Student Assistant Recognizes Privilege

By Morgan Paul

I grew up in a white middle-class family. My father was in the carpenters union and my mother was a community director. It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I realized my privileges, and reading “White Privilege” by Peggy McIntosh helped me to recognize a few more that I’d like to discuss.

“7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race” (pg.79).

  • This is a harsh reality because the only time we talk about other races is a brief discussion on how we ran the Native-Americans out and then slavery. In the twelve years we spend in public school we never look at when happened before America was colonized or the history of those who we enslaved. We’re so concerned with “white” history that it seems like before us or without us nothing happened.

“15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group” (pg.80).

  • This is a privilege I haven’t thought much about. When I hear people ask things like “What do your people eat?” as if every Mexican eats the same meal, I can’t imagine someone asking me “What do white people eat?” Uhmm… food?

“17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider” (pg.80).

  • This is important because people often assume racism is only against African-Americans but seem to justify racism against other races. If someone of Middle-Eastern dissent has a complaint about our government, they’re a terrorist. If someone of Chinese dissent has a complaint about our government, they’re a communist. But if some “white” guy has a complaint, then woo-hoo where’s the press?
Not all "flesh" color is the same! Image from Creative Commons.

Not all “flesh” color is the same!
Image from Creative Commons.

“26. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in ‘flesh’ color and have them more or less match my skin” (pg.80).

  • This is possibly the most obvious item and yet one of the easiest to ignore. For those of us who always found the perfect match we’ve never had to think about our skin being the default “flesh” color. But those with dark skin aren’t given many options and are now being told to lighten their skin.

I’d love to go through and discuss all of the privileges but I’ve already typed too much! Feel free to share any privileges you’ve recognized and be looking for more through your daily life.