My Experience with White Privilege
October 14, 2008
How America came about is fascinating, and learning about immigration, rights, laws, and racism makes learning more beneficial. It helps you to understand why we, as a nation, are they way we are today, and why we will continue to be stuck in our ways. According to James Barrett and David Roediger, “The Story of Americanization is vital and compelling, but it took place in a nation also obsessed by race…the process of “becoming white” and “becoming American” were connected at every turn (36).” One of the most controversial topics is white privilege and discrimination. Segregation within school systems has been a dominant problem in the past and will always continue to be. Being privileged is a something that individuals should be conscious of due to their past and understand that it is a privilege to be white rather than to be discriminated against. Becoming conscious of one’s own white privilege is the first step to understand the deeper meaning of racism and discrimination. My intentions of writing this paper were to describe a situation in which I was conscious of my own white privilege. White privilege was always on my side until high school where I felt as though I was discriminated against as being a petite, white girl, from upper-class Allendale leaving me to been seen as an easy target. While at my locker one day during lunch, I was approached by two of the black students (one male and one female) and a Latino girl, and they tried to convince me something hurtful was written about me in the bathroom. Being that I am not the type to care, get involved, or respond, I turned to walk away. The Latino girl proceeded to grab my hair causing me to turn and face her and she punched me square in the face. After several minutes of back and forth wrestling and punches, the fight was broken up my teachers. It turns out that there was nothing written about me, they were just trying to get me into the bathroom to fight me, opposed to the hallway which is out in the open. All three of the students that were there were taken to the principal’s office immediately and suspended for two days whereas I got off free and I was allowed to go back to my day. During the duration of the day, one of the African American men left the principal’s office in rage and had a mission to destroy all my belongings in my locker. The boy pried open my locked and poured a bottle of soda all over my books, note books and belongings. After I reported this to our principal, he held the three students involved in the fight until one person came clean about who had been at fault for ruining my locker. It turned out, that no one admitted to it, and they were all suspended even longer than originally for not fessing up. The following week, none of the three students attended my high school anymore and I was told by my principal that they left to attend other high schools in surrounding towns. After this incident, I have never come into contact with any of them ever again. However, several of my male friends found out what happened that day and wanted nothing but to get revenge and retaliate against them and show them who runs the high school, being that whites are minority. I became very conscious of my white privilege growing up in a one-square mile suburban town of Allendale, New Jersey. My entire educational career through eighth grade consisted of white, middle-to-upper-class Americans. All the people were similar, with the same morals, values and beliefs. Everyone dressed similar and drove similar cars, partook in the same activities and hung out in specific niches. At this point in my life, I could say I could correlate my life to Peggy McIntosh’s article when she describes the matrix of white privilege; There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turf, and I was among those who could the turf. I could measure up to the cultural standards and take advantage...
Cited: Barrett, James E., and David Roediger. 2005. How White People Became White. Pg. 35-40 in White Privilege: Essential Reading on the Other Side of Racism, 2nd Ed., Paula S. Rothenberg, Ed. New York: Worth Publishers.
Glenn, Evelyn, Nakano. "Citizenship: Universalism and Exclusion." Pg. 18-55 in Unequal Freedom: How Race and Gender Shaped American Citizenship and Labor. Cambridge: Harvard.
Massey, Douglas S. "How Space Gets Raced." Rethinking the Color Line. By Charles A. Gallagher. 3rd Ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2007. 225.
McIntosh, Peggy. 1997 "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women 's Studies." Pg. 290-99 in Critical White Studies: Looking Behind the Mirror. Richard Delgado & Jean Stefancic, Eds. Philadephia: Temple University Press.
Takaki, Ronald T. A Different Mirror: A History of Multicultural America. New York, NY: Back Bay, 1994. 108.
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