"Institutional Racism" and "White Skin Privilege": What Might be the Connections?

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Another way of thinking about some of the these issues is to ask what it means to be “white,” at least in a society like the U.S. in which being white has involved political, legal, economic, and social advantages or privileges. We might ask the following questions:
(1) Why is being “white” somewhat invisible? Why don’t “white” people often notice they are white, feel aware of their whiteness? What are the situations in which white people are most likely to be aware of feeling white? Why, when white folks are asked to list five things that describe them, they are much less likely to list being white than Black or Latino people are to list something about their race or ethnic identity?
(2) What does it mean to be white? When we think of whiteness, what things come to mind? What are “white people” like?
(3) Is there such a thing as “white culture”? If so, what are some of the things that make it up? If not, why not—after all, we talk about Black culture?
(4) Is whiteness something white people can feel positive about, take pride in (as people of color often do about being African American, or Hmong, for example)? Or do we associate being conscious and proud of whiteness as something that only hate groups would likely feel?
(5) Are there costs to being white, things that white people “give up” to be white? Are there things that are hard about being white?
(6) Do you agree that being white involves some privileges, even when a white person doesn’t ask for them or want them? If such privileges don’t seem fair to have, what can a white person do?

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