27 January 2017
Identifying as “White” in the Trump Age
Jose Antonio Vargas states, “Until we unpack ‘whiteness’ as a social construct…we cannot have a real, more honest conversation about race and racism…In this era of #BlackLivesMatter, at a time when Latinos are the largest minority group and Asians are the fastest growing racial and immigrant group, exploring and questioning ‘white privilege’ is essential” (qtd. in Craven). Having a discussion about what “whiteness” means today and how it came about is so important because in the past, other races have had their worth based off of what “whiteness” was worth. This topic has been avoided because it questions the majority in power and it brings out the …show more content…
It means being and living and experiencing the world as an individual and not having to think about your race” (Painter). I played on the playground with kids of all color and assumed we were all equal. As I grew older, I noticed more examples of oppression that people of color had to face. In my middle school, more “colored” kids got accused of acting out and more had to get free and reduced lunch than white kids. In my high school, there were less “colored” students in my advanced classes and more white kids were considered the “popular” kids. I learned in my history classes throughout all my life about the terrible examples of slavery, segregation, and the Holocaust, all perpetrated by white people. The more I saw examples of white supremacy in real life and what I read in history books, the more I became ashamed to be called “white.” As a white person, I do not experience oppression with that part of my identity. I just experience assumptions and stereotypes based off other parts of my identity, like for being blonde and being assumed to be stupid, or for being a woman and others assuming me to be weak. None of those assumptions and the treatment that comes with it is as comparable to what colored people face and have had to face. I cannot truly relate to what people of color go through and that is the problem with the greater part of society today. In America, the majority of power lies with white people and since they don’t know
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When I think about white privilege, I see it as something I must understand to truly feel a relation to my own privileges with race. “As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.” (McIntosh 1988) When comparing other privileges McIntosh sees that her life is more influenced by her skin color than class, religion, ethnic status, or geographical location. Tim Wise explains “even though there is more than one type of privilege, they can never fully eradicate white privilege.” “Understanding the persistence of privilege requires recognizing the sleight of mind that occurs on the subject of individuals as members of groups” (Wildman 2005). Early work done by African American sociologist W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963) showed that studies with white workers over time came to see themselves as white unlike the developing working class with recently freed black slaves. DuBois was one of the first people to initiate the concept of white privilege.
When asked about white privilege, many whites believe that it is a myth while other deny the existence of white privilege entirely. However, white privilege is not a myth. White privilege is very prevalent in society and uniquely effects many different groups. Peggy McIntosh discusses white privilege in her article “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” McIntosh states, “I have come to see while 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” (par. 3).
Prior to beginning my readings on white racial identity, I did not pay much attention to my white race. If someone had asked me to describe my appearance I would have said short blond hair, blue eyes, average stature, etc. One of the last things I would have noted was the color of my skin. Growing up in overwhelmingly white communities, I never thought to use the color of my skin to differentiate myself from others. Over the course of this dialogue I have learned that my white racial identity is one of the most defining aspects of my appearance in this society. There is a certain level of privilege that I am afforded based solely on the color of my skin. According to Peggy McIntosh, “White privilege is like an invisible weightless
In “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Peggy McIntosh argues that racism can be found imbedded into the culture of society; conferring and denying certain privileges on some rather than all. This is a dangerous cultivation; endowing a strong expectation that white privileges are naturally deserving. Furthermore, making the cornerstone of McIntosh’s main argument; that white privilege is just a less aggressive synonym for dominance. When you receive privileges for looking a certain type of way, the recipient becomes immune; often not being able to acknowledge their advantages. As a result, this creates a cultural divide, between racial groups.
Peddy McIntosh highlighted various unearned white privileges in her autobiographical article “White Privilege, Color and Crime: A Personal Account.” She illustrated the white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that one white person could count on cashing in each day. White people have these privileges given to them by the society in which they live in. The same society taught them to be ignorant and unawareness of these privileges. This system of unearned privileges established by white individuals made people of color feel oppressed. In this system being white is a norm and dominant power. Caucasians, who benefit most from the white privilege system in the United States, are more likely to
Moreover, to be white in the United States means that the lighter your skin, the more power, prestige, and property you have; which then results to the higher your social class is. To be white in the United States means you have easier access to the “American Dream.” The “American Dream” in which you are able to socially mobilize yourself to higher positions. According to sociologists, social mobility is the extent of which an individual can move in the class system. When you are white, you are oblivious to the systematic oppression of those beneath you. The education system, criminal justice system, and the government system are all in your favor. This white supremacy flows through our society. A few examples include the income gap between Blacks and Whites. People of color are paid less for the same efforts and level of labor compared to someone who is white. Some structural-functional sociologists believe this occurs in order to motivate those beneath the poverty line or in the working class will push forward and continue to extend efforts in order to possibly climb the social ladder. Others disagree and believe this income gap is the outcome of dominance and straining relationships due to scarce resources. Those who disagree are sociologists abiding by the conflict theory perspective. Of course, my definition and opinion on white
White privilege is an advantage in society that is unmerited. Though it is practiced in every day life (whether it’s subtle or not), the majority views it as “absurd” and “non-existent”. It is a taboo that creates feelings of guilt, hostility and anger, but it must be addressed and understood in order to be eradicated. It is necessary for white people to acknowledge their part in maintaining and benefiting from a society that has thrived on racial hierarchy and white supremacy for centuries. White privilege is essentially the flip side of racism; racism does not only disadvantage people of colour, but grants white people power and dominance in our so-called “post-racial” society (McKintosh, 1). In this essay, I will argue that positive and widespread representation and implied acceptance are the most important features of white privilege. Widespread representation is the most important feature of white privilege because we live in an age where the media not only reflects, but also controls our real worldviews and attitudes. The second most important feature of white privilege is adequate housing opportunities and implied acceptance and respect. It is necessary to eliminate this system that puts people in power based on their skin tone and these two aspects are crucial in order to reach that.
Today, the U.S. is considered a “post-racial” society, and many believe that in this day and age, equality is much more prevalent among races. However, the word “many” is mostly referring to the white population in the U.S.. Majority of white people often refuse to believe that they have more privileges, or benefits, compared to people of color. Throughout history, and even in todays society, white privilege has been an issue that many people of color have discussed. For example, research shows that white people are much less likely to be arrested and jailed compared to black people, even though blacks only make up 30% of the population, they make up 60% of the prison population. White privilege and the advantages received through colorism is very much evident even now in current times.
At its core, white privilege is described to be an “invisible package of unearned assets” (McIntosh, 2002, p. 33) for white people. There are many layers explaining the manifestation of white privilege and even more explanations pertaining to its dominant presence in today’s world.
I am third-generation Puerto Rican American. Although some do not see me as black, my race is black, my ethnicity is Puerto Rican, and my nationality is American. I grew in a city where 39.3 percent of the population is Hispanic. Growing up in urban city where a large percentage of the population is Hispanic shaped who I am, what I have learned, and the struggles I overcame.
“White privilege refers to the fact that in many societies, “white” people have access to greater power, authority, and privileges, than non-white people” (Robbins et al. 2013:81). It goes beyond letting white people get away with more than other races; it also discriminates against them. This is well illustrated by the history of white privilege in America and how it changed over time (Nkomo & Ariss 2013) and how white privilege is used to benefit white people (Blum n.d). Without white privilege, people would be equal and perhaps live in a more peaceful society. Therefore, if white privilege has been around for years and continues to be an issue in America and all around the world, than without educating the population and making them aware of the issue it will continue to happen.
The article “The Great White Way” by Debra J. Dickerson attempts to show her readers that “Race is an arbitrary system for establishing hierarchy and privilege” (68) in America. In her article, Dickerson questions how “whiteness” leads America in our culture and society and how all the other races are defined in America. She also explains how history has divided whites from non-whites in America. The intended audience that Dickerson’s essay gravitated towards are political or liberal Americans. In her article “The Great White Way”. Debra J. Dickerson powerfully argues that race is an overall way to establish social classes and who and what get special privileges because of their certain race or skin color. Dickerson argues that “Race is
As a result of this individualistic ideology and confirmed by media, whites enjoy the comfort of not dealing with the “social burden of race.” Until whites can face the reality and openly discuss the imbalance between opportunities that whites and black have in American society, the injustice of segregated privileges will continue without any prevail.
David R. Roediger displays the history of how the theory of “whiteness” has evolved throughout the years in America in his book, The Wages of Whiteness. According to Roediger, “whiteness” is much a constructed identity as “blackness” or any other. He argues that this idea of “whiteness” has absolutely nothing to do with the advantage of the economy, but that it is a psychological racial stereotype that was created by white men themselves. He claims that it is definitely true that racism should be set in class and economic contexts, also stating that “this book will argue that working class formation and the systematic development of a sense of whiteness, went hand in hand for the U.S white working class.” Roediger basically lays out the fact that “working class ‘whiteness’ and “white supremacy” are ideological and psychological creations of the white working class itself.
In this paper, I will be reviewing Robert Jensen’s “The Heart of Whiteness. Confronting Race, Racism, and White privilege”, along with developing a critical analysis of this work. I will be comparing my analysis with the opinions of others that have reviewed this book along with utilizing concepts from James W. Neulieps textbook, Intercultural Communication.