Thursday, April 24, 2008

This essay is still around. . .and if you follow the link at the end of the essay, there will be two more discussing the same essay.

A friend is trying to set up a lunch with me and Peggy McIntosh but I will be in the Philippines when she comes to town. Peggy's essay (1988) is one of the first to bring attention to the concept of white privilege. I've used this essay many times and I have also published an essay on teaching about whiteness when you're not white.

At a recent diversity workshop, panelists talked about the need for people to develop cultural competence. The latter usually refers to the understanding of the experiences of "others" -- which is all good and necessary. But I think the work is only half-done if those who are privileged by dominant categories in US society do not also begin to do their own work of deconstructing the privileges they take for granted. What is the social mortgage that has to be paid by "others" who often remain invisible and silent? What is the cost to the privileged person?

Often my privileged students believe that their wish for "others" to have the same privileges they enjoy is enough. Is it?

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