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What is White Privilege?

What is Privilege?

“White Privilege is the other side of racism. Unless we name it, we are in danger of wallowing in guilt or moral outrage with no idea of how to move beyond them. It is often easier to deplore racism and its effects than to take responsibility for the privileges some of us receive as a result of it… once we understand how white privilege operates, we can begin addressing it on an individual and institutional basis.” ~Paula Rothenberg

“Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do. Access to privilege doesn’t determine one’s outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability, and aspirations a person with privilege has will result in something positive for them.” ~Peggy McIntosh

Examples of Privilege

Being able to…

  • assume that most of the people you or your children study in history classes and textbooks will be of the same race, gender, or sexual orientation as you are
  • assume that your failures will not be attributed to your race, or your gender
  • assume that if you work hard and follow the rules, you will get what you deserve
  • success without other people being surprised; and without being held to a higher standard
  • go out in public without fear of being harassed or constantly worried about physical safety
  • not have to think about your race, or your gender, or your sexual orientation, or disabilities, on a daily basis...

WPC is About Creating Change!

“Whites need to acknowledge and work through the negative historical implications of ‘Whiteness’ and create for ourselves a transformed identity as White people committed to equity and social change...To teach my White students and my own children...that there are different ways of being White, and that they have a choice as White people to become champions of justice and social healing.” ~Gary Howard

“The most powerful message that continues to reverberate through my head and heart is that of looking at the future and eliminating systems of oppression through the lens of possibility and hope.” ~Educator commenting on WPC 7

To learn more about privilege, we recommend:

  • Privilege, Power and Difference, by Allan Johnson
  • Privilege: A Reader, edited by Michael S. Kimmel and Abby L. Ferber
  • White Privilege: Essential Readings on the Other Side of Racism, by Paul Rothenberg