Forms of Privilege

White privilege means that even though your life may not be easy, the color of your skin does not provide additional obstacles to your success.

Because privilege is often invisible to those who have it, here’s a handy list of some of the ways white privilege may operate – in society, and yes, in your life too. Keep in mind that intersectionality is also at play here. That means that your gender or sexual identity, your class, and your physical ability and embodiment may also interact with your racial identity to impart the way these privileges operate in your life. 

Economic privilege is the ability to build generational wealth and to easily access the basic requirements of life: food, housing, clothing, and so forth, as well as luxuries such as private transportation, rest from labor, and decent health care.

Spatial privilege is the ability to move through space safely, without fear of violence perpetrated on your body by individuals or the state.

Educational privilege is the ability to feel certain that public education will meet your needs and not prohibit you from obtaining a quality education through educational geographical gerrymandering, instructor or administrative bias, or the school-to-prison pipeline. It is the ability to know that any disabilities or struggles you have in school will receive medical or curative interventions rather than criminal or punitive interventions. 

Intellectual privilege is the ability to be recognized for your intellectual accomplishments and not erased from the public narrative. In school and in the workplace, your intellect is never questioned. Additionally, recognition for your accomplishments is not relegated to a single month of the year or a special table in the back for “white authors.” Rather, your ideas are celebrated for their own right, alongside any other ideas of equal import. 

Historical privilege is the ability to see members of your race accurately represented in history books and given credit for their contributions to society. The impact of social policies on your racial, ethnic, or gender group is portrayed appropriately. Your cultural practices throughout history are not diminished, considered “primitive” or less advanced.

Generational privilege is the ability to search for your roots and actually find them. It is the ability to know who your ancestors were.

Bodily privilege is the ability to move through society free from the judgment that your body’s natural state does not meet a certain standard, and from people claiming some sort of ownership and the right to touch you.

As white people, once we understand the different types of privilege we enjoy, we can fight for the right to these privileges for others. 

From “Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice” by Kerry Connelly – Westminster John Knox Press

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