It is hard for people who were born with either the privilege of male or being white to notice it. Mostly, it is always visible among the people who do not have either of the advantages. The subject of white privilege is hard to discuss because white people do not feel as if they hold an advantage which other people do not have. Thus, it is normal for people who have racial, class or gender privileges to view their position as normal. Privilege can be defined as a benefit or right that people with advantage over their counterparts get to enjoy. The writings of Peggy McIntosh highlight that the privileges enjoyed by the white are things that occur daily and are globally available to every person. The majority of the whites see themselves just as other individuals who form a portion of the human race. However, a majority of individuals perceive people without a white skin as people of a race. One confusing part is that despite white people not perceiving themselves as members of a particular radical group; people of color always perceive them like that. The concept of white privilege and its benefits can be taken as institutional comparatively to personal.
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The white people by race have been shown to enjoy certain advantages and also depicted as individuals who have significant positions in their institutions. The first privilege is that white people have access to a lot of doors when compared to other races. It can be evidenced by financial history which shows that white people residing in USA were more likely to acquire loans to finance their housing when compared to people of color. On the other hand, parents with American-Indian origins acknowledge that their children do not need to learn about their people’s contribution towards America from the school classroom. It can be argued that the issue of white privilege comes about based on the white people’s sex, age, weight, socioeconomic position or even physical ability. For instance, it can be observed that the white men have an advantage over the white women on job opportunities and managerial positions. On the other hand, white women are more in the workforce when compared to black women.
When discussing the concept of white privilege, it is important to note that white people did not have to necessarily be ‘good’ for them to possess the advantages. However, they can behave inappropriately and still enjoy the benefits. Their privileges have been bestowed on them by the institutions where they interact most of the times and not that they are better deserving than other people. As humans, we are always perceived as people belonging to a particular race. However, some people have privileges due to opportunities granted to them simply for the reason that they belong to certain favored individuals in a society or other settings. For example, the applications of a daughter or son born by particular alumni of a person college may be accepted despite them scoring lower grades than other people in the class. It is a good example of how people at some instances get privileges they do not deserve more than other people but for the simple reason that they belonged to a favored group in the society.
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Thus, the white people may not be intentionally utilizing their undeserved benefits based on their skin color, but instead, it is a continuation of decisions that have been made through history. Historically, numerous decisions in nations like USA have been created in a systematic way that favors the white privilege and puts them in a better position where they enjoy the free benefits when compared to the black people. For example, the constitutions of the US at certain times saw black people as slaves and were treated as property. Also, the black population had been exempted from reading so that they could not benefit from the things that come as a result of having a literate society. Also, there had been predominant beliefs that the whites were supposed to own the land they lived in the US and the people of color ought to be evicted from that land.
White privilege has enabled the white people to misuse the free benefits by wounding others through their actions and words. Throughout history, there have been various cases where white men committed murder, raped and even stole from black people. They did that to amass wealth, gain power and also enjoy the privilege they have today. Thus, white privilege poses a threat to other individuals who do not belong to their group. It can also be seen in other aspects such as the distribution of wealth, housing, and education. It explains why white men with a lot of wealth are held above the law in cases of criminal actions such as rape committed by them. One of the instances is a case whereby a white college male by the name John Enochs raped two women in Indiana and got to serve only a year of probation, and a spent only a night in jail despite his offense being a level three violation in his state (Madkins, 2016). Additionally, white men avoid conversations on social media when social injustices have been done by white people (Mckenzie, 2012).
In another case, Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old male with wealth received a sentence of 10 years’ probation after the murder of four individuals as a result of drunk driving. According to the judge, Couch was not to be held liable for his actions since his parents never created rules applying to him. Also, he went further to violate his probation and fled to Mexico where he committed other wrong doings. In result, he was to serve a jail term of two years for the manslaughter conviction. Thus, it is evident from such cases that there is a perception that white men ought to be held at supreme standards. Everything surrounding the case of Brock Turner shows white privilege. Brock Turner raped an unconscious female, and the media described him as someone destined for the Olympics and gave him fame by even continuing to show shots of his mug and school ID (Madkins, 2016). Such actions by journalists bring controversy about the justice system whereby black men are falsely accused and even imprisoned on false allegations.
On the other hand, not all white people have been able to enjoy the benefits of the ‘so-called’ white privilege. Some poor white people are living in low standards and can evade their situations by acquiring educations that help them to better their lives. Some of the conditions that they are subjected to are harsh, for example, some of them have to survive the cold weather of winter in Illinois without having running water or heat (Crosley-Corcoran, 2014). In fact, at some instances, it prompts one of them to adjust to the conditions by making noodles in a coffee maker while utilizing water acquired from a public bathroom.
In conclusion, it is a perception that maybe white people might have earned their benefits whereas the benefits stem from the historical aspect whereby they were favored by the systems put in place during the early days. The notion of the position of the white man has been carried over the years although most of the white men may seem to look at themselves as normal when compared to others. However, there are various cases where the justice system did not adequately address atrocities done by the white men on black people. Thus, it can be said that the white man privilege is an institutional problem and should be treated using an approach that integrates such an aspect.
- Crosley-Corcoran, G. (2014). Explaining White Privilege to a Broke White Person. Huffingtonpost. Web. 7 May 2017.
- Madkins, C. (2016). White, Male Privilege is Killing Us All. Endrapeoncampus. Web. 7 May 2017.
- Mckenzie, M. (2012). Black Girl Dangerous; On Race, Queerness, and Class and Gender (1st ed., pp. 39-47). Oakland: BGD Press inc.