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White Privilege

  • I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which 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.

    • Peggy McIntosh,
    • "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), in Bart Schneider, ed., Race: An Anthology in the First Person ()
  • As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.

    • Peggy McIntosh,
    • "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), in Bart Schneider, ed., Race: An Anthology in the First Person ()
  • For me, white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one's life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.

    • Peggy McIntosh,
    • "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), in Bart Schneider, ed., Race: An Anthology in the First Person ()
  • Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.

    • Peggy McIntosh,
    • "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), in Bart Schneider, ed., Race: An Anthology in the First Person ()
  • ... as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and aliented. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit in turn upon people of color. For this reason, the word 'privilege' now seems to me misleading. We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work to systematically overempower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one's race or sex.

    • Peggy McIntosh,
    • "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), in Bart Schneider, ed., Race: An Anthology in the First Person ()
  • ... one question for me and others like me is whether ... we will get truly distressed, even outraged, about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance and, if so, what we will do to lessen them.

    • Peggy McIntosh,
    • "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), in Bart Schneider, ed., Race: An Anthology in the First Person ()
  • It seems to me that 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. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.

    • Peggy McIntosh,
    • "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" (1988), in Bart Schneider, ed., Race: An Anthology in the First Person ()
  • There is no birthright in the white skin that it shall say that wherever it goes, to any nation, amongst any people, there the people of the country shall give way before it, and those to whom the land belongs shall bow down and become its servants.

  • The melting pot's recipe may utilize a host of different ingredients, but they are subjected to a homogenization process whose purpose is to produce that 'All-American' product. And that product is certainly not dark-skinned, does not speak American Sign Language or with an 'ethnic accent,' is not poor, is certainly not lesbian or gay, and is not old.

    • Paula Ross,
    • "Women, Oppression, Privilege, and Competition," in Valerie Miner and Helen E. Longino, eds., Competition ()
  • In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.

  • ... most of the time when 'universal' is used, it is just a euphemism for 'white': white themes, white significance, white culture.

    • Merle Woo,
    • "Letter to Ma," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • I know now that once I longed to be white.

    • Nellie Wong,
    • "When I Was Growing Up," in Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa, eds., This Bridge Called My Back ()
  • We live surrounded by white images, and white in this world is synonymous with the good, light, beauty, success, so that, despite ourselves sometimes, we run after that whiteness and deny our darkness, which has been made into the symbol of all that is evil and inferior.

  • All whites derive tangible benefits from racism, but such benefits vary by class and sex so that upper-class males benefit more from racism than do lower-class people of both sexes and upper-class women. Racism, by splitting people from one another, helps to prevent alliances of lower-class people which might effectively challenge the system. Racism gives the illusion of superiority to lower-class whites, which convinces them to support the dominant elites, often against their true economic interests.