White Privilege In America Essay

700 words - 3 pages

What is privilege? What does it mean? Is privilege inherited or is it earned? As an American resident of color I’ve learned that privilege in this country is something that is innate and inherited. The privilege that I speak of is that of White privilege.

There are two prominent writer/scholars who have taken the issue of white privilege to heart and have shared their expert analysis on the subject; these authors/writer-scholars are Peggy McIntosh, a white feminist, and Beverly Tatum, an African American Psychologist. McIntosh, in her article "Coming to See Correspondences," makes excellent observations about the privilege that she has experienced just by being a white female in America. The two most significant points made by McIntosh in this article are as follows. One, “A white skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us…the silence and denials surrounding privilege are the key political tools here” (P. 104). The second and even more important point is that “the obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all…props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already” (105).

Both points serve McIntosh’s objective of making clear that the notion of white privilege is not a myth. Due to the socially constructed and arbitrary nature of ideologies concerning race (a biological, phenotypic/ (physical) expression of human features) the highly immoral and nonsensical practice [whether recognized or not] of white supremacy automatically puts some individuals in more advantageous political, social and economic positions than others. The concept of white privilege helps to highlight the hypocritical nature of the American ideologies of democracy and meritocracy. Ask yourself: Do we live truly in a democratic system if the voices of our nation’s disenfranchised people are not heard? Or are we truly a nation that functions on a meritocratic system if every person-- regardless of socioeconomic background or race-- is not...

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