An Analysis of Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”
Peggy McIntosh’s essay “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” basically serves as an eye-opener to the seemingly unnoticed reality of white privilege that Americans who belong to the white race enjoy. In general, racism and discrimination has been an old-age issue in America despite the fact that slavery, segregation, and other racist actions have been outlawed for many years. However, McIntosh, in her essay, explains that each and every American belonging to the white race possess a special kind of privilege which enables them to hold various advantages in every day, be it at work, in a neighborhood, or in a store, among many others.
Most of all, she also emphasized that this white privilege has remained unacknowledged and unrecognized by white Americans. Discussion The author first raised a very important issue before expounding on white privilege. She first raised an issue of gender, male privilege, which like white privilege, goes unacknowledged by men. According to her, while men believe that they work for the benefit of women, they do not like the idea of lessening their power or privileges which is why they refuse to acknowledge that such as a privilege exists. The same applies to white privilege.
Basically, since the supposed end of slavery, racism, and discrimination decades ago, members of the white American race claim that they work for better cooperation with people who belong to other cultures and races but yet they refuse to lessen their advantages or privileges. As a result, white privilege, as far as American whites are concerned, does not exist because it will mean a comparison between races and cultures, and ultimately, lead to equalizing of privileges among all races, which white Americans either do not want to do or refuse to do.
Moreover, as the title of the essay implies, the author likened white privilege to an invisible knapsack. By definition, a knapsack is sturdy back designed for carrying different supplies to be used in times of need. According to her, white Americans are always carrying with them a weightless and unseen knapsack that contains special maps, passports, visas, blank checks, and other provisions that they use instantaneously yet unconsciously in a variety of life situations.
As mentioned by McIntosh, since she herself is white, she highlighted certain instances in which she unconsciously used the invisible knapsack or the white privilege. For example, she mentioned that she can be very sure that her neighbors in a location will be either neutral or pleasant to her. She also claimed that she can open the front page of the newspaper or turn on the television and see that her white race is widely represented by celebrities or politicians.
Most of all, she stressed that she can exhibit negative behavior and no one will associate it with the color of her skin or her race. In general, a lot of people who belong to minority groups, such as the African- Americans, can relate to the examples presented above which is why her essay serves as an effective eye-opener to many white Americans. It is also true that these white privileges are not earned and are not based on a person’s merits but rather passed down by virtue of her race and skin color.
However, she claimed that disapproving or criticizing such a system of unfair privileges will not be enough to change it. She emphasized that white Americans need to first acknowledge that such an invisible system exists before any kind of change is initiated. Conclusion Over-all, McIntosh’s essay speaks volumes of realities that, unfortunately, many white Americans do not acknowledge. It is evident in society that they enjoy an invisible privilege every day, and in one way or another, still results in racism and discrimination that they claim to be fighting against for many years.For any change to come, they must first realize and believe that such an unseen system exists and then completely restructure it.
McIntosh, P. (2009). Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. New York Model for Batterer Programs. com. Retrieved June 25, 2009 from http://74. 6. 146. 127/search/cache? ei=UTF-8&p=unpacking+the+invisible+knapsack&sado=1&rd=r1&meta=vc%3Dph&fr=yfp-t-501&fp_ip=PH&u=www. nymbp. org/reference/WhitePrivilege. pdf&w=unpacking+unpack+invisible+knapsack&d=QJT-ShlMTBIX&icp=1&. intl=us.Sample Essay of AssignmentExpert.com