White Privilege: How can I unpack my knapsack?

In Peggy McIntosh’s article titled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” the author explains her journey with the myth of meritocracy from the perspective of a white woman in the United States. As a white woman like McIntosh, I could easily see her perspective throughout this article. Most interesting to me were her numbered points on white privilege that I had not taken into account. For example, I love shopping at second hand and thrift stores to find great deals on previously owned clothing. Because I am white I can follow rule 12 (I can dress in second hand clothes without people attributing this to my race or socio economic status) and I have never thought of people of colour being discriminated against.

In response to this article I wonder what I can I do? This author clearly states that systematic racism cannot be solved by white people being “kind” to people or colour. I know that because I benefit from white privilege it is my job to be aware of it. I cannot fix privilege, but maybe as a teacher I can try to even the playing field. I hope that as I examine the contents of my knapsack I can more equitably teach the students in my classroom, knowing that this white privilege positively effects me.

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