On Racism and White Privilege

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Explores issues of race and white privilege

Excerpted from White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap by Jennifer R. Holladay, M.S. (Crandall, Dostie & Douglass Books, Inc., 2000)

On Racism
Racism is a doctrine or teaching, without scientific support, that does three things. First, it claims to find racial differences in things like character and intelligence. Second, racism asserts the superiority of one race over another or others. Finally, it seeks to maintain that dominance through a complex system of beliefs, behaviors, use of language and policies. Racism ranges from the individual to the institutional level and reflects and enforces a pervasive view, in whitedominated U.S. culture that people of color are inferior to whites.

Racist beliefs include things like “White people are smarter than people of color,” or “White people make better teachers.” Racism can manifest itself in terms of individual behavior through hate crimes, or in institutional behavior through employment discrimination. Racism might manifest in individual language through the use of slurs, or in institutional policy through a school’s selection of Eurocentric textbooks.

Related to these relatively obvious manifestations of racism is a subtle system that also contributes to the maintenance of the racial status quo. That subtle system is white skin privilege.

On White Privilege
White skin privilege is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose. Unlike the more overt individual and institutional manifestations of racism described above, white skin privilege is a transparent preference for whiteness that saturates our society. White skin privilege serves several functions. First, it provides white people with “perks” that we do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, it creates real advantages for us. White people are immune to a lot of challenges. Finally, white privilege shapes the world in which we live — the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.

White Privilege: The Perks
White people receive all kinds of perks as a function of their skin privilege. Consider the following:
• When I cut my finger and go to my school or office’s first aid kit, the flesh-colored band-aid generally matches my skin tone.
• When I stay in a hotel, the complimentary shampoo generally works with the texture of my hair.
• When I run to the store to buy pantyhose at the last minute, the ‘nude’ color generally appears nude on my legs.
• When I buy hair care products in a grocery store or drug store, my shampoos and conditioners are in the aisle and section labeled ‘hair care’ and not in a separate section for ‘ethnic products.’
• I can purchase travel size bottles of my hair care products at most grocery or drug stores.

My father, who has worked in economic development for 30 years, would explain away these examples of white privilege as simple functions of supply and demand economics. White people still constitute the numerical majority in this country, so it makes sense, for example, that bandaid companies would manufacture “flesh-tone” bandages for white people.

Even if I concede to his argument (and ignore the “buying power” of communities of color), it still does not change the impact of these white privileges. As a white person, I get certain perks that people of color do not; I get the bandages and the pantyhose and the shampoo at the hotel that works with my hair. And in a new grocery store, I will not have to scan the aisles for my hair care products. They will be in the section called “hair care.” This is how I experience the world.

These seemingly benign perks also demonstrate a danger on closer examination. Let’s say that I forgot to pack my shampoo for a business trip. When I get to the hotel, I see that the complimentary shampoo is not the standard Suave product to which I am accustomed but rather Pink Oil Lotion for African American hair. I would be surprised and might even think to myself: “Those black folks and all their lobbying … This is so unfair!” I expect these perks. As a white person, I think I am entitled to them.

White Privilege: The Advantages
Certainly, white privilege is not limited to perks like band aids and hair care products. The second function of white skin privilege is that it creates significant advantages for white people. There are scores of things that I, as a white person, generally do not encounter, have to deal with or even recognize. For example:
• My skin color does not work against me in terms of how people perceive my financial responsibility, style of dress, public speaking skills, or job performance.
• People do not assume that I got where I am professionally because of my race (or because of affirmative action programs).
• Store security personnel or law enforcement officers do not harass me, pull me over or follow me because of my race.

All of these things are things that I never think about. And when the tables are turned and my white skin is used against me, I am greatly offended (and indignant). The police department in my community, like so many other law enforcement agencies throughout this country, uses policing tactics that target people of color. Two years ago, I was driving down Rosa Parks Boulevard, a street that runs through an all-black and impoverished area of town, at night. I was looking for a house that I had never been to before, so I was driving slowly, stopping and moving as I searched for numbers on residences.

Out of nowhere, this large police van pulled me over, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring, and a handful of well-armed police officers jumped out of the van and surrounded my car. I did as I was told, and got out of my car. (“Hands above your head; move slowly!”) I then succumbed to a quick physical pat-down, as well as a search of my car. The officers had pulled me over -- not only because of my erratic driving -- but also, because, in the words of one officer, I was “a white woman driving down Rosa Parks after dark.” They thought I was looking to buy drugs.

When I went to the office the next day, I relayed my story to several white colleagues. They shared my sense of violation, of anger, of rage. These co-workers encouraged me to call our legal department and report the incident. I later told the story to a colleague who is black and who lives on Rosa Parks. “You just never have to worry about those things, do you, Jennifer?” she asked and then walked off. In twelve words, she succinctly challenged my sense of privilege.

White Privilege: The World View
The third thing that white privilege does is shape the way in which we view the world and the way in which the world views us. The perks and advantages described above are part of this phenomenon, but not all of it. Consider the following:
• When I am told about our national heritage or “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
• Related, the schools that I attend or have attended use standard textbooks, which widely reflect people of my color and their contributions to the world.
• When I look at the national currency or see photographs of monuments on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., I see people of my race widely represented and celebrated.

As a white person, I see myself represented in all of these places. And, until a couple of years ago, I never questioned that representation — or why people of color were excluded. After all, people like me have done a lot for this country and for the world. If people of color had done their part, so the theory goes, they too would see themselves represented.

Well, people of color have done more than their share for this country. There is an old saying that the victors of war get to write the history of the world. White privilege works this way, too. Since white folks have been in control for so long, we have determined what is valuable or interesting or useful in terms of education. Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any “solid liberal arts education.”

I rarely have to question the validity of these selections — this is, after all, what is valuable and considered “the real stuff.” And I am entitled to a good education, aren’t I? I never question how or why some things are valued and others are not — why some things are important to “us” and other things are not. When people begin talking about diversifying a curriculum, one of the main things that opponents say is: “I am not willing to lower standards for the sake of minority representation.”

The Black Student Coalition at my college, for example, lobbied the faculty to diversify the readings for the Literature 101 class, a required course for first-year students. One professor objected, saying: “You want me to replace Chaucer with the likes of Alice Walker?” Why do we value Chaucer more than the literary offerings of Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, or Audre Lorde? Who assigns that value and on what basis?

Things are starting to change slowly. Perhaps your high school hosted programs during Black History Month or during Asian and Hispanic Heritage Months. Maybe your college offered courses in Black, Latino, Caribbean, Native American, Asian or ethnic studies. These are good places to start, but we should not need separate months or classes. Black history is U.S. history; Chicano literature is valuable literature.

White privilege is a hidden and transparent preference that is often difficult to address. Only on closer inspection do we see how it creates a sense of entitlement, generates perks and advantages for white people and elevates our status in the world.


What is the point?

Submitted by Anonymous on 29 October 2014 - 12:37am.

I agree that white privilege does exist. It's scary when a person of color is shot for simply doing nothing and a white person is sheltered from such a thing.
I'm an underprivileged white girl from a lower class neighborhood. Hardly lived around other white people until I was about 14. Every once in awhile growing up I would be corrected that I was white by brown and black people, and reminded that I was white trash by rich, white elitists.
My issues with this are small compared to people of color who are clearly in danger. They are constantly harassed and even killed.

What can we do to stop this?


Submitted by Anonymous on 11 November 2014 - 12:24pm.

Is it ok to throw around generalizations about "white" people and their alleged privileges? It is not. Racism itself is the problem. The same error in thinking applied to any race is the whole problem. Stop turning the flawed thinking on different races and change the thoughts themselves. Look at people for who they are, not their race. Enough racism.

The Myth of Racism

Submitted by Anonymous on 22 October 2014 - 7:46am.

Anthropology and medical science have an agreement in studying the one and only Human Race. Racism will continue to be expressed as long as there is an insistence on the myth of there being "white" and "colored" people on this planet.
I could see it if one of us had two noses or three eyes if not a type of blood that is only found in one group of Human Beings. But the fact that anthropologist continue to study the history of the Human Race and Doctors study the medical treatment of all Humans allows me to keep faith that sooner or later the basic fact of there only being one "race" of Humans on this planet will be openly discussed and accepted.
Individuals insisting on discussing the difference of people on the basis of the color of their skin should've been educated to know better by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the millions of American citizens of the 20th Century.
The recent reports by the news media on how "white people think about about being white"only shows how the news media are very slow learners!

Trying to figure this out

Submitted by Anonymous on 16 October 2014 - 2:04pm.

Mostly because of the John Stewart Bill O'Reilly thing from last night -- what is the difference between "white privilege" and "racism"?

Isn't saying something like

"white people don't fear being pulled over by police because they tend to not get shot when that happens"

the same as saying

"black people are discriminated against when they get pulled over and are more likely to be assumed up to no good? (i.e. racism) "

What I am really asking is instead of saying "white privilege is a thing exists" shouldn't we be saying "racism is a real problem and it still exists?"

About being pulled over

Submitted by Anonymous on 28 October 2014 - 9:07am.

Just a thought: Police sometime operate on statistics and what they have witnessed. So, what is the proportion of crimes being committed by white compared to black? I'm sure, by human instinct, they react on this. So, I think it is best to look at statistics and human experience. I believe we should look at the problem as a whole not just parts of it.

As far as "racism is a real problem and it still exists".............Racism will always exist in one form or another. I do believe we need to keep moving ahead in a positive way but we should not over emphasize what does not exist.

To become familiar with what I'm trying to say, go to: http://www.tolerance.org/article/racism-and-white-privilege

Lastly: We need to stop nik-picking and approach problems with grounded, thought-out, data supported answers. Not pie-in-the-sky, Utopian, illogical ideals.

Friend to Enemy

Submitted by Anonymous on 5 October 2014 - 5:54pm.

The concept of "White Privilege" has to be the most divisive concept in the fight for equal rights. It effectively changes us from a white allies to a common and ever present enemy.

It eliminates any chance of white redemption. Seeking to redeem oneself from the actions of our ancestors becomes impossible. Simply existing makes us complicit with the crimes as we are enjoying the spoils of race warfare.

"You don't understand the concept of white privilege," you might say. Your defensive reaction proves your racism.

All I can know or understand is what I see, read and experience. And I have only seen the concept of white privilege used to bully and dismiss white opinions, no matter how grounded in reason they are. I have seen white victims slandered ruthlessly by opportunistic racial vitriol. Issues that didn't involve race are suddenly hijacked and turned into "who has it worse" pissing contests.

Aggressive social justice warriors have told me to my face in front of a room of silent people that I am a spoiled, rich little white christian boy whose opinion means nothing because I have no idea what its like to be oppressed.

They judged me because I was white. They didn't realize I was a disabled, gay atheist who allied himself with black people and has actively participated in equal rights events.

But no, its "I don't like your opinion, so I'm going to throw it away using the concept of white privilege."

I could tell you about all the straight, christian, ableist privilege you have (if you are any of those). I could go further back and show how your religion completely destroyed my people, the Robogdii, their kingdom, and commit cultural and historical genocide, removing all sources of information, and burning any books that illuminate our origins as a people.

But I won't because I don't want to "other" you from my cause. I fear I would take away a possible supporter. So why do black people use white privilege to shake a stick at people who would defend them? It may be that it feels good to chew people out when you have a problem you cant solve on your own. But you can't win this without getting support. I know I can't protect gay people without yours.

Open Your Eyes

Submitted by Anonymous on 25 October 2014 - 12:47pm.

"Aggressive social justice warriors have told me to my face in front of a room of silent people that I am a spoiled, rich little white christian boy whose opinion means nothing because I have no idea what its like to be oppressed.

They judged me because I was white. They didn't realize I was a disabled, gay atheist who allied himself with black people and has actively participated in equal rights events."

Hello, that is white privilege right there. Without even knowing you, you were cast in the light of being spoiled, rich and free from the burden of understanding oppression. You didn't even realize it, and it only offended you because you are disabled, gay and atheist. Those don't come off as easily as skin color. That's what white privilege is. It doesn't make you an enemy, it's something you need to be able to see though. How much more effective could you be in the fight against racial discrimination if you could understand that. Also, I find it difficult to fathom that you truly fight for racial equality when you can make statements like, "So why do black people use white privilege to shake a stick at people who would defend them? It may be that it feels good to chew people out when you have a problem you cant solve on your own," a statement that undermines everything you do. Now it sounds like you feel you're doing black people a favor.

I'm sure black people could

Submitted by Anonymous on 18 October 2014 - 10:29am.

I'm sure black people could use many more white, disabled, gay atheists on their side.

Let me add some more examples:

Submitted by Anonymous on 30 September 2014 - 11:14am.

Let me add some more examples:

– When you search Google images "baby", you will find mostly white babies. If you want to find only black babies, you have to search "black baby". Google "mother" "grandma" and the same thing occurs. This is true for

– When I search for stock images of people, I never see tags like "white (race)" or "white babies". In addition, white people aren't tagged under "ethnicity", even though white people have an ethnicity.

– Your race is not seen as a "minority".

– Your race (and a few other races) is better depicted. Find a UNICEF poster depicting a WHITE child facing issues.

– Your occupation wont stereotype your entire race. People ask "why are most basketball players black?" but never ask "why are most golf players white?" No one would pay attention if cab drivers were white and not Indian.

– If you're a doctor, people assume your medical education is adequate. No one dismisses you because they assume medical education in other countries is inferior.

– You can dress how you please without being labeled a "gangsta".

Thank you for the other

Submitted by Anonymous on 21 October 2014 - 1:16pm.

Thank you for the other examples. I had never thought about the race of the people in images I search on google... I also tried "doctor" and "teacher."

"Privilege" is natural

Submitted by Anonymous on 20 September 2014 - 11:16pm.

Of course there is privilege. If you are a Han Chinese in China, you have "Han Chinese" privilege. In any country the dominant cultural/ethnic group always has privilege, otherwise it would not be dominant by definition.

If you somehow manage to bring white people down, someone else will take their place and will assert their privilege. Ultimately it is always one group versus another and the way these things always fall is along ethnic/racial/religious lines. It's not about who's smarter or better, it's about "your people" versus "the others".

"Privilege" is natural

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 6:47am.

What you are saying is all fine and dandy if you are not touting his idea of equality. One cannot have one's cake and eat it too. If their is true equality, there is no domination. Domination is usully perpetuated systematically, as this helps to maintain domination. You have absolutely no prove that if white people are 'brought down, someone else will take their place'. In a TRUE democracy, there will be diversity and a system that will not be based solely upon color.


Submitted by Anonymous on 2 November 2014 - 10:11am.

We (United States of America) are not a democracy at all. We're a federal republic. 'True democracy' has never existed, not even the greek inventors of 'democracy' had a democracy! Only free, land-owning males above the age of 18 could vote and even then it was only the first 6000 into the building! We have limits on who can and cannot vote, we have representatives, we have a president, we have senators, we have a constitution. All of those things are not depicting of a democracy, but of a republic. We then modify a few republican ideals and presto! A federal republic is born.
Seriously, read the federalist papers.


Submitted by Anonymous on 15 September 2014 - 11:45am.

I've read the article and all the comments, and am stunned by one thing: the degree to which people quickly take personally anything that is said about "race." If we're white, (some of us) vehemently try to deny that there is ANY DIFFERENCE between our experience and the experience of a black or brown person in this society. Or, we change the subject, make it all-about-us, and start giving examples of one or several times when WE were stopped by a cop...

This is denial. Why do we do it? Because we don't want to feel guilty. We don't want to feel uncomfortable. We are miffed at the thought that "we" are to blame for the suffering of others. Interestingly, this miffed reaction is also "privilege." Some of us think we are entitled to not feel uncomfortable. So, some of us--when we hear a black person relate how their nephew was shot by police--would prefer that this grieving person just shut up about it, just get over it. We might even advise them to consider what that nephew might have done to deserve being shot...because, if he deserved it, then we won't feel as uncomfortable. We might even start talking about some white person we know who got victimized in some way, because then we won't feel as uncomfortable.

Why are we uncomfortable? Because we think that we're being BLAMED for someone else's suffering or death. But in fact we're not. A crappy situation can exist without it being anyone's fault. We inherited a system of thinking and unthinking, and some benefit from it and some don't. The point is, we're not "to blame;" we are simply "responsible" if we CHOOSE to be. If we get off our narcissistic high horse and stop making it all-about-us, we might notice that we white people DON'T bear the brunt of police violence, stereotyping as drug users, stereotyping as thieves, stereotyping as uneducated, stereotyping as being in gangs, neglecting our children, "playing the race card."

Why does it matter that we KNOW that we are not subjected to these stereotypes? Simply because if a system of inequity is ever going to become equitable (where all are protected rather than all being reduced to NOT being protected), AWARENESS of inequity is essential.

Some here have said that racism is caused by TALKING about racism. They are saying that racism will go away if we stop talking about it, if we stop fueling this now non-existent, perhaps historic but now totally out of date thing that no longer exists or exerts any power at all.

Again, this might be "privilege" that is telling us that some people should just stop "complaining." If I, as a white person or a person of any other color (or gender), say that people need to stop talking about something, it means I think that My perceptions are the more correct ones, it means that I think I have nothing to learn, no questions to ask, that there is no such thing as a blind spot (for me, that is). It means I think I have the right to silence other people's experience, to say that their experience is just vapor, just something they conjured up by *talking about it. They are "crazy" and now they are "racist" too (even though racism doesn't exist...).

For me, the most important realization of privilege is that as a white person with white kids (and one of mixed heritage), I DON'T have to feel afraid while they are out in their car that they will be stopped by police just for being there. I don't have to tell my kids, each time they leave the house, "if a cop stops you for not using your turn signal, keep your hands visible! don't move! he might think you have a gun!" I don't have to tell them this because in our society, looking to be of European heritage is considered normal, respectable, non-criminal, etc. My kids can be out there and just look like 'young people having fun,' even if they are stopped in traffic for something like a missing tail light. Keaton Otis was shot right in my neighborhood (I was there, right after, and locked down in Walgreen's by police) some 28 times when he was stopped for having his tail light out, or not using his turn signal (I can't recall which minor thing it was). The cop said he "looked like a gang member." Therefore, the cop thought he was reaching for a gun when he moved his hands. I know that as a white person I can be confident that if MY tail light is out and I reach for my purse to pull out my ID and my insurance card, I won't be seen as "reaching for a gun." I won't "look like a gang member." Instead, I'll look like "Old-lady-in-a-Saab." That too is a stereotype, a set of assumptions based on appearance, but the point is: "old lady in a Saab" is not a demographic that is profiled / suspected / feared. THAT fact, that I am not subject to a dangerous reduction of protected status, is "privilege." The fact that police are on the look out for young black drivers instead of me even means that my minor traffic offenses and my missing tail light might not even be noticed. In other words, one aspect of "privilege" is that sometimes I am directly benefiting from the fact of someone else's negative stereotyping / targeting. And of course, I can be confident that I'm not likely to be shot and killed based on stereotypes.

Should I feel guilty that I am in a protected category? NO. Can I do anything to help change society so it's not open season on young black men? YES. Should I feel guilty if I don't do anything at all to help change society? NO, but I think I should feel like a fool if I spend any time denying that I AM protected, and denying that the young black men are not.

CNN recently showed the video of two white guys who were there when MIke Brown was shot by the police officer in Ferguson. Their real time account can be heard on the video, where they say EXACTLY what the black witnesses said earlier when asked by the media to give their accounts. CNN described this video as a "game changer."

OK, suddenly, because it is WHITE people sharing their witness account, the CNN audience can NOW take it seriously. ...As if black and brown people cannot possibly give an objective, honest account of what they saw.

This CNN example is the essence of "white privilege." We white people go through life with more credibility--the credibility floor is higher for us. Should I feel GUILTY about this? NO!!!! But if i deny it, I'm part of the problem. Because, the privileges I enjoy should be the birthright of every human. That's what I want. That's what I want to be reminded of each time someone shares their truth about the word "privilege."

Recently on Facebook two videos were circulated, one of a white, jay walking guy waving a rifle and talking crazy in the middle of the street. The cops on the scene wisely talked him down, called him "sir," said they didn't want anyone to get hurt. They spent some 45 minutes at this.

No one got hurt.

The contrasting video was of the young black man shot early in August in a Walmart store. He was talking on his phone to his girlfriend and leaning on a toy gun "like a cane." Within seconds of the arrival of the police, with no questions asked, he was shot and killed. When he heard them coming and turned to the officers aiming guns at him, his last words were, "It's not real!"

In the case of the crazy talking gun-toting white jaywalker, the police said he had a right to "open carry." The black guy, on the other hand, didn't even have the right to lean on a toy.

As a woman, I also know (from long experience) that I have to work much harder than my male equivalent in order to PROVE my skills and knowledge. My long time male work partner is automatically considered to be credible (we both are workplace trainers, and I trained him in many of the tools we both use). He is the normative ideal for workplace authoritativeness--white, educated, middle aged, male. I am: white, educated, middle aged, female. There is also another difference, I am MORE experienced in the work we do. Knowing all this, he and I have learned how to work together to make this process of proving-Trudy's-credibility more efficient.

Should my work partner, Tim, feel guilty about his *automatic* gender-based credibility while I have to *prove* mine? NO. But he takes responsibility to make every shared context work for both of us, and work for the people we work with. I like that. :)

Having said all this, I DO strongly agree with those who have posted about "white privilege," as a term that is very often used in dysfunctional ways. "Check your privilege" is in my view not only a useless piece of advice, it has an implicit blaming, personalizing tone to it, and it is a tactic for silencing(ANY "you" statement is!) There are far more sophisticated ways to raise the issue or create common cause around systemic issues of inequality. To use the gender example again, if white guys in a meeting are unconsciously using far more air time, talking over the women, and listening only / mostly to one another, I'm much better off planning in advance to have that meeting facilitated by a strong and capable person who knows how to draw everyone out equally. I think I am a fool if I think the better strategy is to say to those participants, "hey, check your privilege," or accuse them of "dominating." And, best of all, in the process of experiencing a facilitated meeting, both men and women learn how to manage a meeting in a way that draws everyone out and no one feels blamed. Blaming gets us nowhere(btw, the author of this piece did no blaming whatsoever).

We regular folk (the 99%) spend a lot of time engaging in what is called Horizontal Hostility. That's what I think is happening in so many of these replies to this article. The person commenting about class is quite correct. We (all genders, all races, all sub-groups who are not the 1%) DO fail to see the structure of power. We DO fail to see and then make common cause among those of us on the bottom rungs. We are so eager to turn on each other instead-- on the basis of little or no thought, little or no stepping back, little or no curiosity. We rarely try to build bridges, we rarely hear ourselves saying, "wow, tell me more. I have a different view than you seem to, but I'm interested in hearing how you got to your view..."

Wouldn't that be refreshing? These skills are Dialogue Skills, and rarely do we ever use them.

p.s. Why do these all post as "anonymous?" it makes us all look like we're hiding. My name is Trudy.

Thank you

Submitted by Anonymous on 15 October 2014 - 2:37pm.

Well said.



Submitted by Anonymous on 13 October 2014 - 8:42am.

Great response.

thank you

Submitted by Anonymous on 29 September 2014 - 11:58am.

thank you Trudy

Jennifer (black girl)

Mixed feelings; we need to raise the bar

Submitted by Anonymous on 30 August 2014 - 3:20pm.

I understand and appreciate the value of privilege as a concept. In the ideal, it allows us to shift the focus from individual prejudice to systemic issues. I liked how you broke down types of privilege into those caused by (my words) supply and demand, by widespread prejudices, assumptions, and discrimination (not all of it originating from whites), and by "we've always done it this way" attitudes. My mixed feelings about the term come from two factors.

First, I find that in common conversations or Facebook postings, the term privilege is used primarily to attack others(your post was not in this category). Privilege is most commonly framed as "White Privilege" - ignoring other forms of privilege and intersectionality, as though race relations were the dominant force in most people's lives. When I think about privilege in my life, class privilege has been more dominant than racial privilege in shaping my personal experience. I find that instead of being used to open people's eyes, the term is used to accuse and silence. To tell people that no matter how much they try, they will never understand. That they need to shut up. That the simple fact that they were born is harming people. That may not be the intent. But if we wish the concept of privilege to make a difference rather than shame and blame, it can never be directed at an individual.

Second, I have yet to see a post about privilege that has any follow-up action attached. Is there, in fact, anything I can do about my privileged status beyond being aware that others do not share it? I know there are actions that can be taken to change things. However, pieces written about privilege often seem to assume that nothing can be done. I know that is not true, but let's start looking beyond mere "awareness" as a goal.

I can use my privileged status as a middle-class, educated white person to benefit others. Requests that are dismissed when originating from people of color might be heard more clearly coming from someone else. Perhaps I can speak to my children's school about the need to cover the whole range of human history, rather than merely provide a "classical education". Or I can ask my police department what their policies are regarding racial profiling, and what steps they take to avoid excessive use of force. Perhaps there are audit measures that could be put in place to provide checks and balances and enhance trust. I could ask my company's HR department to train managers on actively recruiting people whose race or gender is underrepresented in a position. The tendency of managers to hire someone who looks like them has been widely studied. Perhaps there could be a lobbying campaign to persuade Hollywood to be less stereotypical in their treatment of practically everyone and to hire actors who better represent their viewing audience. Perhaps we can raise the bar from having "conversations" about race in which one or both parties are regularly told to stop whining / check your privilege to having genuine discussions about creating a better world.

Succinct and well stated

Submitted by Anonymous on 11 August 2014 - 9:06am.

It's a good overview of White privilege. So many times, people will use the phrases "lose your White privilege" or "White people abuse their privilege", as if all White are too blame for racism or the privileges of skin color in a racist society. As you stated, you can't help being White, but you can support equality and not be a racist. Denigrating or prejudging potential allies because they are White is not helpful.

Tex Shelters

Totally disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 7 July 2014 - 2:16am.

Frankly, the very term 'White Privilege' is racist. The truth of the matter is that when a single ethnic group dominates the cultural development of any country or region, the social, economic, and cultural structures of those nations will reflect the values of the dominant group.

Which is why 'Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any solid liberal arts education.' Because for American culture, and it's European counterpart, it was these works which shaped our society. Cultural works by individuals of other ethnic groups did not. Would you decry the Chinese for having their education system highlight the works of Chinese individuals? Would they have 'Chinese Privilege' because they didn't provide equal coverage of Korean or Japanese works?

We live in America. Like it or not, our country was founded by European Caucasians, and our history reflects that. Lamenting on how people of color are 'underrepresented' is silly, because they aren't. Their cultural contributions are recognized. Like every other child in the US education system, I learned about people like George Washington Carver, MLK, and Rosa Parks.

Totally Disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 1 October 2014 - 8:10pm.

Actually this country was founded by Native Americans and then stolen away from them. I don't honestly, think that there is anyone on this forum who is stating that you should be ashamed to be white. They are merely stating that in this country white privileges are allowed in every faction. Yes, you did have to study about individuals such as George Washington Carver, MLK and Rosa Parks, and I guarantee you it was only on February on Black History Month. We live in a country where US History is a requirement and in that history class we glance over the fact that who the first settlers were, how the land was taken away from them, how Africans were tricked about brought over to America, enslaved, then after the Civil War was over you used illegal tactics such as Black Codes and Jim Crow laws to prolong them being able to get better jobs and education to take over the family. Not to mention the Tuskegee Experiment and the impact that is still being felt today by individuals who ancestors were experimented on.

Please explain how we live in a society where on regular basis now Caucasian cops have been allowed without being penalized for centuries of killing unarmed black and brown men and women. Explain to me how people of color are still not allowed to move in any area they want to even when they have worked hard, got the proper education, and have the means but are threatened because Caucasian individuals feel that they don't belong.

This has been going on for years. The fact that you write that this country was founded by European Caucasians even when you know that it's incorrect shows just how you being a European Caucasian believe that as usually nothing is wrong and we should all just be happy to be here.

Totally Disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 6:50am.

You have just simultaniously refuted and proved you whole argument! If "our country was founded by European Caucasions, and our history reflects that," then you are justifying the "white privilege"! The whole thing that you are saying about Chinese, Koreans, etc., is based upon nationality—not race. What else did you learn about "people like George Washington Carver, MLK, and Rosa Parks"? Did you learn that they were all victims of :white privilege"?

White Privilege

Submitted by Anonymous on 9 September 2014 - 6:43pm.

I can't imagine a more lucid reply to this topic. It's completely a matter of common sense to me, and expending any energy at all examining this "white privilege" is totally a waste of time. Mainly because other than accepting the situation for what it is, there's nothing anyone can do as a group or individual to make any significant change, or reversal of the current structure present in this country as a result of how it came to be.

white Privilege

Submitted by Anonymous on 1 September 2014 - 12:56am.

There is White Privilege. I wish you and others would stop denying it. I wish you would have the courage to look at the truth.


Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 4:39pm.

I agree there is white privilege. Now, how do you propose we fix it equitably? Trey

Totally Disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 31 August 2014 - 9:10pm.

Would you be okay if you woke up a different color?....No? White privilege.

'Greek and Roman mythology,

Submitted by Anonymous on 15 August 2014 - 12:36am.

'Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any solid liberal arts education.' Because for American culture, and it's European counterpart"

The science and philosophy of which were taken from Islamic countries, India and China, but because these places were colonized by Whites - who write the history books - the credit wasn't received where it was due. Check your facts.

Sardar, Z 2001 'Above, beyond, and at the center of the science wars',2001, in Ashman, Keith M. and Baringer, Philip S. (eds.) After the science wars Ch. 8, pp. 120-139 New York : Routledge, 2001. vi, 224 p.

Totally Disagree

Submitted by Anonymous on 29 July 2014 - 3:14pm.

It is unclear why you argue that the term "White Privilege" is racist. This term does not demonize White people, nor does it assume that non-Whites are more superior to White people. It is a conceptual term that highlights the economic, cultural, social, and political power of the dominant society over the rest and the extent to which access to power positions are denied to other marginalized groups.

Reading about Rosa Parks or other Black activists and intellectuals is not a sign of real inclusion. Although you may have read and learned about MLK, I am sure you did not read about his critique of American imperialism, capitalism, and the involvement of American military in Vietnam. Moreover, we often read about these individuals in specific parts of the curriculum, when their inclusion serves the dominant values about the United States: "America is the land of Freedom". The curriculum remains a White dominated entity that normalizes White privilege, which is what you profess: "Which is why 'Greek and Roman mythology, Chaucer, and other canonized works have been selected and revered through the ages as critical components of any solid liberal arts education.' Because for American culture, and it's European counterpart, it was these works which shaped our society. Cultural works by individuals of other ethnic groups did not." Regarding your last statement, it is important to note that it was Muslim scholars who reintroduced the scholarship of Greeks back to Europeans. Study your history and you will find plenty of examples of how non-Europeans have contributed to the culture(s) of the United States.

BTW, America was not founded by European Caucasians. Rather, it was invaded and forcefully taken by White colonialists, whose ideologies assumed one racial group was more superior to others.


Submitted by Anonymous on 11 August 2014 - 9:00am.

The continent was taken by Europeans that justified their domination of the people living here through racism and their religion. Thanks.

Tex Shelters

Maybe I'm straying off the subject too far..but

Submitted by Anonymous on 8 November 2014 - 3:46am.

This strays from the original point of the article, but the fact is that America as a country did not exist until the end of the revolutionary war. I say that because had the revolutionary army lost to the British the 13 colonies which made up the original United States would have remained British colonies.
The fact that the continent was “taken” by anyone was inevitable. The indigenous people that were here prior to 1492 had taken it from whomever held it before them. The indigenous tribes of the continent fought each other for dominance of territory long before the Europeans showed up. The difference was the technological means the Europeans had at their disposal. Had any of the indigenous tribes had the same technology they certainly would have used it to expand and conquer. Imagine what the Incas or Aztecs would have done had they possessed the same technology as the Europeans.

The word "race"

Submitted by Anonymous on 2 July 2014 - 11:50am.

Have you ever noticed, when we think of the word "race", we think of black, Asian, but we don't think of white people, just like when we think of the word "gender", we think of women, as if men don't have a gender, as if white people don't belong to a racial category, as if heterosexuals don't have a sexual orientation. That is why hair care products for white peoples' hair doesn't go in "ethnic products".

Could you possibly consider

Submitted by Anonymous on 12 July 2014 - 11:08am.

Could you possibly consider you said way more about how you think, than you did about the way "we" think? I do think of white people as a race and men as a gender. And, in different geographical regions- the ethnic product would be "for white people" depending on the country one is in.

Just some points

Submitted by Anonymous on 1 July 2014 - 2:13am.

I agree with the points, except the one where you said store security or LE don't harass whites. I used to work at a clothing store and we were told to watch out for white teenage girls.

You forgot to mention that when a black person does something negative, all black America is labeled. White people never get labeled "terrorist" when one white person bombs a building, but that is not true for Arabs.

I just feel so guilty that

Submitted by Rob on 26 May 2014 - 12:38pm.

I just feel so guilty that I'm white. Every day I pray that the sins of societal whiteness can someday be expunged and obliterated. The crimes of white skin privilege leave me filled with shame and loathing.

I just feel so guilty

Submitted by Anonymous on 16 November 2014 - 11:24pm.

Guilt is not the objective by any means. The anger and purpose stem from the lack of willingness to except or understand the way things really are. Come out of the shell that have been placed upon you without your knowing that keeps the reality of how life in America really is for a person of color. I'm not referring to 70 years age I am referring to know, this day and age.

I just feel so guilty...

Submitted by Anonymous on 5 August 2014 - 11:32pm.

I don't believe the point of the article is to make you feel guilty. Long-standing inequalities in US society aren't the fault of any one individual. Instead of exhorting us to wallow in guilt, I believe author is asking us to think more critically and carefully about how our society is structured and whether some restructuring might be worthwhile. You might consider directing the powerful emotions you've discovered to inspire you to read, and think, and write about these issues. If you feel moved, find books or groups that focus on anti-racist activism. The history of humanity is rife with abuses and inequalities. You were born into one version of that. You don't have to be filled with shame and loathing against yourself. But if white privilege troubles you, consider being part of a movement to dismantle it!

Guilt free

Submitted by Anonymous on 7 June 2014 - 11:29am.

You have absolutely nothing to feel guilty about. You have no more reason to apologize for being white than I do for being black. Wave your white pride banner high and be proud of who you are!

I find the term: "white

Submitted by ccesena2 on 26 May 2014 - 10:18am.

I find the term: "white privilege" divisive, offensive and an objectionable, racist term of it's own. Racism has no power in our country but this term gives it life, gives it legs so it can stand on its own.

This term reminds me of the persecution of the Jews in Nazi Germany. It is a scapegoat, thug mentality that offers a racist term to supplant issues of personal responsibility and a government wrought with overlapping programs to keep groups down and subservient for the purpose of ideology and political expediency.

This is a horrendous explanation that supports a visceral hatred of one group for another, bastardizing the concept of equality and fairness in order to isolate and demonize one group for the benefit of another. I am deeply offended that it is perpetuated with tax payer dollars in an effort to irrationally, subjectively brainwash a generation to live in a manifest destiny of a conflict within the human race that does not exist, save the mass psychological neurosis spread by these purveyors of the politics of envy, of identity politics and the politics of division, to one end, to political power of collectivist ideologies of malcontent that deny personal success or personal failure with personal responsibility.

Shame on these hate dealers!

"Racism" a learned behavior?

Submitted by Anonymous on 5 September 2014 - 2:13am.

I would agree with you that "White Privilege" is a term used to keep the people divided and it is often used as a scapegoat. As long as the people are divided, and cannot unite, they cannot take control of the government that is supposed to be ran by the people. Racism is not something that an individual can be, nor is it a state of mind. Some one can have prejudices, however, an individual cannot be "racist" this is a term of policy. Everyone wants to blame someone else for problems. Growing up as a minority in a Black neighborhood, and now in a Hispanic neighborhood, I have seen discrimination from all walks of life. I would get pulled over in my own neighborhood for being white. I didn't fit in to what they assumed should live in this particular area. I didn't get a ticket for my driving but was harassed for living in this area daily. My skin color has been used against me and often am talked down upon for being white in these parts of town. If I was black or Hispanic would I have been hassled as bad?

White privilege keeps the idea that whites are still the oppressors, granted there are many whites that still discriminate against minorities. But there are just as many minorities that group all white people together and assume that they are judging them or afraid of them. As long as people perpetuate this white privilege it will live on and there will always be this split of whites VS. minorities.

We as a people need to band together stop teaching this hatred to our youth. "Racism" as y'all call it, will continue to thrive in society as long as we teach it to our youths. The way to stop this blasphemy is to stop teaching it. This is a learned behavior that needs to stop. Kids are not born "racist" they are taught to be careful around certain types of people, watch what you say to them.... However, if these kids don't hear this nonsense then they would continue mixing and mingling with people of every race and creed.

Racism IS a learned behavior!

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 September 2014 - 8:01am.

The concept of white privilage has to do with something that occurs on a subconcious level. I do know that there are some people out here that no matter how poor their situation is, will feel relieved that "at least they are not black". Could it be because they know that they benefit from some sort of privilage because they are white?

i agree

Submitted by Anonymous on 23 August 2014 - 9:42pm.

I agree

Just a Few Points

Submitted by Anonymous on 16 August 2014 - 11:12am.

Actually, lets just clear a few things up.

1.) racism decides our policies. racism decides that every person of color will be subjected to scrutiny and distrust simply for being a person of color. White privilege isn't a racist term, it's the fact of life that a lot of people refuse to acknowledge because they'd rather live in blissful ignorance. You can't be racist against a group of people that control the entire world. Yes, that's right, white people control the entire world. And even countries run by non white people have to fear that white governmental bodies may not like their policies and thereby do something to put them in an economic stranglehold.

This whole paragraph about the thug mentality etc. etc. is exactly the problem with white privilege Whites have the implicit privilege to bull the non white groups because they are the ethnic majority and because they are numerous, both of which are advantageous to being a bully. And yes, government groups (all the powerful ones run by WHITE people) do further degrade the human rights of people of color simply because they aren't white. Much like the Nazis did to what they felt were the non Aryan communities like gypsies and roma, jews, czechs, poles, catholics, homosexuals etc.

You really should think things through before you say them or type them.

Nazi Gemany?

Submitted by Anonymous on 5 August 2014 - 11:50pm.

Comparing the users of the term "white privilege" to the persecutors of Jews in Nazi Germany seems strange to me. Do people who use the term "white privilege" seem to be advocating for mass incarceration or execution of a particular ethnic group? Are they suiting up and violently attacking or advocating attacks on a particular ethnic group (white, black or any other?).

This article highlights ways in which common U.S. business establishments- hotels, grocery stores, etc.-may support a climate in which one group (whites) is seen as "normal" while others (black, latino, asian, etc.) are seen as "ethnic." The author seems to suggest that our society would do better if every member of society, regardless of race, were seen as normal. Seems like the opposite of the Nazi agenda, which celebrated the superiority of one group over all others....

You may not see this as racist, but it is...

Submitted by Anonymous on 4 September 2014 - 7:48am.

The term white privilege is derogatory.

The assertion that white, heterosexual men have no recognizable identity is dehumanizing and wrong. The first steps to genocide are dehumanization and vilification.

That is what the Nazis did to the Jews before they started rounding them up for slaughter.

In the end, instead of dehumanizing groups, people need to learn to accept differences / similarities between groups and realize that barriers only exist when people build them and keep them propped up.

No one group has some supreme privilege over another. We all have social, economic, physical, spiritual and mental hurdles to overcome and the color of my skin has nothing to do with that. And neither does yours.


Submitted by Anonymous on 30 June 2014 - 11:00pm.

Race doesn't not exist - to you BECAUSE YOU DON'T EXPERIMCE THAT ON THE DAILY.
Step outside your comfort zone and read White Privilege by Peggy Mcintosh, Peggy is a white woman who makes a list of all of the privledge you get with being white.

You are an anti-white bigot

Submitted by Anonymous on 13 October 2014 - 7:39pm.

Your hatred for whites is obvious, and therefore, anything you say or position you take is meaningless to me. You are a bigot of the worst kind who is projecting your psychiatric pathology onto undeserving whites. Hayden Hanna

Experience racism?

Submitted by Anonymous on 5 September 2014 - 2:31am.

I am white and have lived in a city that is very segregated. Three areas north (blacks) south (Hispanics) west (whites). I lived in the north side growing up and currently reside in the South side. White people living in these areas go through the struggles of being the minority in these parts of town. They are harassed, and pulled over for being white in a minority area and treated poorly because of their skin color in these areas. Kids were picked on for big white, and even beaten because of it. Don;t tell me that just because of my white skin I don't experience it on the daily. Minorities discriminate against white people just as "all white people" discriminate against minorities. Like I said in another post, as long as we let this word "racism" run our daily lives then it will never go away.

We as people need to get away from "racism," a word of policy really. We need to educate the harm of perpetuating these outrageous ideas that whites owe everyone else. Im not taking anything away from the past, but lets move on as a society and create something good to be remembered by. Lets be known as the generation that changed this distinction of race.These barriers of race only hold us down from properly running our government as "the people." The problems we face in America are strongly based on class privileges rather the race privileges. I understand that there are still many people that discriminate based on race but the realities are class plays more of a role.

Class does play a role. But

Submitted by Anonymous on 9 September 2014 - 10:30am.

Class does play a role. But these intersect with race and gender. Yes your white and poor and okay you'll get pulled over in a neighborhood for being white.
What you don't understand is that the rich black man AND the poor black man get pulled over no matter their class because of their RACE.
Maybe class is an issue for you and you want to ignore race because it doesn't affect YOU.The reality is that we have to struggle with more than just class.

I was just about to suggest

Submitted by Anonymous on 12 July 2014 - 11:40am.

I was just about to suggest reading that same article to the poster,

First off i'm white and I'm

Submitted by Carl on 11 April 2014 - 8:40pm.

First off i'm white and I'm not racist. We've all felt racism that it's not the point we should worry about intelligence because only people with low IQs are racist. And that is a fact. And the only one that holds you back is yourself. Just because your white that's does not mean your privileged and my black and Spanish friends make just as much as me because they are intelligent we are all just people. Stop Being ignorant don't ignore the facts