Do you think of yourself as white? Or have you never thought of it before? If you think of yourself as white, how do you feel about it? Do you think of yourself as a person who is usually trusted, who can buy what you want anywhere you want with whatever credit you might need without paying extra for the privilege? Can you live pretty much anywhere you wish? Do you generally think that the police officer over there is suspicious of you because you’re white?
In fact, few of us ever give our whiteness a thought – or a second thought – and the benefits whiteness accrue to us as a result of not being a person of color in Minnesota or the United States.
In fact, African-American children learn as early as age four or five that they are, indeed, Black, and they continue to learn as they go along what it means to be a person of color in this culture. Same with Asians. And Latinos.
Confronting our privilege as whites is being seen as an essential step in understanding what it means to be NON-white, something that’s always been true. This is the antithesis of the sense of white superiority or white supremacy that has pervaded much of our laws and commerce and governance since well before our founding – a pervasive, shameful, and dehumanizing perception that gave us slavery, Jim Crow, school segregation, and the ghettoizing of our cities, suburbs and metropolitan areas – and continues to plague the underlying poverty, class distinction, and subtle exclusion that marks what was originally designed to be a totally inclusionary alternative to the monarchist cultures where our forebears were born and raised.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL talks with researchers, teachers and advocates who work to get all of us to come to grips with what it means to be white in our society.
- PEGGY MCINTOSH, PhD – Sr. Research Scientist and Associate Director, Wellesley Centers for Women; Author, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack/strong>
• NANCY RODENBORG, PhD – Associate Professor of Social Work (Diversity), Augsburg College; Augsburg College Diversity Committee and the Diversity and Global Learning Collaborative