When the two words “white privilege” is uttered, I immediately resort to thinking derogatory thoughts of those who have a special immunity based on being a white person. White privilege has been oppressive dating back to the 1600s until the 1800s when slavery was formally abolished by the thirteenth amendment, to the present day. The obstacle is faced by persons of color to be subjected to unjust hardships and constraints whether it be under social, political, or economic circumstances. As McIntosh says, “I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.” This is an example of how domineering white privilege can be. As a white person, Mcintosh said this has turned out to be the opposite of privilege and instead “an elusive and fugitive subject” creating this burden to avoid it at all costs. Although white privilege affects those of the minority race, this unearned power also has negative drawbacks to those who recognize the oppressive reality and want to separate themselves. These two examples are a small percentage of the bigger piece that contributes to white privilege oppression.
A positive daily effect of white privilege that I experience is being recognized as a model minority where it’s perceived that members of these demographics have higher education leading to socioeconomic success and a chance low criminality. It can be borderline stereotyping, however, this action can result less of a chance that my financial responsibility will be questioned whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash as a form of payment, a higher probability that my neighbors will be more pleasant towards me or that I can be sure that I will not be followed or harassed while shopping alone. A negative daily effect of white privilege that affects me is going to the local grocery store and not finding staple foods that fit with my cultural traditions or find a hairstylist that can work with my type of hair. Most grocery stores have a small section dedicated to ethnic foods, but it’s not comparable to the full selection at the supermarkets in Orange County where there’s a larger population of people of my culture. My natural hair is very dark, thick, and the process of coloring is not easy so I cannot walk into any salon and instead need to travel to a hairstylist that specializes in Asian hair. Grocery stores and hair salons are in essence, a few items amongst many in the invisible knapsack. These are micro advantages that do not apply to all, thus creating a larger gap and allowing white privilege to prevail.
The idea of earned strength is more or less similar to getting a college degree by working hard to receive that merit to open up a larger pool of career opportunities. Unearned power can range from being a far more favorable applicant being white as opposed to an African American applicant by employers or getting relocated to work the front desk versus the back based on the lighter complexion of your skin tone. As McIntosh said “power from unearned privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or dominate” lays out how you can get away with surpassing whether it be in education or workplace.
Although white privilege is an undisclosed and transparent preference that is often difficult to recognize, it needs to be learned about, discussed and address starting in the education system. With this new knowledge on white privilege and the extremities, I plan on educating not only myself, but expand my knowledge to others around me that there are two sides just like for McIntosh. The side where you’re reaping the advantages of white privilege and fighting the oppression that following follows with the benefits. I want to eliminate the power of bashing white privilege that we (a person of color) may feel entitled to since we’re only committing the same offense. Moving forward, mindful reframing is a technique I will utilize on navigating white privilege.