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Migran Markosyan

Whiteness in America Whiteness in America The issue of Whiteness and its meaning has been discussed by many scholars; two of those scholars are Peggy McIntosh and Judith N. Martin. Both McIntosh and Martin discuss the fact that, in general, whiteness is a unseen privilege in the United States. This literature review of Mcintoshs and Martnis articles defines whiteness and elaborates on its advantages and disadvantages, from a general and personal perspective, by answering the following questions. 1) Based on McIntoshs article, what is the definition of white privilege? 2) Based on Martins article, what constitutes white identity? 3) What is my own relationship to white privilege? How have I experienced it (either as an advantage/benefit and/or as a lack of advantage? Understanding what whiteness is and how it affects our society from a general and personal perspective can help us be more aware that such inequalities exist. Based on McIntoshs article, what is the definition of white privilege? McIntosh defines white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was meant to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightlessness knapsack of special provisions, maps passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks (McIntosh, 1990). White privilege is a, sort of, unseen advantage that a white person has over non-whites in society, for example I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented (McIntosh, 1990) or apply for a job without the fear of discrimination because of your race. White privilege is an invisible knapsack because whites dont often realize or question the fact that they have these privileges.

Migran Markosyan

Whiteness in America Based on Martins article, what constitutes white identity? According to martin one way to understand [white identity] is to view it not as simply a racial or ethnic category but rather as a set of three linked dimensions in which power is a key ingredient. [1] a location of structural advantage: [2] a standpoint from which to view ourselves and others, and a [3] set of cultural practices ( core symbols, labels, and norms) (Martin, 1997). 1. Whiteness is a location of structural privilege. Location of structural advantage means that not all whites share the same access to power, some have more than others and some dont have power at all. 2. Whiteness is a standpoint from which to view ourselves and others. This is simply the place where whites look at themselves, others and society. 3. Whiteness is a set of core Symbols, Norms, and Labels. Symbols are those values and priorities that are reflected in the norms of behavior and labels used to describe the group (Martin, 1997). Norms are usually not well defined in this case and thus it is hard to say which norms are the ones that are shared by the white group. What is my own relationship to white privilege? How have I experienced it (either as an advantage/benefit and/or as a lack of advantage? I was born in Armenia where I spent twelve years before relocating to the U.S. I have to honestly say that, as a child, I was really not exposed to any sort of racism or whiteness because most people in my country were either Armenian or Russian. In fact, I had not even met a black person until I visited Russia and thereafter, the US. I had never met so many people with so many different backgrounds before arriving to the US. I do feel some tension within the various

Migran Markosyan

Whiteness in America groups since many of my friends were from different cultural background, especially in high school, where kids are more expressive in their opinions. I dont really consider my self to be white nor brown or any color so for me, identifying with one or the other was never an issue, I am a universal person. My personal experience with whiteness or its advantages/disadvantages is very minimal. The only real time where I felt that being Armenian or middle eastern was directly related to such an experience was right after 9/11. I used to travel a lot for my job and I got stopped and searched more often than not. I would say that if I was white or looked more white this probably would of never happened. Although I have not had many experiences with whiteness it will be foolish to say that such a thing is not a factor in other peoples lives that are more or less affected by it on a daily basis. By understanding what is white identity and white privilege, and by reflecting upon our own selves, perhaps, we can make the world a better place one person at a time.

Migran Markosyan

Whiteness in America

References Martin, J. N. (1997). Understanding Whiteness in the United States. (L. A. Samovar, & R. E. Porter, Eds.) Intercultural Communication: A reader. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth McIntosh, P. (1990). White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Independent School .