Exploring The Legacy of White Privilege
Section 4 Objective
- To deepen our understanding of white privilege and how it affects our lives
- To move from an intellectual understanding of white privilege to an emotional understanding
I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible, weightless knapsack of special provisions: maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks. – Peggy McIntosh
Unpacking Our Own Knapscks
Divide into small groups of 3 to unpack your own knapsacks.
Dealing with the Emotional Impact of White Privilege
- Take a couple of minutes to reflect on your overall reactions to the activities you have experienced so far today. Using the crayons available, silently write down words, symbols, pictures that are associated with your feelings. Do this on the half-sheets of paper in front of you, then place them in the interior circle on the paper covering your table.
- Once everyone at your table has placed their images in the circle, share with each other at your table what feelings came up as you reflected on the video and homework articles. Be aware of the tendency to intellectualize your responses at this time, focus only on your emotional reactions.
- Discuss with each other your responses to the question: what does it mean to live with white privilege and how does it impact us individually and collectively?
- As you do this, write all of your responses within the outer ring of the paper covering your table.
- Report back to the whole group.
Addressing White Fragility
Since the creation of this curriculum, Robin DiAngelo has brought forth the concept of “White Fragility” which can surface in dealing with the emotional impact of deconstructing white privilege. Here is a video clip of her describing that conflict.
For more from Dr. DiAngelo, you can view a more formal presentation.
“We who grew up white southerners two and three generations ago learned something else the whole society needs to ponder. We found that when we turned ourselves inside out to face the truth, it was a painful process, but it was not destructive. Rather, it became a moment of rebirth – and opened up new creative vistas in our lives.” Ann Braeden, from Understanding White Privilege, by Frances Kendall
- Bring an example of a white person who you admire for her or his efforts to build racial justice.
- Read The Life Long Journey: The ladder of empowerment for white people by tema okum.
Posted in: Cracking the Shell of Whiteness