My Invisible Knapsack - A List of my Privileges

Here is a list of some of my privileges as a white, straight, cis, able-bodied, middle-class female, prompted by Peggy McIntosh's article "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack."

1. If I walk into a department or clothing store, I am not eyed with the expectation that I will try to steal something, because of my race.
2. If a police officer saw me walking alone at night, they would likely ask if I felt safe or needed an escort, rather than assuming I am "up to no good," because of both my race and gender.
3. Because I am cis and present as such, no one has ever asked me if I am sure if I am using the correct bathroom.
4. I do not have to go to a special aisle in the grocery store, or even a special ethnic grocery store, to find the foods I commonly want to eat.
5. I am able to pick and choose which of my family ancestries or nationalities to identify with, and without having others question that heritage based on my appearance.
6. Dealing with the police or other authorities of the law is not a precarious or tense situation for me based on my race or ethnicity.
7. I can assume most of the shampoo on the market will be tailored to my hair type.
8. There are not guides in beauty magazines about how to pick makeup colors that will match my skin, because it is the assumed norm.
9. I can dress in a bold or eccentric way or wear bright-colored makeup and have it be attributed to my personality rather than a characteristic of my race or culture.
10. Due to my family's socio-economic status, it was a given that I would go to college.
11. When I first got a job, it was for spending and saving money, not to help support my family's income.
12. I have a savings account, and am able to keep contributing to it even as a college student.
13. In the case of a several hundred dollar emergency, I have several resources to turn to, and I would not be left unable to pay my bills or buy groceries afterwards.
14. If I take the city bus, it is out of choice, not out of necessity.
15. If I tell people my clothes are from Ross or Goodwill, it is seen as "a good find" or "a great deal," rather than seen as a sign of low socio-economic status or being stingy.
16. I can hold hands with, hug, and kiss my partner in public without fear of disgust or violent retaliation.
17. Because I am able-bodied, I have never been unable to access a room or building or had to wait for special accommodation or transportation.
18. People do not assume that I am anti-American based on where I go to church.
19. In academia, it is easy to find people of my own race to network with.
20. If I misspeak or use poor grammar or slang, it is not attributed to a cultural or intellectual deficiency of my racial group.

     Many of the privileges I put in my list have to do with my socio-economic status, which is something I didn't think about much until I got to college. As a person who went to private school, I was always close to the bottom financially, but once I came to college it became immediately apparent just how good I have it. Yes, I have a job and am a student, but having a job does not make the difference between whether or not I am able to pay for college, and I also work part time. Many of my previous classmates have talked about how they need full time or even two jobs to make ends meet, which has made me think about my SES before, but this list really solidified for me what a good position I am in economically and financially.

      I didn't really come up with any "new" privileges for this list that I had never thought of before, but I did think about some of them more in depth than previously. For example, this semester I have had able-bodied privilege on the mind a lot, ever since it was mentioned in class how able-bodied people use resources such as elevators and large bathroom stalls that are intended for people with disabilities. I think these sorts of reflections are really important to make a privilege check every now and then and to find ways to actively work towards making the things on this list into common experience, rather than privileges only given to some people.



McIntosh, Peggy. (1988). "White Privilege- Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack." White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies. Wellesley, MA: Wellesly College.

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