towards cultural diversity. However, they have contributed to issues of racism and discrimination (Schaefer, 2011). This paper analyzes the issue of white privilege. This issue has been notorious for sparking conflicts between races in the in America. This paper focuses on an article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh to analyze this issue.
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Individuals use the term “white” to refer to people of Caucasian descent. Further, they have coined the term “white privilege” to refer to the advantages, benefits, rights, and immunities granted to and enjoyed by white people, which are not available to other people in the community.
McIntosh refers to white privilege as an invisible knapsack. According to her, white privilege is the same as a weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks (McIntosh, 1988).
In her article, she explains that white people view the issue white privilege as a benefit that puts other races at a disadvantage and not as a benefit, which puts the white people at an advantage. She documents that white people are at times unconscious of their oppressive nature. McIntosh argues that white people have benefits that they do not utilize fully. For example, freedom to live in any neighborhood, being the majority, and many opportunities among others.
I agree with Ms. McIntosh. This is because the idea she presents about the white privilege is true. White people grow up knowing that their natural privileges serve to disadvantage others. This means they have to ensure that their behavior, dress code, and speech among others are racially neutral. For the white people, it is always about caring not to hurt other races rather than enjoying the benefits of being white. However, whites should learn to look at the privileges they have as a benefit to them (Barlas, et al, 2012).
Although being African-American or Latino has many disadvantages, it has several privileges. These races enjoy some benefits that are unavailable to the white people. These races are more tolerant, have numerous experiences, and boast of a rich history and culture.
Skin color and history of oppression of African-Americans and Latinos act as a privilege for them. For instance, if there is a conflict between a white person and an African-American or Latino issues of racism come up. Obviously, such a situation favors the African-American or Latino as compared to the Caucasian.
There are similarities between the whites, African-Americans, and Latinos in terms of their experiences, customs, and attributes. This is because the respective races share the same geographical environment. These groups behave differently in terms of the way they relate to their experiences and customs. However, these races relate to the customs in the same way. In addition, these two groups have encountered pleasant and unpleasant experiences due to their races.
Supposing white people were not the predominant group in the U.S, the society would still have some privilege issues. For instance, they would have issues relating to gender, religion, and education among others. However, the ground for acquiring privileges would be more level.
Issues surrounding privileges will always emerge in the American society. This means that some individuals will have advantages while others will have disadvantages. Individuals should enjoy their privileges but avoid putting others at a disadvantage.
Barlas, C., Kasl, E., MacLeod, A., Paxton, D., Rossenwasser, Penny, and Sartor, LindaPenny. (2012). Communicating about Race and White Privilege with Critical Humility . White on White 2(1) , 1-19.
McIntosh, P. (1988). Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. White Privilege 49(2) , 1-5.
Schaefer, R. (2011). Racial and Ethnic Groups (13th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson.