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Defining Privilege and Minority Groups

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How can we define privilege? Does it seem that all groups in the U.S. begin on an equal footing? In other words, does white privilege and male privilege exist? After considering these ideas in more detail, what examples of white privilege come to mind? Does this mean that all white people are better off than other minority groups?

Part B: How does affirmative action fit into McIntosh's discussion?

Group 1: Provide a supporting argument for affirmative action within the context of McIntosh's article. What purpose does affirmative action serve to address the issues of privilege?

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How can we define privilege?
There are different contexts in which we can define privilege. Apart from the standard dictionary definition, the contexts include class/wealth, sex, sexual orientation, race, ability, citizenship status, and religion (even being right vs. left handed). Understanding these differing contexts will help you in articulating the "difference" that privilege perpetuates.

I will give you an example from the Anglo-Caribbean:
The Anglo-Caribbean, or the formerly British colonized, English speaking Caribbean nations, those who have "fair" skin will tend to get jobs or be sought after for marriage easier than those who are "dark" complexioned. This has been a continuing social phenomenon since colonization. The "whiter" one skin looks, the more privilege they can have or "appear" to have. Evidence of this is in the rise of skin bleaching, as in Jamaica, so much so that parents are bleaching their children's skin.

I also think about the British class system where "whites" (or people who would be considered "white" to the rest of the world) are classed and privileges range depending on "status." (This is also evident in other nations and cultures such as in India and Africa).

Does it seem that all groups in the U.S. begin on an equal footing? In other words, does white privilege and male privilege exist?
Socially, you can determine whether all groups begin on a equal footing. I find this question also contextual because not all states or even cities are as accepting or inclusive as others. For example, if a visibly homosexual man walks on the streets of New York or Los Angeles the response he would receive is not going to be the same as if he walks through a small country town maybe in the Confederate South.

I remember a situation where someone (a visible minority) discussed the topic of privilege with a white friend and his father and they were completely irate at the topic because they ...

Solution Summary

This solution will assist the student in defining privilege with examples from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom as well as discuss issues of privilege with respect to minority groups and affirmative action.

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