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:

For more on white privilege, see our posts on Colin Powell being called a traitor, Sotomayor’s Supreme Court hearings, the privilege to shoplift, and “flesh” and “nude” colors.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, with Myra Marx Ferree. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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