1. How is racial privilege different from other forms of privilege? Where have you felt that you were privileged? For what reason were you privileged, do you think: your race, gender, sexuality, age, or being an American? If more than one social category played a role, then how did they interact?
Racial privilege is different from other forms of privilege because we live in North America, where people hold the belief that racism isn’t as prevalent in modern society as it was ten years ago. Some people believe that racism doesn’t exist, that it isn’t an important issue to discuss anymore because we have made strides as a society. Racial privilege is an issue more so than any of privilege because it is based on some asinine idea that races have biological differences that make them undeserving of the same rights and opportunities. I have never felt in any moment that I was privileged because of my race; however, in saying that I don’t mean that I wasn’t experiencing white privilege. What I am saying is that I didn’t feel that, in the moment, I wasn’t achieving something based solely on my merits. The unfortunate truth is that there have been times where I have experienced white privilege and not known it. There are also times where I have benefitted from gender privilege, such as when I get out of a speeding ticket because I am a woman, or when I make more money off a table I have served than a man would have simply because I am a woman. I have also benefitted from my father being a banker, which allowed me to obtain a bank loan for school. I have had opportunities in sports and arts which I wouldn’t have had if my parents were lower class. The simple truth is that I have most definitely benefitted from being white and upper-middle class.
2. What role does class play in racial privilege, and how much? Some argue that class is the most important social category, do you agree or disagree?
Class plays a role in racial privilege because there is a hierarchy within the hierarchy. Upper class white men are more privileged than lower class white men, upper class black men are more privileged than lower class black men. Upper classes, even in the same race, have better opportunities and advantages than lower classes do because of their status in society and their ability to pay for the better opportunity. They are awarded with better contacts, live within better neighborhoods, drive better cars, and have better jobs. I do not agree with the idea that class is the most important social category because it is ever-changing. Class is not static, you can work your way out of lower class or you can fall from a higher class into a lower one. It is impossible to change your race, which is the most important social category.
3. Do you think things have changed from the time that McIntosh wrote the article assigned? Is so, how? If not, why not?
I do think times have changed from the time that McIntosh wrote the article, however I would argue that most of the change has been made in Canada. We are more open to affirmative action polices in universities for historically disadvantaged minorities, we have laws in place that attempt to combat hate crimes, and we allow all people with different sexual orientations to get married. This isn’t to say that we are anywhere near where we should be as a country, because we are not. We are far away from having equality for everyone regardless of race, class or gender; however, we are making changes to get to that point. The US, in my opinion, has not made as many strides as Canada. There are still many states that do not allow gay marriage, that support the death penalty (which is unfavourable to black men), and that do not support or even recognize that affirmative action is a necessary component in order to combat institutional racism.
4. Discuss your experiences at Robben Island. Explain the role of racial privilege in South African history and currently.
White privilege is extremely prevalent in South African history and currently. in 1950, the Population Registration Act established criteria to classify everyone as either “White, Coloured, or Black” (Posel, 2001). Racial privilege was forced by law through this act as well as others all the way through until the 1990′s. Currently, social advantages are still rampant for White people through social status and guaranteed advantages. Matthews, 2011, states that there is currently a difference of five times in average per-capita income between White people and Black people.
Jensen, Robert (1998) “White privilege shapes the U.S. http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/freelance/whiteprivilege.htm Retrieved11/09/12
McIntosh, Peggy (1988) http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html
Deborah Posel, “Race as Common Sense: Racial Classification in Twentieth- Century South Africa”, African Studies Review 44 (2), September 2001
Sally Matthews, “Inherited or earned advantage?“, Mail & Guardian, 12 September 2011.