The term White privilege was made famous and coined by Peggy McIntosh (1988) in her essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" White privilege refers to the collection of benefits that White people receive in societies where they top the racial hierarchy. The concept includes everything from Whiteness being equated with being "normal" to Whites having more representation in the media. White privilege leads to White people being viewed as more honest and trustworthy than other groups, whether or not they have earned that trust. This form of privilege also means that White people can easily find products suitable for the such as cosmetics, band-aids, hosiery etc for their skin tone
Defining white privilege
Essentially white privilege is where society treats people differently based solely on the colour of their skin. White privilege therefore is an advantage that protects white people against any form of discrimination related to their ethnicity and race, so there is an absence of racism in their lives. This does not mean that white people don’t experience disadvantage, but rather the disadvantage is not due to the colour of their skin.
- Being white means that society ascribes positive attributes to a person simply because of the colour of their skin
- Conversely, society ascribes negative attributes to people that are not white
- White privilege is a concept that highlights the unfair societal advantages that white people have over non-white people
Some practical steps to address white privilege are:
- Be Conscious!
- Stick to the facts
- Don’t let the past influence how you think and act now
- No two experiences are the same
- Trust your instincts but question them
- Stop letting thoughts and feelings based on past experiences impact the judgements and decisions of our present
- Learn more about other cultures, religions and races to expand our understanding
- Try to engage with people that we don’t normally have the opportunity to meet in our day-to-day lives to learn more about them