Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Response to Sterling (9/23)

I thought this week's readings were very enlightening, particular Peggy McIntosh's article on white privilege. When i read the list she made of 50 "daily effects of white privilege," it really opened my eyes and made me realize that I definitely take these privileges for granted, as a white woman. They are things that can significantly change and shape someone's life, but I don't even think of them. For example, Peggy says one of the effects of white privilege that she experiences is that she can "go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assure that [she] will not be followed or harassed." I would never even think of this as a privilege. However, if you put yourself in someone else's shoes, you start to realize that shopping without being harassed is not an assumed privilege whatsoever. It makes it even more difficult to recognize your privilege, when you are mainly surrounded by people very similar to you in terms of their backgrounds. Colgate, for example, is made up predominantly of white, middle-upper class to upper class students. We live in a sort of a bubble, where we sometimes do not even have the experiences, which would really helps us to notice that we are extremely privileged or that others in our community are extremely underprivileged. I really liked this article because it is one of the first things we've read that those who are not oppressed to take action to help the oppressed (whether it be women or people of non-white races). It urges them to acknowledge they are living in a world, where they are privileged, and that the myth of meritocracy is a smokescreen.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that one of the great points of McIntosh's article is that it urges her fellow academic colleagues to acknowledge that they live in a world where they are the privileged ones; however the article did not point out any ways in which people can work to change society. As we discussed in class, Peggy's article was very similar to Johnson's in many ways; however Johnson clearly laid out a few ways that men specifically can help to change the "system", including commenting negatively toward a blatantly sexist joke or comment. Peggy does list 50 ways that white people are privileged, most of which I had not thought of; however she does not point out specific ways that these can be changed.