An absolute must read on Race and Privilege

Yesterday I mentioned thinking about my own privilege.  Once of the most often referenced, and in my opinion, accessible articles on what privilege is was written in 1988 by a woman named Peggy McIntosh.  I am linking to a place online where you can read the article and really hope that everyone will take the time to do so.  It is short. It is entertaining. And, if you let it be, it is thought provoking.  It is also, HERE.

Peggy writes:

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it like to have white privilege.  I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visa, clothes, tools and blank checks.

She goes on to enumerate her invisible privileges, including the following:

5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

12. I can swear, or dress in secondhand closes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.

26. I can choose blemish cover or bandaged in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

Now, please stop reading my blog and do read her piece.  Again, you can find it HERE.


  1. agreed. i cant really figure out how to read it.

    im intrigued though. i am very conscious of number 12 (i suppose you could say i take advantage of it, though it sounds ugly). i like some raggy looking clothing and i dont always wear perfectly clean clothes…but i dont think people ever judge its because i couldn’t afford otherwise (they do probably guess im laid back or lazy). other people doing the same might be judged by those things in a completely different way…

    let us know about the link! or lessons in internet 101 where to click ahha

  2. The second link worked! But thanks for sending it via email as well. Really interesting. I’d like to think that we’ve made progress since 1988, but unfortunately most of the things she writes still ring true to me.

  3. I think I read this before in an ethnic studies class. It is interesting because we are trained to try and ignore these issues. Living in Chile has actually helped me see that they do still exist and are very much a problem that we all face.

  4. Interesting! I think about this a lot and even touched on it in my dissertation. I am also very conscious of the privilege that comes with my “imperialist” status–being from the US and all of the ease that it allows internationally. I think I have always suffered a little from “white gringa’s guilt”.

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