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The Invisible Backpack of White Privilege
In Moodle there’s a reading called “The Invisible Backpack of White Privilege”. First of all I’d just like to say that in addition to being incredibly insightful, it was pretty hilarious because it was in the form of a product review which I think added to the satire of it all. The article reminded me a lot of Invisible Man and how he is invisible in his own ways as a black man. This article explores the invisible capabilities of white people and how invisibility can benefit white people. This reminded me of Temples Of Lung and Air because he used an almost identical metaphor of white privilege being akin to “invisibility”. I found it interesting that the author of the article and the rapper from Temples of Lung and Air can come to such a similar conclusion and metaphor to describe it. If you haven’t read the article yet I highly recommend it, I enjoyed it a lot.
I also thought that the satire of this article added to its message and made the topic easier to confront in such a compact way. I'm not going to lie, when I reached this part of the chapter after reading so much about the abuses in the Congo that were detailed in the other sources. I expected this source to be the final culmination of the critique of imperialism and white privilege we had been exposed to in the rest of the chapter. However, when I clicked on it, I was surprised to see that it was in fact a satirical product review. I think that presenting this source in this format helped to solidify the self-awareness of the writer who penned this post, and it was a good culmination of the rather intense chapter that preceded it. I also think that it is interesting how white privilege is something that is almost universally acknowledged in our society today, especially among the people in our class, but these humorous posts make light of it in a sarcastic nature. Do you think that this issue is more digestible in this light, rather than it being the product of a lecture in an article about how white privilege is the bane of our society?
I really enjoyed the short. Like said earlier, the idea of white privilege is normally a sort of taboo topic among white people, and oftentimes brushed off as not being real. I see on twitter, quite a lot, videos of people of color being thrown into cop cars, despite being innocent and exercising their rights. While those videos are eye-opening to the violence in America, many of them are commented on by, normally conservative, white people arguing that this happens to all people, or that these people who did nothing were asking for it. It is refreshing to see something like The Invisible Backpack of White Privilege that, not only speaks out about it, but writes it in a humorous way where people are able to consume and learn about a pretty serious topic.
To respond to Hannah, I do think that making this article into a product review and making it more light hearted made confronting such a controversial topic easier to digest. I think putting it in this format made me think of the idea of white privilege in different angles. I liked how the author had the reader seeing white privilege as something someone owns and carries and then comparing it to the societal disadvantages of being black for example and expressing that burden as a worse product than the white product. It puts things in perspective because the narrator of the article is complaining about their product even though it’s not bad and is so much better than his roommate's.
I think this was one of those articles that really needed to be read to understand the cruel reality of race and how it is still dealt with today. I felt that while I was reading this, all I could think of was "liberty and justice for all" and how fake that is to say it each morning when it is simply not true. It is disturbing, but it is the undeniable truth that we all must face. I like how you said it was written in a rather delicate way with a review so people can digest it better and I believe that was a great way to put it. It seems the article was written to point many things out and I applaud the author for writing it as it needed to be said. This connects a lot to what we have been discussing with HofD and race and I feel we aren't quite done with it yet.
Something important I noticed while reading the piece was the narrator's total ignorance and refusal to look at anything from another person's point of view. Everything the narrator had or paid attention to came from his own "backpack." The satirical essay really drives home the point that often, people with white privilege are too wrapped up in themselves to notice the disadvantage of other races. Another thing that drove the point further was the highlighting of the "underdog mentality." I've noticed that when a nonwhite person speaks about their experience with racism, a white person will often try to compare their personal struggle to that of a person who's experienced racism. Something people with white privilege don't often understand is that they will never experience racism in the same way that a nonwhite person has, and although their personal struggle may be bad, it can never compare exactly to racism because of this privilege. I've noticed that a lot of white people refuse to acknowledge the inherent privilege of their skin color. But is this because of underlying guilt? Or a complete ignorance of the issue?
I think it could potentially be a bit of both. When we were discussing political poetry in class we talked about how Americans seem to have an underlying guilt and/or embarrassment when it comes to their country and its history. I believe that the same can go for white people and how they feel about their race. I've heard many times white people say "I wish I wasn't white" or "I wish I was a more interesting race". We can unpack this in a few different ways. For one, like you said, there is a refusal to acknowledge the inherent privilege of their skin color. White people have the best position on the social ladder and yet some wish they weren't white. This can derive from this guilt for having this superior position, ignorance for the existence of that white privilege and advantage in the first place, or could come from society's fascination with exoticism. Personally, I think it's a mix of all three. Our culture seems to have an obsession with being exotic, or in other words, “quirky” or “unique”. People like being different because it makes them special. Since white is often seen as the “default race”, white people that say they wish they weren’t white probably realize they cannot find this “unique” aspect of themselves through race, and will then try to, as you said, compare their personal struggle to that of a person who's experienced racism, to make up for this characteristic that they hold that’s too “mainstream” to make them “quirky or oppressed.
I feel like the satire of the article also made it good. It made it more enjoyable for me on top of its great concepts and ideas. I think the idea of a “invisible backpack f white privilege” is very interesting as it suggests that even those who don't act privileged will always have some of that privilege inside of them based on their upbringing. I find that very interesting to think about as our upbringings definitely affect how we act.
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