Double Checking Your Privilege

by Austin Robson on October 21, 2016 - 3:59pm

White privilege is a very controversial topic in the world today that still remains up for debate and divides society into two parallel ways of thinking. White privilege can be seen as white people getting a sort of special treatment and an easier path to success than other minorities do. The article "White Privilege Needs to Own Up To Its Existence" by Lauren Messervey better exemplifies this with the example of Viola Davis and Nancy Lee Grahn. In Davis' acceptance speech at the Emmy's she mentioned the turbulence that African-American female actors face in Hollywood. Grahn took offence to this stating that in fact all women face hardships in Hollywood not just African-American's. The perfect example of white privilege.


Although we just recently begun our discussion on white privilege it as a topic that has been going around for a while now. The way the article connects to this topic is the blindness that some white people have to the struggles of others. Davis was just simply stating that there is a discrepancy between black and white actors in Hollywood and her speech actually went a long way to the acceptance of more black actors and actresses in Hollywood. Grahn, not being able to put herself in Davis' shoes, chose to play the victim and state that all actresses are discriminated against in the business (Hollywood's equivalent to All Lives Matter?). I don't believe this is explicit racism at all it's just the fact that the idea does make white people feel guilty and we try to make ourselves seen as oppressed as by Provider"> well.


White privilege is something I haven't always been aware of in my own personal life mainly because of  what I saw as a lack of evidence in a sense. However, looking back into my experiences you start to see where maybe I was treated differently because of my skin color. When I was younger with my friends we had a few issues with authority including one incident where the police got involved after we got caught egging houses (pretty tough right?). However, we tried to run away before they eventually caught us on a cul-de-sac. They didn't seem to mad and just gave us a warning and asked for a names. It does cross your mind and you wonder if the same thing would've occurred if we had been black. Would the officers had been that lenient or more harsher? It's something that as a white person I'll never know and we need to accept that we will never know the difficulties that people of different ethnicities go through. 


Works Cited


Messervey, L. (2016, September 22). White Privilege Needs to Own Up to Its Existence . Huffington Post. U.S. Retrieved from



I really liked your closing statement, those in positions of marginalization do have a lot to teach us. You're right, white privilege is a very controversial subject and is difficult to navigate, however things become even more complicated when intersectionality comes into play. Intersectionality is how different systems of inequality or oppression overlap. It demonstrates how different forms of discrimination reinforce and justify other forms. In terms of privilege, intersectionality complicates the situation as the effect of experiencing multiple systems of inequality is exponential, not summative, therefore, someone who is experiencing discrimination due to class and race for example, would have much less privilege than someone who isn’t. Take the example you gave of the “the turbulence that African-American female actors face in Hollywood”. What Grahn failed to realize was that, yes, all women in Hollywood do experience discrimination, but black women are at the intersection of race and gender, which means that these two system of oppression are actually reinforcing each other, which is why it is inaccurate for Grahn to compare the experience of white women in Hollywood to that of black women.
Here is an article by Kimberlé Crenshaw, the woman who coined intersectionality in 1989, which further discusses the issue of intersectionality.

I really liked how you related your own personal story to reinforce your argument. I agree that race is a key factor that allows certain people to navigate more easily than others, but I also believe that intersectionality plays a big part as well. This is when different systems of inequality, discrimination or even oppression overlap and reinforce each other such as race, sexual orientation, class, age, religion, or a physical disability. Yes it's true that when just comparing race, white people have more privilege however intersectionality complicates things a bit. In an article called “Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person” by Gina Crosley-Corcoran, she explains how though she is white, her social and economic class growing up made her less privileged than others. She has gone through hardships that a middle class black or latino person would not have experienced. This does not mean that she knows or understands what it is like to ba lacking in any other areas as well as the people who are but just an example of how different factors determine how much or how little privilege you have. Everyone has a unique way of experiencing oppression based on what and how many systems they fit into. The link to this article is here:

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