Institutionalized White Privilege

What I find most interesting about the concept of Whiteness is that it’s not necessarily about race. White is a part of an individual’s identity…Whiteness is about the power hierarchy of privilege and superiority. While these articles brought these concepts to my attention, they also made me reflect critically upon my upbringing. It’s not about the fact that I am a white female that makes me superior to anyone. It is the privilege I receive from being a white female that has allowed me to have a comfortable life. Something that I picked up from the “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” article is that there are aspects of life that allow whiteness to prevail in society. For example, in that article, Author Peggy McIntosh states how something as simple as buying a bandaid that matches the color of white skin is something no one reflects critically on from day to day, but it is simply something we see as a way of life. Yet, this is one example of whiteness reflected in society. It allows those who are white to be supreme to others and position themselves in power. Yes bandaid colors do not represent power, but this is one example of many in our culture in which those who are white are given privilege. Although that might seem like a silly example, it is far from silly that many do not understand this concept.

Exposure to this theory is something that many of my peers will never understand. Yet, exposure and understanding is the first step to solving this problem. Once it is recognized, we can take steps to advocate against the institutionalized behaviors that allow some to rise up, and others to be oppressed. Whiteness is not about racial identity as much as it is simply about behaviors and using behaviors to establish equality. Bringing these “invisible privileges” to the attention of those who may not understand it, allows for the critical reflection of our own behaviors. From there, it is important to teach those how to, “balance their own relationship with or investment with Whiteness — that is, they must not obsess about their own actions, ending up with a worldview that starts and ends with them while keeping their own implication in the perpetuation of racism in play.” This quote came directly from the article titled, “I am also in the position to use my whiteness to help them out”: The Communication of Whiteness in Service Learning. While it is important for us to critically reflect on our own behaviors, it cannot about how our privilege is beneficial or harmful to others. But how can we change our own behaviors in relation to Whiteness?

That is a question I hope to discover in my own reflection of this journey.



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