White-Skin Privilege Checklist

Brilliant.

Just Desserts

In 1989, Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director of the Wellesley College for Research on Women, penned the essay, White Privilege:  Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (Andersen & Collins, 2013, pp. 49-53).  She stated that her work in women’s studies led her to realize that although men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, and that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious.   This is when she considered how women of color stated that white women are oppressive, too.  This helped her to understand why white-skinned folks “are justly seen as oppressive, even when they don’t see themselves that way”.   She began to list the ways in which she enjoyed unearned white-skin privilege and had been “conditioned into oblivion about its existence”.

The following are the examples that Dr. McIntosh provided of the ways in which white-skinned folks like me have privilege simply because we have been born with white-skin.

1. I can…

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Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

Thought provoking and eye opening.

Whatever

I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with “privilege,” they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies.

So, the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?

Being a white guy who likes women, here’s how I would do it:

Dudes. Imagine life here in the US — or indeed, pretty much anywhere in the Western world — is a…

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