If you aren’t reading the brilliant and insightful blog doorknockers — go catch up. I was struck this morning by Kristia’s essay inviting a deeper understanding of the go-to-tool-for-reflection Peggy McIntosh’s essay “Unpacking the backpack of white privilege.” This article has been THE explanation of injustice to people with power for like 20 years. And it doesn’t really get at the full power of language and inequality.
I’ve always felt like McIntosh points to a kind of Annunciation frame of justice. If a person with power can announce that they know how they are privileged then they’re off the hook. Thanks to Doorknockers for some broadening of this discussion.
It should be clear by now that this is not at all intended as a bashing of Peggy McIntosh, but it is very much a critique of academics and schools that maintain at best a lightweight analysis of power. They do this primarily by letting one article by one White woman dominate conversations about privilege, as opposed to hosting a larger, deeper analysis of systems of power in our society. They do this by keeping the numbers of brown-skinned faculty and students low. They do this by rewarding brown-skinned students who agree to shut up in racist, heterosexist classes. They do this by not teaching about privilege, power, and oppression through the very writing, oratory, panel interviews, and reflection of parents and children who work minimum-wage, who are of color, who are political and religious minorities.