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Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women’s disadvantages. Whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege.
* * * Peggy Mc Intosh was born Elisabeth Vance Means in 1934.
She grew up in Summit, New Jersey where the median income is quadruple the American national average—that is to say that half the incomes there are four times the national average, some of them substantially so. Means, the head of Bell Laboratories electronic switching department during the late 1950s.
Means is also recorded as the inventor of a patent held by Nokia Bell in 1959 known as the Information Storage Arrangement.
This device is the direct progenitor of ROM computer memory, and is cited in the latter’s patent filed in 1965 for IBM.
Through work to bring materials from women’s studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men’s unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged.
They may say they will work to women’s statues, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can’t or won’t support the idea of lessening men’s.Generally white people who experience such privilege do so without being conscious of it.The concept of ‘white privilege’ was popularized by Peggy Mc Intosh in a 1989 paper written at Harvard University and titled, “White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack.” It was written as a personal, experiential essay, and it details 26 ways in which Mc Intosh’s skin color has been decisive in determining her life outcomes.So, long before Peggy Mc Intosh wrote her paper, her family was already having an outsized effect on Western culture.Elizabeth Vance Means then attended Radcliffe, a renowned finishing school for the daughters of America’s patrician elites, and continued her private education at the University of London (ranked in the top 50 by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings), before completing her English Doctorate at Harvard. Kenneth Mc Intosh was announced in the ‘s social register on the same page as the wedding of Chicago’s Mayor Daley. Rustin Mc Intosh, was Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Columbia University.By the time of his marriage to Elizabeth, Kenneth Mc Intosh was a senior resident at the prestigious Brigham Hospital in Boston, founded by millionaire Peter Bent.In other words, Peggy Mc Intosh was born into the very cream of America’s aristocratic elite, and has remained ensconced there ever since.Very few of the people reading this article—whatever the color of their skin—will have even the vaguest idea of the comfort and privilege in which Peggy Mc Intosh grew up and to which she has since become accustomed.Nor will we have access to the world of opportunities that she has been fortunate enough to enjoy.This dark epistemology has quietly percolated through the universities and the wider culture for two decades now.It has had the effect of draining attention from a massive and growing wealth gap and it has pitted the poor against one another in public spectacles of acrimony and even violence.