White Privilege in American Society

Topics: White American, Race and Ethnicity, Racism Pages: 3 (915 words) Published: February 17, 2007
"Privilege is the greatest enemy of equality." This quote from a noted Austrian novelist, Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach, perhaps describes the harm of "white privilege" on American society. By its very definition privilege is a grace bestowed on one over another (Webster, 2006). In that sense, privilege is in and of itself an opposition to equality. In racial terms, if one group has been historically privileged over another, there will never be equality between the groups until a catastrophic new beginning can occur removing all trace of the bestowed privilege. White American privilege is the result of a country developing around a racially charged society featuring whites on top. Since the inception of colonial America, Whites heeded themselves as the superior race. This is seen evident through the submission and elimination of the Native Americans as well as most directly in the institution of slavery. As the "nation of riches" began to develop, and the American Dream came into fruition, nonwhites were left out of any chance to profit. Skip ahead to present day and we see a nation that has made drastic leaps toward social equality between races, but still struggles with remnants of the past. Simply put, white privilege is the social advantage given to whites through wealth and power that nonwhites never had the opportunity to earn. Despite all of society's strides toward racial equality, how do you equalize the advantages one group has had over another? The most obvious advantage today is that of wealth. White Americans have had greater opportunity for previous generations to accumulate and pass on wealth to today's members, whereas nonwhite Americans were historically denied the opportunity to do so. Specific cases include the subjugation of a race with Native Americans, the enslavement of race as seen with Black Americans, and the fleecing of a race as seen with Japanese Americans. However, perhaps most prevalent, but certainly not obvious is the...

Cited: Webster. Webster 's Dictionary. 2006
McIntosh, P. "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack". Peace and Freedom. July 1989.
Maharidge, D. The Coming White Minority. Random House Inc, 1996.
Bonilla-Silva, E. "Racialized Social System Approach to Racism," in Gallagher, Charles. Rethinking the Color Line: Readings in Race and Ethnicity. 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.
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