If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work systematically to over empower certain groups. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch. What is it like for you to sit here and talk about and hear about these experiences of unearned advantage and disadvantage?

Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely. Our website uses cookies to enhance your experience. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. These are indeed bad things – but I never claimed that life for men is all ice cream sundaes. McIntosh observes that whites in the U. In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated.

Few people will openly admit racist attitudes, but everyone with fair skin should at least admit that they have a privilege and consider relinquishing that privilege in the marketplace of ideas and money.

essay on white privilege unpacking the invisible knapsack

I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex – even though that might be true. McIntosh observes that whites in the U. As we know from watching men, it is an open question whether we will choose to use unearned advantage to weaken hidden systems of advantage, and whether we will use any of our arbitrarily awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base.

In addition, it is hard knapsaco disentangle aspects of unearned advantage which rest more privilegge social class, economic class, race, religion, sex, and ethnic identity than on other factors. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race. But a “white” skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us.


In unpacking this invisible knapsack of white privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience that I once took for granted.

essay on white privilege unpacking the invisible knapsack

For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. This is white privilege.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.

We form either small circles of people, or pairs, to respond, in privilrge, uninterrupted, for one minute each, to the following prompts: If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.

essay on white privilege unpacking the invisible knapsack

I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them. It is human nature to like being respected, being allowed the advantage and opportunities in life. These are just a few. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. Her main idea was to inform the readers that whites are taught to ignore the fact that they enjoy social privileges that people of color do not because we live in a society of white dominance.

No matter how one may try to analyze a situation, white people are privileged bottom line. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

For instance, the ideology that men are more interested in performing physically tough activities while women perform tasks like raising children, cooking, embroidery and so on. They may say they will work to women’s statues, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men’s.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Alexa Cronin on Prezi

I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. Write a Reply or Comment Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture.


If I have children and pursue a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.

Such images of men exist, but are much rarer. And so one question for me and others like me is whether we will be like them, or 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.

I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.

Some, like the expectation that neighbors will be decent to you, or that your race will not count against you in court, should be the norm in a just society. When a man or woman insists on taking what was traditionally the role of the other, it becomes news or subject for debate.

Anyone who wishes to reproduce more than 35 copies of this article must apply to the author, Dr. At present, since only a few have it, it is an unearned advantage for them. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

We usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck.