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White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

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sarah richardson

on 5 October 2012

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Transcript of White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

White Privilege Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack What is "White Privilege" What is the author trying to say? How do white people have an "undeserving superiority"? What do "we" have in our daily lives that gives "us" such an advantage? Another way of looking at it... "...Whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work which will allow "them" to be more like "us". The Author Suggests... An invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, tools, visas, clothes and blank cheques held by people of Caucasian race. White people, as the majority race (in the USA) are born into an undeserving superiority over other cultures. "We" choose to ignore this because if "we" did not ignore it "we" would have to give up our rights and privileges in order to be a truly equal society... this would not be advantageous to the "white society", which currently holds the power. It is undeserving because we are born into it, rather than it being earned. The author is saying that by not acknowledging the white race's advantage, they are equally contributing to the disadvantages of other cultures. Page 44 "I can turn on the tv or open the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented".
I can be sure that my children will be given materials that testify to the existence of their race.
I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization" I am shown that people of my colour made it what it is. "As a white person I realized I had been taught about racism as something which puts others at a disadvantage, but had not been taught to see... white privilege , which puts me at an advantage." Using the theory of the "White Privilege", there is actually no such thing as a free country; she suggests that many doors are actually only open for certain people, despite the claim that they're open to all. Are "White People" the Only Ones Who are Privileged? No. The author suggests that being male is another dominating privilege - and even though men do agree that women are underprivileged, some fail to recognize that men are over privileged.
Heterosexual people are also far more accepted and privileged in our world than homosexual people. Other factors that can Determine Privilege or Lack of Privilege Social Class
Economic Class
Religion
Sex
Ethnic Identity "We" need to redesign the social system to first acknowledge the problem.
The silences and denials, she says, are key to 'White Privilege'
Her observations are that most talk by 'whites' about equal opportunity are done to get into a position of dominance while at the same time denying that systems of dominance exist. What Does the Author Suggest be Done to End 'White Privilege'? My Opinion of this Article I absolutely agree with the author regarding her points that we do not live in an entirely equal society. I believe that the heterosexual, white male is far more advantaged than a female person from a minority race.
However, this article is heavily rooted in the United States, and by nature, I feel the USA is more of an extremest and melting pot society than Canada. In an ideal world if we were to relate this to Canada. I feel that because our Canadian "culture" is based around multiculturalism, there is more effort to minimize "white privilege" and more effort to equalize the rights of all cultures. "It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, and the myth that democratic choice is available to all." Due to the fact that a person from the majority Caucasian background will never know what it is like to be a person from a minority culture, and a person from a minority will never know what it is like to be "white", there will always be opposing beliefs regarding the "white privilege" and where Canada currently stands on equality. Walk in Someone Else's Shoes... As a white female teacher I want to be conscious of the various cultural and racial backgrounds of my students. I want to be sensitive to the fact that as a person of Caucasian race, I will never know what it is like to be a minority within North America, and I will always need to be mindful of the experiences of students in my class.
I believe that is is unfortunately common for people to make assumptions of others based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. but as a teacher it is our job minimize or absolve those stigmas and treat every child with a blank slate who is in your class to learn.
Whatever one's belief on "white privilege" is, when we step into the classroom we should be creating an environment that is filled with safety and equality for every child. How Does the "White Privilege" Relate to our Schools
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