Unpacking White Privilege

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade are only a few black folks who were killed by racism. It’s important to say their names and to recognize why these unnecessary deaths occurred.

What exactly is white privilege? Privilege means to have a right or immunity granted as a particular benefit or advantage; this can be attached to a certain position in society, at work, or at school. 

There are many categories that constitute being “privileged:” it can include, but are not limited to, being white, male, middle or upper class, Christian, cisgender, able-bodied, or heterosexual.

COVID Photo by United Nations COVID-19 Response on Unsplash

It is important to become aware of your privilege. This should be viewed as an opportunity to learn and truly change your behavior and cognitive dissonance to work towards making a more inclusive world.

There are endless examples of how white privilege is prevalent each and every day. Peggy McIntosh, an anti-racism activist and scholar who writes on issues of equity and privilege, created a list of the daily effects of white privilege in her life. 

McIntosh’s examples are meant to be from the perspective of a person who carries privilege on a day-to-day basis. For example, “I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.” Also, “I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed,” and “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”

person holding a sign that says Photo by Marco Allasio from Pexels

These are only a few examples out of McIntosh’s list of 26 daily effects of white privilege that often go overlooked.

It is important to recognize these privileges and to be aware of how they are being taken for granted. This is the first step in becoming an ally to the BIPOC community. Also, you should take time to research difficult and complex terms, listen to BIPOC experiences, and amplify their voices and messages. 

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is a valuable step in showing up for the BIPOC community, but the work does not end here.