I recently discovered McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack for the very first time. I have no idea how I didn’t stumble across it sooner, but it’s brilliant! The statements are so good at provoking the empathy – and in fact the imagination, as outlined in a recent On Being episode – that is necessary in understanding our existing prejudices and cognitive biases and working past them. Statements such as ‘I can choose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more less match my skin’ or ‘I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented’ almost seem to jump you out of reality. There’s a jolt as you read it and think ‘huh, that’s always been my experience… which means it’s very much not been the case for 14% of the UK population and 40% of London’s population.
Her point that ‘I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group’ brings the power hierarchies into stark relief and reminds you how much all of us are a part of the status quo. We all need to do more to fight that, to include and to self-include.