Taking a personal perspective and/or look into to what privilege or white privilege is and/or means and how it relates to others of different ethnic and racial backgrounds. Seeing the relation to what racial preference (privilege) is and how excerpts of an article written by Tim Wise portrays in a factual and/or opinion based format of how certain advantages vary in ways such as education, housing, and income between those of different ethnic and racial backgrounds who live(d) within the United States. An analogy of a fish in water is used to describe what privilege means and how those who are and/or seen as being may and/or do take it for granted. Keywords: Priviledge, white privilege, ethnicity, race, discrimination, prejudice, racism.
Our text Sociology (2014) states,
Discriminatory practices continue to pervade nearly all areas of life in the United States today. In part, that is because various individuals and groups actually benefit from racial and ethnic discrimination in terms of money, status, and influence. Discrimination permits members of the majority to enhance their wealth, power, and presitge at the expense of others. Less qualified people get jobs and promotions simply because they are members of the dominant group. Such individuals and groups will not surrender these advantages easily. (p. 245)
Turn on the TV or flip open a laptop to find many ongoing or breaking news stories that relate to discrimination, prejudice, and/or racism. Our text defines discrimination as being “the denial of opportunities and equal rights to individuals and groups because of prejudice or other arbituary reason” (Schaefer, 2014, p. 240). Prejudice is defined as “ a negative attitude toward an entire categoryof people, often ethnic or racial minority” (Schaefer, 2014, p. 240). Racism is defined as “the belief that one race is supreme and all others are innately inferior” (Schaefer, 2014, p. 240). What creates a society that is so racially charged? How or even who determines one group the majority over the other?
Throughout our United States history, there has been so many instances where one group (primarily and more often times than not, Whites) has been more dominant and/or more privileged than the other(s). According to the article entitled Understanding Culture (2005), We develop our individual and cultural identity as we define ourselves in relation to our environments, in our relationships with others, and in our participation in groups. We explore alternatives, make choices, and decide what we believe in, based on the experiences we have and our interactions with others. Thus, our identities are often a combination of the beliefs, values, and experiences we have been exposed to and shared with others. (p.14)
Reflecting back on my childhood, I would consider myself to be a part of the dominant group as it would relate to privilege or “white privilege—rights or immunities granted to people as a particular benefit or favor simply because they are White” (Schaefer, 2014, p. 243). I grew-up on the outskirts of Indianapolis, on a quiet street in a ranch style home, and I was the majority. Meaning, I was an English speaking, Caucasian child who had two parents living in the home who worked very hard to provide appropriate food, clothing, shelter, and other material and emotional necessities in order to have a ‘normal’ childhood. According to the article Whites Swim in Racial Preference, “White families, on average, have a net worth that is 11 times the net worth of black families… and this gap remains substancial even when only comparing families of like size, composition, education and income status” (Wise, 2003, p, 1-2).
The schools that I attended were all within the Perry Township area. I went to Mary Bryan Elementary, Keystone Middle, and graduated from Southport High School in 1998. From what I recall from my earlier grades, the other students that I attended school with were predominately like me; English speaking, Caucasian, and came from two-parent households. There were only a couple of other cultural groups represented, like Asians or African-Americans; in which they were scattered throughout the classrooms and some days, you would not even know they were there because you would not see them. Upon entering middle and high school, that is when more of the same representations of cultural groups became more noticeable or prevalent in the classrooms and throughout the school but still they would have been considered the minority group(s). The article states, “Because of intense racial isolation, students of color will rarely attend the “best” schools, and on average, schools serving mostly black and Latino students offer only a third as many AP and honors courses as schools serving mostly whites” (Wise, 2003, p. 3).
Looking back at my childhood, being English speaking and Caucasian, where I grew-up and RACIAL PREFERENCE 5 what I was provided by my parents and other family members, I believe being privileged and a part of a dominant group has affected my life inadvertently in a positive way. Meaning, I was extremely lucky to be afforded the family and lifestyle I was given. I never had to want for anything growing up, given a second glance when walking into a department store, or struggle with trying to communicate with others who did not speak my language. Life always seemed to be easy, fun, and carefree and if issues or problems did arise, they were quickly resolved and without any adverse effect. So what does this all say about me? The article (2003) states,
The ability to believe that being black would have made no difference, and that being white has made no positive difference, is rooted in privilege itself: the privilege that allows one to not have to think about race on a daily basis; to not have one’s intelligence questioned by best-selling books; to not have to worry about being viewed as a “out of place” when driving, shopping buying a home… (p. 4)
I do not feel that under any circumstance that I am prejudice; however, does me being privileged more than someone of another ethnicity or race becaue I am White make it so because I have not made a point to think and/or recoginze on a daily basis the differences of what it really means? Honestly, I can see how others of a different ethnicity or race may view and/or feel that Whites take what they have for granted given the past as well as the present. The article (2003) states (and I agree), We strike the pose of self-sufficiency while ignoring the advantages we have been afforded in every realm of activity: housing, education, employment, criminal justice, politics, banking and business. We ignore the fact that at almost every turn, our hard work has been met with access to an opportunity structure denied to millions of others. Privilege, to us, is like water to the fish: invisible precisely because we cannot imagine life without it. (p. 2)
Schaefer. (2014). Sociology: 13th Edition. United States: McGraw-Hill.
Wise, T. (2003). Whites Swim in Racial Preference. Alternet (http://www.alternet.org).
Zion, S. & Fulton, M. (2005). Understanding Culture. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.