Monday, April 2, 2012

He's so haole he doesn't even know he's haole

For Monday morning, in the context of Peggy McIntosh's article, consider your own knapsack.  In what different settings of your life do you have advantages and disadvantages?  To what degrees are they unspoken, unacknowledged?  What might you do to level the playing field?  Is it possible to increase the power and privilege of one group without a reciprocal lessening of the advantaged group?  In addition to your comments, please extract and post one knowledge question from the article.  Here's the source of this week's title: a clip from North Shore.


  1. I believe that almost every one of the things in Peggy McInthosh's knapsack were true. In my own personal knapsack, I have many more disadvantages than I do advantages. Although I am not black, and can go anywhere and get a haircut (for example), I clearly am nonetheless a person of color- a female person of color. Some disadvantages are that I do not get as many opportunites education, and career wise, I can count on feeling out of place sometimes because of my skin color, I can be asked to speak for my racial group, my ancestors were slaves so they cannot account for making "civilization" as it is today, I cannot find foods from my culture in the grocery store, not many know or understand of my culture and traditions, and I was raised differently from most children of other races. The advantages are that I am considered "exotic" (haha) and many people are interested in learning about my culture, I can stand out and take being different as a good thing, I have a broad understanding of many different cultures and traditions, there are programs that give special opportunites out there for people of color, and I can relate to a more diverse range of people. To be honest, I never really gave much thought to the advantages of being a person of color. Throughout my life, I always heard the downside of being a person of color, although I did hear the up side on occassion from family and friends who were also brown. Of course there are certain parts that go unspoken about being a different race, as to not offend another person- like knowing that white people are generally more trusted by other white people (the same with many races), but it goes acknowledged. To me, although race does play a huge part in society, when it comes to interactions, it shouldn't be a factor (even though it is sometimes). To level the playing field, I think that with jobs and schools, for instance, there should not even be the section to check what race the person is. What matters is the person's qualifications, not skin color. I do not believe that there is a way to increase the power and privilege o one group without a reciprocal lessoning of the advantaged group because society is pretty stubborn. If one group is given more power, the other group will not seem as strong, they will just level out to seem a little more equal.
    My knowledge question is To what extent does race affect interaction and experience?

  2. I think that Peggy McInthosh's article is totally true, and also "4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed." terrified me.
    The thing that I thought immediately after I read the article is that, the same thing goes to different countries in the same way; in Asia, there are some radical racist group that are against white people and the same things happen to white people. There are several times that me and my family have to experience the racial discrimination and it is true that same thing actually happened every where, and it become quiet dangerous to be in places that when your race is different from everybody else, because our appearance are obviously not the same, so it is very easy to become a target.

    KQ: How can one be different but still the same at the same time?

  3. In my opinion, Peggy McIntosh's knapsack was pretty accurate, with a few exceptions for example number three, "I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me." Other than that, many of these items she talked about were true, and I had not realized that I am at a disadvantage. However, just this weekend, I discovered an advantage in my knapsack...I was put into a group of about 40 girls, and I was the only person who was African American. This gave me an advantage because almost everyone remembered my name, because I did not look like anyone else there. It was weird, but I now look at this as an advantage. At this moment, I do not think I have many other advantages. However, I have physical advantages, such as a unique skin tone and hair texture. Also, I feel like I have grown up embracing American/Portuguese culture and Haitian culture while also gives me an advantage because I do not make assumptions about people based on their skin color. I believe my disadvantages are that I am commonly labeled 'black'. Yes, I am black, but that's not only what I am. So, there have been many instances where I could disagree with Peggy McIntosh's entire list.
    I feel like many of these advantages/disadvantages are unspoken, but acknowledged unconsciously, because now that I'm writing about my advantages, I never really spoke about them, I just knew they were there. To level the playing field, I do not think there should be a box to check off your race on standardized tests such as the SAT. I feel that ones achievement should not be based on their race. I'm not sure if it is possible to increase the power and privilege of one group with out the advantaged groups power lessening. I do not believe the system of giving more power will work, but possibly make both groups aware of these advantages and disadvantages.
    So my knowledge question/issue: To what extent can differences between individuals help a society grow?

  4. Peggy McIntosh's article on white privileges is simply fascinating! I really liked and admire how she starts off by clearly explaining that, just like male privileges, the white privilege system is something society has made it seem to be and appear as very normal. So we understand that the white race has unearned privileges and advantages over all the other races; and that sadly enough society has and will always teach the privileged ones to regard this as a normal condition.
    What really captured my attention was condition number 15. "I am never asked to speak for all the people in my racial group". I could mostly relate to this because of how much I need to go through this on a daily basis. When coming to a country where I became a minority instead of a majority I not only had to carry and represent my country but also live with the fear that if I mess up, I will be letting down my country, my race, and my nation. But on the other hand, I know that a white person does not have to deal with this burden on a daily basis.
    KI: To what extend does society influence personal belief?

  5. As many of my peers stated previously, Peggy McIntosh’s article did not seem dated or overdone, it appeared highly accurate. Although it did not speak of my race in particular, I honestly related to this article. Not because I have advantages because of the color of my skin, but because I am disadvantaged due to the color of my skin. These disadvantages do not solely originate from the color of my skin but also because of my last name. On the other hand, I cannot say that I am fully disadvantaged. I go to an established prep school, keep up decent grades, have clothes on my back and have many friends. I have these advantages because my father has worked hard to make it happen. But I am talking about outside of Stoneleigh Burnham, in the outside world. Where people look at me differently when I travel because I am slightly darker, or have a slightly larger looking nose, or even a different last name (if they get close enough to ask). People don’t admit to racial profiling or racism anymore, it’s illegal, but it’s there nonetheless. It’s called a ‘random check’ but really they are just choosing the one’s they feel threatened by. By that I mean: in an airport- I can be sure that they will pull me aside for a ‘random search.’ In situations such as these there is nothing I can do. But in other areas, such as work, I just make sure to demonstrate my knowledge. I know what I am good at, and I know what I enjoy. Therefore, in life I will always make sure to go after things that I know I am good at. By using my determination, and possible resources, I am therefore able to slightly even the playing field- but barely. I personally don’t think that all racial groups will ever be equally privileged. That is not to say that it isn’t possible, but I think there will always be a slight difference; people will never fully embrace each other’s differences.
    My knowledge question: To what extent does one’s differences (slight or large) either limit their opportunities or allow their lives to flourish?

  6. Reading Peggy McIntosh's article really opened my eyes to the fact that the advantages and disadvantages of certain races have never been discussed (or written down in an entire article). Like the author, I can say that all of these questions pretty much apply to me. So I am an advantaged person. But I am also a white women. I know that in my life time I will run into unequal treatment, especially in the working world. Today, many women are still payed less than men, and certain GOP candidates (wink wink, nudge, nudge) are not aware of the true hardships that we are facing today. They still think that we only care about gas prices and food prices to get food on the table for the kids! Unbelievable! But I digress.
    I believe that the advantages and disadvantages are very much unspoken. It is known, yet it is not acknowledged enough. In terms of leveling the playing field, I agree with Alysha. I also believe that someone's achievement should be based on who they are and not their race. The same should apply to women and men. If we want our society to be truly equal we have to start making changes. So I do believe that it is possible to increase the power and privilege of one group without a reciprocal lessening of the advantaged group. There needs to be a spread of awareness (like what Alysha said). People need to know that this is an issue that needs to be resolved right now. We need to make the 21st century, a time filled with peace and equal opportunity. It shouldn't matter if your black or white, male or female. Instead, we all need to be part of the human race.

    KI:To what extent does race affect your self perception?

  7. As an opening comment, I found this piece absolutely fascinating and it expressed things clearly that had been fuzzily present in my mind since last week's article. I'm a bit shocked by it, I must say. I didn't want to accept it as I was reading it, but the author took care to be thorough and I found it accurate and undeniable. Part of my unwillingness stemmed from the fact that I am privileged with the all the contents of the knapsack listed in the article. I think sometimes about this, but not with any articulateness. This is due to the fact that (I hesitate saying 'all,' but I will) all the advantages mentioned are not often, if ever, discussed, at least by me and the people with whom I interact, and I'd like to believe also because for a large part of my life I've been in communities that were accustomed to being diverse.
    I must, however, reflect a bit on my life and community in Germany, because I tend to forget to consider it in an American setting. The communities in which I move in Germany - school, village, city - are noticeably homogenous. I forget this because I am like everyone else in appearance. The disadvantages I experience there have nothing to do with my race but with the location(s) of my home and the cultural aspects of life in (__________) that I miss by living in (_________) part-time. I cannot even discuss the disadvantages of being different in those communities from an observational standpoint, because I only know two non-white people from all those communities, and they were both born in Germany. In conclusion, my race has been nothing but an advantage to me in all communities I live in, and as far as I can see (which, who knows, may not be so far).
    I mentioned before the diversity and comfort of the communities I experience; they (or the people that make them up) seem to level the playing field quite a lot, though I don't know how this could or did come about. I suppose - and have in part observed - that the most important thing is awareness. Knowledge is power! No, really. I suspect this article and the last will stick with me for a long time, and, as with anything interesting or thought-provoking to which one is exposed, I daresay I will begin to notice a lot more of these things. This is in my opinion the most important step to take in leveling the playing field. After all, the problems of prejudice and stereotyping come in large part from ignorance and fear. Educating oneself, keeping an open mind, and being acutely aware of one's own innate advantages and disadvantages as compared to others' are the most powerful leveling tools. And yes, I believe it is possible to live in a state of general equality and acceptance, though this is a mere theory, seeing as racism to a certain extent is present in essentially everyone today. I believe this because everyone IS equal and deserves these things; it only takes an environment conducive to seeing and knowing this fully to create equality.
    KI: Can one remove one's self or identity from the knowledge one possesses?

  8. When I think of my advantages, I don't really think I'm lucky for them. For instance, one advantage that I have is my diversity when it comes to applying for college. Thats all most of my friends in college ever tell me. Of course, I can look at it and say, "Hey Im getting into college without a doubt!" But at the same time, I find it upsetting that this would be my final hope in getting into a college that might not like my test scores. Its basically the cherry on top. Other than that, I have nothing else to be content with beside the plain fact that I am the way I am. My advantages will never outweigh my disadvantages in this world, I must say. Whether its blatant racisms at stop and shop, or extensive checks at the airport, I'm facing heavy disadvantages for being the way I am. Both sides are clearly adressed. Some people tell us not to complain about college, because its only the black folk that get into college easily, apparently. As for disadvantages, they do not need to be spoken of in order for people to be aware of them. The media exploits African Americans enough. As for Muslims, 9/11 really did heighten the tension. I really cannot think of anything that would level the playing field for African Americans besides earn a great education and prove myself to the rest of the world. Even with accomplishing that, it won't be as obvious as the color of my skin. Adding power means taking some from somewhere else. that being said, theres no way that the playing field can be leveled.

    My knowledge question: To what extent does emotion portray one's understandings and interpretations of fact?

  9. I found McIntosh's article incredibly interesting. The only point I had really ever consciously thought about was the Band-Aid point- I have thought about how unfair the skin-toned bandages are many times. I consider my race to be an advantage. I am a white American who comes from a middle-class family. I attend a great high school that I love with teachers who really care about what they are doing and peers that clearly care about their education- it can easily be seen/ read in the posts above. I also see my race as being a disadvantage- almost countering what both Nafisatou and Alysha brought up. Being white, especially in the area I live in, I never stick out. I am just another face exactly like any other white person. One way to level the playing field would be for everyone to just embrace who they are as individuals and then accept everyone else for whoever they are. The problem with that idea though is that there are people, unfortunately, who do not want equality whether it be for races, genders, or sexualities. I think it takes a specific circumstance for one group getting more power to not take it away for others. In some cases, I think it would cause more competition and therefore, the reward of succeeding would be higher but in others, there is no way to increase with out a decrease.

    KI: Who is to decide how others should perceive themselves?

  10. The article written by Peggy McIntosh took down a wall that I have been building for a longtime. Being a black young lady of the Islamic religion from Africa puts me at a great disadvantage. Growing up in Cote d’Ivoire, around people of my kind helped because I did not have to think about race or religious superiority. I knew that there was other races out there and that some just happened to have advantages over me but because I was content with my surrounding that I did not care. It is my time in America that opened my eyes to social advantages and disadvantages. Leaving in Harlem is one of the toughest things I had to account. Since the majority of people in Harlem are black, I did not face disadvantages in race but in ethnicity and religion. The majority of people in Harlem are born in the American culture and so were their parents. These same people were either Christians or did not have a religion. Living in this community, I was teased and was confused for the reasons. My teachers refused to believe that I was smart until 6th grade and even then, it seemed the only thing I could be good at was math. I still face disadvantages today but refuse to acknowledge. I find it that people don’t like to people wrong and doing the opposite of what they expect of me makes me great. I know that many people, who treated me a certain way because of these disadvantages, did it unconsciously and I don’t blame them. I would know if it is possible to increase the power and privilege of one group without lessening the advantage group but I do know that more needs to be done to help the disadvantage.

    KI: To what extent does experience affect knowledge?

  11. In my own life I do have the advantage of living in an area where most people look like me and come from a common area in the world. Besides that I can’t think of any advantages. Disadvantage of being who I am is racism, and I don’t face this too much when I’m at home beside with the police, but mostly when I’m in areas where there aren’t that many people who look like me. I haven’t been to many places like this, but let’s use Greenfield, Mass as an example. I’ve been followed in a store before, now that I actually think about it, and I found it very funny. One day I was out and was randomly at Home Depot and there was this White lady and her baby. We were walking past each other while she was with her friend and I kind of said to myself, but out loud, “Aww she’s cute” and the lady made this face and rolled her eyes and made this disturbed noise. Now, I hoped at first she made that noise because she heard that a lot, but then I thought about it, probably not. Same day, but earlier, I went out to eat with a group of friends, not everyone was Black but the majority, and we had food thrown at us. Seriously. These kind of things happen, and they’re not unheard of it’s just that people, or just me (LoLa), don’t know how to respond to these types of situations. If there’s a way to level the playing field well then let me know, because I’m unsure. I heard a comment that, funny enough, Black people get into college easily. That was something to laugh at. I though well know that’s not true; it’s not easier. Some college do want to add to their diversity, but that’s just a case of the school using people for numbers, which I feel is common, while the people figure out how to use the school with opportunities offered. It’s common sense to know that in order for there to be balance where something has and upper hand like 60%- 40% the 60% needs to come down to 50%, so 40% can become 50% as well. Now if there is another way to increase privilege without lessening another group, please feel free to share, because it is also unclear.

    KI: To what extent can the perceptions of common knowledge influence others’ beliefs?


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