White privilege is a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to all others. White privilege can exist without white people's conscious knowledge of its presence and it helps to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country. The biggest problem with white privilege is the invisibility it maintains to those who benefit from it most. The inability to recognize that many of the advantages whites hold are a direct result of the disadvantages of other people, contributes to the unwillingness of white people, even those who are not overtly racist, to recognize their part in maintaining and benefiting from white supremacy. White privilege is about not having to worry about being followed in a department store while shopping. It's about thinking that your clothes, manner of speech, and behavior in general, are racially neutral, when, in fact, they are white. It's seeing your image on television daily and knowing that you're being represented. It's people assuming that you lead a constructive life free from crime and off welfare. It's about not having to assume your daily interactions with people who have racial overtones. White privilege is having the freedom and luxury to fight racism one day and ignore it the next. White privilege exists on an individual, cultural, and institutional level. (2003)
Some people may be blind to it, but white privilege does exist; it is a fact of life. Media and the law play a vital role in society’s blindness to white privilege. In “Membership Has Its Privileges”, Tom Wise stated that long ago, James Baldwin said that being white meant that you never had to think about it. Whites have become so accustomed to the way that they live and the benefits that come along with being white, that it’s hard for them to understand how they are privileged; to them it’s normal.
Being an African American and also a young woman, there are a multitude of unearned disadvantages that have been placed before me, as Peggy McIntosh wrote about in her text, titled White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. In the text Peggy decrypted the meaning of earned and unearned power amongst whites, also in regards to male dominion over female. Though society may be more aware of male dominance, it too, is still a “blind topic” to some. In White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, McIntosh says, I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. 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. (p.32, para.3, 1988)
McIntosh then went on to explain forms of white privilege that she had been exposed to recently, some of those privileges included being able to walk into a facility without being harassed, while others were a bit more extreme, such as looking back on the development of civilization and being told that her race (whites) is the reason for it all.
There are some acts of white privilege that have been brought to my attention also. Singer Justin Bieber had allegedly been drinking and driving, marijuana was also involved, earning himself a DUI. Not only did Bieber get charged with a DUI, he was also charged for speeding and resisting arrest, according to CNN. Bieber had been let out on bail, only being charged with resisting arrest without violence. If Justin Bieber was a black male, it’s hard to believe that any of those