Sunday, September 21, 2014

Connections in Peggy McIntosh's "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack"

In Peggy McIntosh’s paper “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” she talks about the overlooked privilege of whites, as well as the power men have over woman and their inability to accept it. She really went into detail on the privileges she noticed on a day-to-day basis and compiled them into a list. As I went through it I felt that it really had relations to Delpit’s writings on women’s rights and the codes of power.
Peggy McIntosh

In her opening page she says, “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.” (1)To me this correlates with Delpits piece and how she talks about the codes and conducts of power. And how for white people they are given an unearned “power” that they overlook. In my opinion I interpreted McIntosh’s and Delpit’s readings as that people who are outside the “culture of power are not granted that knapsack of tools and could go unguided with no knowledge of this culture of power. This means that these people are at a disadvantage their entire lives.

In addition to Delpit’s reading, I found the piece to mesh well with Kozol’s piece from Amazing Grace, how he talks about the hospitals of Mott Heaven. And how she states in her list, “I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my race will not work against me.”(3) This to me represents that the hospital she goes to is in a suburb with mostly people of her race. And she will never have to worry about having to change bloody sheets before she seats herself like the people mentioned in Kozol’s piece. These are all examples of things that I believe back up and support McIntosh’s belief of unknowingly having privilege and a responsibility everyone has to realize it.

I decided to include a video of Peggy McIntosh giving a speech on the TED x youtube channel. She discusses how realizing power and privilege can strengthen our compassion:


  1. I liked the connection to Kozol's piece about the dirty hospitals because while reading McIntosh's piece I didn't really think of that. The video was perfect, it really tied everything together and it was amazing to see Peggy McIntosh talking about privilege firsthand.

  2. I also saw the connection between Delpit and McIntosh, but you put into words how they connected much better than I did. I also didn't make the connection to the hospitals in Mott Haven, so great job!