Addictions of Race, Privilege and Cultural Denial

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
By Peggy McIntosh

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks. – See more at blogsite

Author McIntosh’s candor and clarity of thought caught me somewhat by surprise. I have never read a fraction of the vast resources of literature and scholarly works on the subject of race. I have read enough to know that many Americans, including many white Americans like myself, are not only able to say with certainty racism is still with us, but exactly why, and how destructive it is for all of us in this great democracy of ours. My experience is largely anecdotal, but I have lots of it.

If you are or have ever been curious how crudely medieval views on race and culture have survived to the twenty-first century, a deadly virus in a modern world of both miracle antibiotics and people who choose not to take them, I think you will find Mcintosh’s full article a refreshingly clear read.

My own comments that I posted about the article:

I discerned most this in my teens, and almost all of the rest of it as a young adult, but this is the first time I have ever read a thorough analysis of it in print. The most spot-on analysis I’ve read in a long time, and quite profound in uncovering the unconscious buy-in without finger-pointing and blame storming. It is the subliminal ethos I didn’t quite grasp. I’m indebted to McIntosh for unwrapping that nasty little package deal. The author hit the nail on the head in that, while many whites do consciously exploit the race bias, the majority just act out those premises because they’ve been culturally conditioned to do so since birth, never having thought to challenge their own acquired myths and stereotypes. Like any other addiction, predispositions to bias can be overcome.

Discrimination of any sort is wrong, but we need to remember that one form of discrimination in no way nullifies or minimizes any other form of discrimination. In other words, as our moms would have said, “but they do it too” is never an answer. It may help us to also remember there is not now, and never has been, a systematized and enforced “black supremacy” in our country.

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