White Privilege: An Inconvenient Truth

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack uses examples from one’s daily routine to highlight the simple privileges that white people take for granted. Overall, the root of white privilege is a systemic error. Race is a social construction: there is no guideline to what constitutes the make up of a particular race. Therefore, we are brought to these conclusions by society, and are continuously reinforced of these differences and prejudices. As mentioned in the article White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, it is because of the systemic errors that have supported white supremacy.

Common Racist Attitudes and Behaviours speaks to the defenses white people use to justify racist thought or actions. Sometimes, racist thought can be unintentional. Phrases such as, “I’m colorblind” ignores race and the social prejudices expressed towards different race. White people have different privileges that minority groups do not. To say that race does not matter, ignores social injustices faced by these groups. Racism is a combination of both prejudice and systemic power. Therefore, using this definition, white people are the only racial group capable of expressing racist behaviour. This is not to say that people of colour can engage in prejudice acts; however, it is important to recognize the difference between being hurt and being oppressed. To correct these systemic errors white people see themselves as “missionaries” and in need of “saving” the oppressed groups. Ultimately, the act might appear to be charitable, there are underlying motivations to maintain white control.

To say that racism has been overcome is denying the current social injustices and white privilege. Although acts have been taken to grant legal equality, racism is fundamentally a social construction and still exists: racism is far from being overcome. Although there are other forms of oppression that are evident in today’s society which are equally as “wrong,” such as sexism, classism, or heterosexism. These forms of oppression are ones that are largely felt by marginalized white groups, such as women, non-heterosexuals, or those of lower socioeconomic class. However, with the focus shifted away from racism, the longer it will take to resolve all forms of oppression.

This article is closely related to White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack in a sense that is comments on how by ignoring one’s acceptance of white privileges only results in greater oppression. There will be no progress if white people continue to overlook the basic advantages of being white. Moreover, making excuses to justify racist behaviour or not accepting one’s actions as racist does not free one from bring accountable for their hurtful behaviour. If not corrected or recognized, minority groups will continue to be oppressed. It is important to recognize that white people have different experiences from minority groups. Inherently, white people will never truly understand what it is like to be oppressed. Since society feeds the notion of white supremacy, it will remain the dominant” race. There is not one “incident” of racism; rather it is a form of oppression that is integrated into one’s daily activities

As a white, heterosexual woman of middle class, it is important to recognize these misconceptions and the privileges I have because of my race. Silence is one of the defenses used by white people in dealing with racism. This attitude is more hurtful than helpful. Remaining silent is an affirmation of racist behaviour. Instead, it is encouraged to not only speak out against all forms of oppression, but take action be accountable. 

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3 Responses to White Privilege: An Inconvenient Truth

  1. snicklefritz66 says:

    Firstly, I love the title of this post. An inconvenient truth is the perfect way to describe racism, and the silence that is often used to defeat it, only encourages it’s victory. I agree that silence is just as hurtful as taking a stance and speaking about the issue. Many people add to racism, although not purposely, by not addressing the issue or by being uneducated about the issues at large. Ignoring the problem only endorses it further.
    Great post!

  2. TA-Andria says:

    How can we share the concept of white privilege with those closest to us? How can we counter the silence surrounding race in a inclusive way?

    • pinkpanther2287 says:

      As with everything that we discuss in Genders, overcoming discrimination won’t happen by ignoring the problem or pretending it doesn’t exist. Instead, one must recognize their power and privileges, and using it to voice their opinions. This isn’t to say that a group of white people should create an exclusive group to “save oppressed groups.” In fact, this is the precisely what NOT to do: this gives the impression as white being a superior race. Instead, people in general need to recognize the power imbalances, and understand the different experiences of other groups and how it has shaped who they are.

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