Posted in Reader's Responses

White and Male Privilege

After reading McIntosh’s piece on privilege and listening to her talk on the subject, I can say that I agree with her on just about everything she addressed. I absolutely believe that privilege is integrated deeply into our society and that we are raised to think that some people are naturally superior to others based on things like race, gender, sexuality, etc. Although I was raised in a very liberal household and consider myself a liberal person, even I noticed these differences from a young age. I’ve always considered myself a feminist, and even when I was six years old, I can remember asking my dad why none of the holidays were about women. This was a question that couldn’t answer, especially not an answer that would have satisfied a six-year-old. From that point forward, I had to learn to wrap my head around the concept of male privilege.
In terms of racial privilege, I can plainly see how I benefit from it. From second to fifth grade, I lived in an extremely conservative and vastly white town called Tyler, Texas. In my entire four years there, I had only one nonwhite person ever in my grade, and he left after one year. Looking back, I remember how wary some of the third graders were of him, though we had no concept of racial privilege yet. It had simply been taught subconsciously to some of my classmates by what they had heard said by their parents and most of the other adults in their lives. In fact, I would say that very few of the people who benefit from and perpetuate privilege actively think about it, but simply don’t notice that it needs to change because it is working in their favor.As long as privilege is fought only by those it harms, the fight will be written off as an excuse for laziness by those who benefit, which is why the conversation needs to span across all socioeconomic groups, not just those who fall below McIntosh’s “line of justice.”

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