The Invisible Knapsack

We need a new word for what the phrase “white privilege” describes; privilege suggests money and class exclusively. Until then, here’s one of the best definitions around.

White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks. … As far as I can see, my African American co-workers, friends and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions:

  • I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
  • I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
  • When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
  • Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of my financial reliability.
  • I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
  • I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.

Via: Maggie Koerth-Baker at BoingBoing
From: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh

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