‘Growing up in abject poverty I still enjoyed white privilege’

‘Growing up in abject poverty I still enjoyed white privilege’

I came from the kind of poor that people don’t want to believe still exists in this country. Have you ever spent a frigid northern-Illinois winter without heat or running water? I have. At 12 years old were you making ramen noodles in a coffee maker with water you fetched from a public bathroom? I was. Have you ever lived in a camper year-round and used a random relative’s apartment as your mailing address? We did. Did you attend so many different elementary schools that you can only remember a quarter of their names? Welcome to my childhood.

So when [a] feminist told me I had “white privilege,” I told her that my white skin didn’t do sh*t to prevent me from experiencing poverty. Then, like any good, educated feminist would, she directed me to Peggy McIntosh’s now-famous 1988 piece “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

After one reads McIntosh’s powerful essay, it’s impossible to deny that being born with white skin in America affords people certain unearned privileges in life that people of other skin colors simply are not afforded. For example:

“I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.”…

“I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.”

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