McIntosh introduces in social problems essays https://essays-writing-service.com/social-problems-essay/ the concept of white privilege that many people enjoy without thinking about it. She states that white privilege is a package of unearned assets, “Like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks”. She claims that white privilege is an unfair advantage and white people are indeed oppressive in a number of ways with most of them considering themselves morally neutral at this. Therefore, by the concept of white privilege, McIntosh means that the white people are taught to be oppressive from their childhood and fail to notice how discriminating they can be. It also implies that the white people underestimate regular things that are viewed as benefits by the people of color. Among such benefits, the author mentions the ability to air one’s views, having more possibilities at work, not thinking about race in different life situations, including speaking in public or on behalf of the entire group or criticizing the government without feeling as a cultural outsider, and many other things. However, while discussing the concept of white privilege, the author gives it a negative connotation stating that it has nothing to do with strength or power and that it is simply unearned.
McIntosh presents 46 examples of white people’s privileges, five of which help understand better the essence of the concept. Firstly, the white people do not have to teach their children, “To be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection”. In fact, they do not even have to explain to their children that their abilities and behavior can be judged by others based on their skin color. This situation leads to the second privilege that the white people can dress in shabby clothes and not be disrespected by the others attributing this behavior to their race. It is hard to admit this fact, but associating bad morals with the skin color is common for many people. Another interesting example is that any white person can easily buy anything featuring people of white race, such as toys, books, and posters. Even though at present dolls of different skin colors are more available than in the 1990s, the choice of dolls with white skin is still much wider. Furthermore, white people do not have to think about the issues of race if their day, week, or year has been unsuccessful. For the people of color, it is one more reason to consider when analyzing why they have not been successful enough. Finally, example number 46 concerning the availability of bandages and blemish covers is also quite reasonable. People of color indeed have fewer opportunities to hide the defects of their skin; it was even a bigger problem when the article was written.
A list of examples similar to those concerning the benefits of white privilege can be developed when it comes to heterosexual privilege. For example, children of heterosexual parents do not have to ask why their mother/father lives with his/her partner whereas it can be traumatic experience for a child of homosexual parents to realize that his/her family is different. It becomes especially problematic for children at school where they are taught about traditional family units. Moreover, marital arrangements of a heterosexual person are regarded as assets to his/her life, while homosexual couples often experience disapproval and even denial. Finally, heterosexual couples are perceived as abnormal by most people, which cannot but influence the quality of their lives that they have chosen to live as they want and not as it is generally accepted. It shows that heterosexual couples are no less privileged than the white people are and tend to enjoy more benefits and face fewer problems in life.
Drawing from personal experiences, people of color enjoy less understanding than the privileged ones. Last week, I witnessed two white ladies at the bus stop engaging into a discussion of how the black culture had penetrated into the society and resulted in the white youngsters piercing their body parts, listening to rap music, and wearing loose clothes. The discussion took place after noticing a white teenager with the abovementioned qualities driving by in his car. The ladies clearly differentiated the two cultures and identified the influence of the black culture as the negative one. They did not even feel it necessary to keep their voices down, which demonstrated how convinced they were in their supremacy and rightness.
McIntosh’s article helps better understand the essence of oppression and find it where it has not been noticed before. The author supports her ideas with bright examples that make it unnecessary to convince the readers that she is right. It is indeed difficult for a white person to notice that oppression is represented through “systemic relationships of domination and subordination structured through social institutions such as schools, businesses, hospitals, the work place, and government agencies”. White privilege, the concept that many white people are not even familiar with, saves them every day from hostility, violence, and, what is also quite important, distress. Indeed, the white people feel as outsiders more rarely than people of color, as well as they often have to do less to achieve success, just because they do not feel different. Therefore, McIntosh’s explanation of why the white people can be considered privileged can contribute to making society less discriminating and oppressive.