Thursday, September 24, 2009

White Girl

Tim Wise wrote an essay entitled, "Whites Swim in Racial Preference." The title pretty much says it all. The fish doesn't feel wet and as a white person I don't feel racial preference because it is all I know. I've never known discrimination or racism.

Dr. Peggy McIntosh of Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, has extensively studied race and privilege. She compiled a list of markers of racial privilege. I listed several of them here:

"If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.

I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.

I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.

I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.

I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the "person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race.

I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

I can choose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin."

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