Peggy McIntosh and the ‘Invisible Knapsack’

peggy-mcintosh-from-viewfromventress.orgFrom Wikipedia: ‘Peggy McIntosh is an American feminist and anti-racist activist, the associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women [in Massachusetts], and a speaker and the founder and co-director of the National S.E.E.D. Project on Inclusive Curriculum (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity).

McIntosh is most famous for authoring the 1988 essay “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies.”

The “Invisible Knapsack” is a term coined by McIntosh in her essay, “Unpacking the Knapsack of White Privilege“, based on racial inequality. McIntosh argues that the unearned resources carried in the Invisible Knapsack are not in broad view or intended to be seen. Her short essay states that, “White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.” McIntosh emphasizes that these privileges are not distributed equally or shared by individuals of every race.’

BlankI live in an area of an anglophone majority and two sizeable, historical minorities: francophone and Native (which divides further into 2 groups: Anishinaabe and Haudonesaunee), as well as others, such as Metis, German, Italian, Japanese, etc. I’m white, male, anglophone, and well educated to boot. My Invisible Knapsack must be huge. Let’s see what’s in it. I bet I’ll find something other than a Swiss Army Knife.

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