White Privilege in America Essay

710 Words3 Pages
What is privilege? What does it mean? Is privilege inherited or is it earned? As an American resident of color I’ve learned that privilege in this country is something that is innate and inherited. The privilege that I speak of is that of White privilege. There are two prominent writer/scholars who have taken the issue of white privilege to heart and have shared their expert analysis on the subject; these authors/writer-scholars are Peggy McIntosh, a white feminist, and Beverly Tatum, an African American Psychologist. McIntosh, in her article "Coming to See Correspondences," makes excellent observations about the privilege that she has experienced just by being a white female in America. The two most significant points made by McIntosh…show more content…
The concept of white privilege helps to highlight the hypocritical nature of the American ideologies of democracy and meritocracy. Ask yourself: Do we live truly in a democratic system if the voices of our nation’s disenfranchised people are not heard? Or are we truly a nation that functions on a meritocratic system if every person-- regardless of socioeconomic background or race-- is not given the same opportunities for development? The concepts of white privilege and male privilege, as used by McIntosh, are meant to unveil the hidden schemes of American ideology. Beverly Tatum incorporates the concept of White privilege into her writing to address the fundamental issues surrounding racism. In "Defining Racism," a chapter in Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, Tatum defines racism as “a system of advantage based on race” (P.6) In an accurate and inoffensive way she illustrates racism and extends it beyond the individual, placing blame on the greater American social structure. Throughout the development of her definition she places great emphasis on the fact that racism, like sexism, is something exhibited by the dominant group (whites/men) upon the subordinate group (people of color/women). She does this to demonstrate the structured aspect of racism as an institutional norm and not necessarily something that is actively practiced by individuals. This approach is less offensive to whites and creates a context for self awareness
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