White privilege. What’s that? Some people have choices and advantages simply because of the color of their skin. Many whites are unaware of it or if they are are quick to say, Hey, I’m cool and beyond that. Yeah, right. Peggy McIntosh, a noted women’s studies scholar in her classic essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” wrote: “I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.”
Michael Eric Dyson is University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University, teaching courses in theology, English, and African American studies. A dynamic speaker, he lectures widely. Among his many books are Know What I Mean?: Reflections on Hip-Hop, April 4, 1968: Martin Luther King’s Death and How it Changed America, The Black Presidency and Tears We Cannot Stop.