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