Checking my privilege

I have frequently heard the term, white privilege.  I knew intuitively what it meant but have never examined my own white privilege.  Inspired by So You Want to Talk About Race, I decided to do that. As defined in the book, ‘Privilege, in the social justice context, is an advantage or set of advantages that you have that others do not’.

Here are my privileges I have come up with so far:

  • Born white
  • Born documented to English speaking parents
  • Born neuro-typical and non-disabled
  • Straight and cisgender
  • Raised in an intact family with reasonable financial security
  • Able to safely play outside, ride my bike and walk to school as a child
  • Friends readily available that looked like me
  • Access to excellent free public schools within walking distance
  • Access to an affordable college education
  • People like me in the majority at school, work, books, movies, my neighborhood and on the streets
  • Have a safety net (Medicare, Social Security and a pension)

I was tempted to list my disadvantages as well.  As the author pointed out, this isn’t the time for that so ‘resist the urge’. The author revisits her list of privileges often.  I think that is a good plan for me.

Students from the University of Washington School of Public Health are sharing this white privilege checklist from Peggy McIntosh at Wellesley. I know there are other resources out there too.

I sometimes wish I had the platforms for systemic change that I once had.  But I don’t.  So I want to think about how I can increase my awareness of racism overall and to find effective ways to advocate, starting with voting! 

Here is another checklist (I am a huge checklist fan) with ideas for action: 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice.



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