EDMONTON – Controversy is brewing over a city-sponsored anti-racism campaign that calls on Caucasians to recognize their “white privilege”.
Edmonton, Alberta deserves a lot of credit for bringing up white privilege in an anti-racism campaign, since bringing up white privilege tends to make you politically unpopular. (Sadly, it is unlikely that anything like this would happen in Toronto any time soon.)
Here is the text of the controversial webpage, What can you do to stop racism?:
What can you do to stop racism?
Acknowledge your white privilege.
White privilege refers to all the benefits we get just for being white. Most of us are aware of how racism hurts others, but we’re not aware of how it benefits us.
“I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” Dr. Dr. Peggy McIntosh, is associate director of the Wellesley Collage Center for Research on Women.
Most of us have little awareness of our white privilege. We ‘re so used to having the benefits that come with being white that we don’t even realize we have them. We also aren’t aware of our privilege because the system has encouraged us not to be aware.
Most of us are aware of how racism hurts others, but we’re not aware of how it benefits us. Without acknowledging the privilege we hold, we can’t truly begin to understand the experience of people of color.
The first step to stopping racism is to acknowledge that the deck is heavily stacked in our favour.
Most of the time, when we talk about racism we are talking about institutional racism, a system of privilege based on race that “pervades, permeates, and interconnects all major social groups, networks, and institutions across that reinforce racist hierarchies.”
Both of these forms of racism are often committed UNCONSCIOUSLY by people WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.
Racial “whiteness” is many things, but one of its consistent qualities is power. As people granted unearned privileges by our own whiteness, and as people who have likely harmed non-white people with our own whiteness, it’s our moral and ethical duty to find ways to combat racism.
Racism is real. Denying that racism exists perpetuates racism.
* Based on White Privilege by Dr. Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Peggy McIntosh is also founder and co-director of the United States S.E.E.D. Project on Inclusive Curriculum (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity). Her 1989 article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” has been instrumental in putting the dimension of privilege into discussions of gender, race and sexuality in the United States.
Hat-tip to AfroCan.