White privilege affects all our lives. If we are of European descent, we benefit from advantages from very large to very small and everything in between. Our hope is that this section will help white people examine the racial barriers that separate us and increase the potential of creating deep, honest and meaningful relationships. Beyond guilt, shame, blame, denial, and resistance, we examine how to take responsibility for challenging specific forms of white privilege that are built around issues of decision making processes, unmasking hidden issues of hierarchy and self-identity. We also examine ways in which white privilege has been woven seamlessly into our personal and community lives so that what some would identify as privilege, others would say is just the way things are.
That said, it is important to acknowledge that there is a wide range of opinion among people of color about the usefulness of working on white privilege. In order to do this work effectively we recommend that you read and deeply consider the other sections of the Healing Racism Toolkit where we examine some of the invisible wounds of oppression that are part of our inner landscape and relationships with each other and people of color and ultimately Creator.
“I, maybe more than most people, can completely understand why broke white folks get pissed when the word “privilege” is thrown around. …Recognizing privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder …”
This video was produced soon after President Barack Obama was elected. “The legacy of Jim Crow will not be over with the election of a man of color who is the best and the brightest. It will only end when average people of color have the same access, opportunities and privileges as average white person.
Thinking about privilege — the unearned benefits that we enjoy in society as a result of being White — may not seem crucial, but the potential payoff is the ability to make sense of our relationships …these ten observations should feed your growing awareness.
The seminal work, White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack By Peggy Mcintosh outlines “invisible systems” at work, as well as the main theme of an “invisible package of unearned assets”, examined in the form of a metaphorical knapsack.
Hello, my name is Rachel and I’m a racist. No, I’m not a member of the KKK rather I have come to admit that my attitudes around race are unmanageable in a just society. … At a very early age, I was very carefully taught and conditioned
Examples of White Privilege: I can walk through certain neighborhoods without being stopped or asked questions. I can walk through a neighborhood without another culture giving me trouble. The first thing people see in me is not the color of my skin.
Photo: Shako Lui
How do White folks look at White Privilege??
“All Animals Are Equal / But Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others.” from Animal Farm, by George Orwell.
As white people looking at the vast array of privileges, is there a part of us that is happy, that delights or basks in thinking we are special, that we deserve our preferential, comfortable position?
Is this okay with you? Is this the type of society that we can be proud of, that we want to live in? Is that the kind of people we want to continue to be?
At the stained clothes
At the old toys half broken
At the bits of unused spice
And the bruised fruit
Maybe to you they are nothing
just the debris of life
But there are those
For whom they are significant
Who don’t have spice or fruit
Who’s children have sticks for toys
And have no “nice” clothes
Look again at what you discard
See the value in each
Significance is determined by need
Not by privilege.
And if you say: The bits are suitable for the poor. We will explain that the value of an object is determined not by its context, but by its intrinsic value. Wasn’t it taught that there is a difference with regard to the ritual impurity between garments belonging to poor people, which can become ritually impure even if they are very small, and garments belonging to the wealthy, which are not considered significant unless they contain a larger amount of fabric? Apparently, the significance of an object is determined by its context and its owner.