Skip to Main Content

Anti-Racism Resources

What is 'White Privilege'?

White privilege is often described through the lens of Peggy McIntosh’s groundbreaking essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Originally published in 1988, the essay discusses the everydayness of unearned entitlements and advantages by making its effects personal and tangible. 

To understand and accept white privilege is not an academic exercise. The responsibility is to internally and externally work to dismantle the system of white supremacy in all of its forms. White privilege includes powerful incentives for maintaining this privilege and its consequences, and powerful negative consequences for trying to interrupt or reduce its consequences.

For many, white privilege was an invisible force that white people needed to recognize. It was being able to walk into a store and find that the main displays of shampoo and panty hose were catered toward your hair type and skin tone. It was being able to turn on the television and see people of your race widely represented. It was being able to move through life without being racially profiled or unfairly stereotyped

This idea of white privilege as unseen, unconscious advantages took hold. It became easy for people to interpret McIntosh’s version of white privilege—fairly or not—as mostly a matter of cosmetics and inconvenience.

Speaking of Psychology: The invisibility of white privilege with Brian Lowery, PhD Episode 110 — The invisibility of white privilege
The protests against racial injustice that have made headlines over the past month may be prompting some white Americans to consider—perhaps for the first time—the advantages they've benefited from all their lives. Brian Lowery, PhD, a senior associate dean at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, studies the psychology of racial privilege in the United States. He discusses the factors that drive many white Americans to ignore and even deny that white privilege exists, and what he believes needs to be done to combat racial injustice.  

Podcast produced by the American Psychological Association

Full transcript and additional details available at the link

EDITORIAL: What I Said When My White Friend Asked for My Black Opinion on White Privilege

The words "Got Privilege" white text on black background


An editorial by Lori Lakin Hutcherson, GBN Editor-in-Chief, where she responds to a question that she was tagged in by a friend on facebook. "My white friend asked me to explain white privilege, so I decided to be honest. He wanted to know how institutional racism has made an impact on my life. I’m glad he asked, because I was ready to answer."

Tim Wise

The above clip is from "The Pathology of Privilege Racism, White Denial & the Costs of Inequality" The author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son offers a unique, inside-out view of race and racism in America. Wise provides a non-confrontational explanation of white privilege and the damage it does not only to people of color, but to white people as well. An introduction to the social construction of racial identities, and a critical new tool for exploring the often invoked - but seldom explained - concept of white privilege.

The full film is below. You will need to log in with your mynorthshore credentials. 

A Privilege Walk

A privilege walk is a community development exercise that can help participants develop awareness of themselves, which can improve how they relate to others. In this way, it invites people to think about ways inclusivity can create positive changes in their organizations based on the work of Peggy McClintock's "Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." This is a high-risk activity that should only be facilitated with groups that have developed a level of trust and where everyone understands the premise and goals before starting the activity. There is some controversy surrounding the impact of privilege walks.  Privilege walks have been criticized for being most beneficial to straight, white, able-bodied men, since it is supposed that they learn the most and that more marginalized participants are made more vulnerable. Newer iterations of the activity have been designed to include extensive introductory lessons and processing question, as well as including a more diverse array of statements in the walk itself.