The Curriculum

 

Appendix C:

 

White Privilege Checklist

(Retrieved June 21, 2005 from www.unh.edu/residential-life/ diversity/aw_article17.pdf) Permission pending.

Peggy McIntosh, Ph.D, Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, describes white privilege as “an invisible package of unearned assets, which 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, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks” (McIntosh, 1989). 

The following are some examples Dr, McIntosh provides of ways white individuals have privilege because they are white.  Read the list and place a check next to the privileges that apply to you or that you have encountered.  Discuss, or write in your Reflective Journal, your understandings of this activity.

___ 1.  I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

___ 2.  I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

___ 3.  I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

___ 4.  When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

___ 5.  I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

___ 6.  I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the food I grew up with, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.

___ 7.  Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial responsibility.

___ 8.  I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing, or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

___ 9.  I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

___10. I can take a job or enrol in a college with an affirmative action policy without having my co-workers or peers assume I got it because of my race.

___11. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

___12. I can choose public accommodation with out fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated.

___13. I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group.

___14. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk with the “person in charge” I will be facing a person of my race.

___15. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of my race.

___16. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.

___17. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

___18. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

___19. I can walk into a classroom and know I will not be the only member of my race.

___20. I can enrol in a class at college and be sure that the majority of my professors will be of my race.

For further information about “privilege” refer to the Annotated Bibliography and to the Unit 1 Background Notes (pages 86, 91, and 95) in this curriculum guide.

 

The Male Privilege Checklist

An Unabashed Imitation of an Article by Peggy McIntosh

(Source: Expository Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2.  Copyright © 2001 - 2002 Barry Deutsch.  Permission is granted to reproduce this list in any way, for any purpose, so long as the acknowledgment of Peggy McIntosh's work for inspiring this list is not removed25 .)

In 1990, Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”.  McIntosh observes that whites in the U.S. are "taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group."  To illustrate these invisible systems, McIntosh wrote a list of 26 invisible privileges whites benefit from.

As McIntosh points out, men also tend to be unaware of their own privileges as men.  In the spirit of McIntosh's essay, I thought I'd compile a list similar to McIntosh's, focusing on the invisible privileges benefiting men.

Since I first compiled it, the list has been posted several times on Internet discussion groups.  Very helpfully, many people have suggested additions to the checklist.  More commonly, of course, critics (usually, but not always, male) have pointed out men have disadvantages too - being drafted into the army, being expected to suppress emotions, and so on.  These are indeed bad things - but I never claimed that life for men is all ice cream sundaes.  Pointing out that men are privileged in no way denies that sometimes bad things happen to men.

In the end, however, it is men and not women who make the most money; men and not women who dominate the government and the corporate boards; men and not women who dominate virtually all of the most powerful positions of society.  And it is women and not men who suffer the most from intimate violence and rape; who are the most likely to be poor; who are, on the whole, given the short end of patriarchy's stick.  As Marilyn Frye has argued, while men are harmed by patriarchy, women are oppressed by it.

Several critics have also argued that the list somehow victimizes women.  I disagree; pointing out problems is not the same as perpetuating them.  It is not a "victimizing" position to fight against injustice; we can't fight injustice if we refuse to acknowledge it exists.

An internet acquaintance of mine once wrote, "The first big privilege which whites, males, people in upper economic classes, the able bodied, the straight (I think one or two of those will cover most of us) can work to alleviate is the privilege to be oblivious to privilege."  This checklist is, I hope, a step towards helping men to give up the "first big privilege."

The Male Privilege Checklist

  1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favour. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.
  2. I can be confident that my co-workers won't think I got my job because of my sex - even though that might be true.
  3. If I am never promoted, it's not because of my sex.
  4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won't be seen as a black mark against my entire sex's capabilities.
  5. The odds of my encountering sexual harassment on the job are so low as to be negligible.
  6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.
  7. If I'm a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are so low as to be negligible.
  8. I am not taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces.
  9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.
  10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.
  11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I'll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I'm even marginally competent.
  12. If I have children and pursue a career, no one will think I'm selfish for not staying at home.
  13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.
  14. Chances are my elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more likely this is to be true.
  15. I can be somewhat sure that if I ask to see "the person in charge," I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.
  16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters.
  17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children's media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male heroes were the default.
  18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often.
  19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.
  20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception.
  21. If I'm careless with my financial affairs it won't be attributed to my sex.
  22. If I'm careless with my driving it won't be attributed to my sex.
  23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.
  24. If I have sex with a lot of people, it won't make me an object of contempt or derision.
  25. There are value-neutral clothing choices available to me; it is possible for me to choose clothing that doesn't send any particular message to the world.
  26. My wardrobe and grooming are relatively cheap and consume little time.
  27. If I buy a new car, chances are I'll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car.
  28. If I'm not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
  29. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.
  30. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called "crime" and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called "domestic violence" or "acquaintance rape," and is seen as a special interest issue.)
  31. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. "All men are created equal…," mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
  32. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.
  33. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if i don't change my name.
  34. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.
  35. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is usually pictured as being male.
  36. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.
  37. If I have a wife or girlfriend, chances are we'll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labour, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks.
  38. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, chances are she'll do most of the childrearing, and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing.
  39. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we'll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.
  40. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media are filled with images of scantily clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are much rarer.
  41. I am not expected to spend my entire life 20-40 pounds underweight.
  42. If I am heterosexual, it's incredibly unlikely that I'll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover.
  43. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.