White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh

PDF essay excerpted from Working Paper 189. "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account
of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women's Studies" (1988), by Peggy McIntosh.

Excerpt

As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts
others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege,
which puts me at an advantage.

I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize
male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have
come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in
each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible
weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank
checks.

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