In 1989 Peggy McIntosh published an essay that is assigned in nearly every Sociology of Race and Ethnicity course in America. Titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, the essay included a list of things that white people, but not others in a white-dominated society, can count on. Here are a few:
I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
I thought of Peggy McIntosh when I saw this personal confession at PostSecret:Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.