Monday, August 16, 2010

White Privilege & White Guilt

An excellent must-read post about Peggy McIntosh's article about white privilege (I posted about it here),and the reaction to that article from adoptive parents on this forum (which is what motivated my MUCH less useful Move Along, Nothing to See Here post), from the wonderfully named blog I Will Pull This Blog Over:

One of the major response from adoptive parents who do not accept the idea of white privilege is the idea that they have no reason to feel guilty about having white privilege because there are reasons that others don’t have privilege. However, guilt has no place here and guilt is counterproductive. There is nothing to feel guilty about. You are not responsible for white privilege. You didn’t ask for white privilege and you did nothing to deserve it or achieve it except have the fortune of being born with white skin. You did not create the conditions that result in white privilege. And even if you did feel guilty, you can’t get rid of your white privilege. You benefit from it- accept it. But at the same time also accept that other people do not have that luxury. Spending all your energy protesting how you aren’t going to feel guilty is an easy way to avoid looking at the real problem.

White privilege is also about the racism of institutions and socialization far more than it is about the racism of individuals. When someone talks about white privilege, they are NOT calling all white people racists. They are talking about the results of years of socialization, most of which is unconscious and unacknowledged. They are talking about the end result of a GROUP of people who have historically held power over another group-maintaining that power through an intricate web of economics, education, policies, practices and in some cases brute force. Beliefs and practices that we all internalize because we are socialized from birth to believe these things all without ever even realizing that it is happening. Practices that have instilled the dominant culture (in this case white) as the norm and everything else as “other.”

That is what white privilege is all about, plain and simple- it’s not about calling a person racist, it’s not about people feeling guilty. It’s about one group being the norm and the resulting benefits that result from that fact.
Go read the whole thing!


Wendy said...

Thank you for sharing this on FB as well, I think it is important for all people to read, not just AP's.

Von said...

It's also about making sure you don't perpetuate racism or support institutions and organisations that do.

travelmom and more said...

Thanks for the link, I am going to use this with my students. Teaching white privilege to suburban kids is very difficult even though they live in a racially and economically diverse community. I think this point of view might work well with my imperialism unit.