White Privilege Understanding and Acknowledging Thesis

Excerpt from Thesis :

One of Peggy McIntosh's most profound observations is that the white privileged class, though it can choose to engage with, learn from, and attempt to understand developments in minority writing, music, arts, and culture, it is essentially insulated from any of the possible negative reflections of these developments (McIntosh). That is, though I might personally enjoy listening to rap music, I do not need to worry about what the music says regarding my culture's views on women or violence, whereas an African-American who might detest rap purely on the basis of its sound as well as its messages will nevertheless be identified with the more negative connotations of misogyny and violent tempers that have become inherent to most rap music. McIntosh's logic can be taken to even more insidious and harmful conclusions, as well.

I attended a private Catholic school in New Jersey that was very expensive -- as pricey as many colleges -- and had very few minority students. Five to be exact. These students were bussed to the private school from the inner city in order to provide them with educational opportunities that matched their abilities, and that they would not have been able to have access to in their own schools and living situations. My attendance at the school was not merely evidence of my white privilege, but also my economic privilege (or more correctly, my parents' economic privilege). By the same token, the presence of the minority students was not actually an indicator of equality or of an evening-out of the privileges and biases that exist in this country, but ironically served as a reminder of the severe gap that existed between their level of privilege and that of the average -- i.e. white and rich -- student at the school.

Nothing was done at the school with the intention of classifying the minority students as a group of others, but nothing had to be done to make them feel that way. First, the fact there were only five students in the entire school whose skin tone was different than everyone else's made the distinction visually clear, whether it mattered on a deeper level or not. Then, there was the knowledge of the circumstances that brought these students to this particular school -- they were marked out as intelligent, which is not necessarily a negative thing but is still a differentiator, and they were also known to be severely underprivileged both in terms of their financial situation at home and the opportunities available to them in their communities. Not only did the general population of white and (over-) privileged students know these things about the minority students automatically, but the minority students were undoubtedly even more sharply aware of these differences, and thus took sharper notice of their relative disadvantages.

Even in trying to bridge the privilege gap that exists between people of different ethnicities and colors in America, then, the immediate result is simply a greater clarity of the existent divide. This is the problem with such imbalances; once they exist, they are incredibly difficult -- perhaps even impossible -- to truly eradicate. Obama's election as the nation's first African-American President is itself evidence of this, as it only serves to highlight the lack of African-American government officials in our history and even serving in office today. The fact that his election is an achievement that needed to happen does not signal an end to the white privilege in this country, but merely shows that it is possible to succeed despite the disadvantages. There's still no level playing field, though.

Cite This Thesis:

"White Privilege Understanding And Acknowledging" (2009, September 27) Retrieved April 19, 2019, from

"White Privilege Understanding And Acknowledging" 27 September 2009. Web.19 April. 2019. <

"White Privilege Understanding And Acknowledging", 27 September 2009, Accessed.19 April. 2019,