Lesson plan for MFT 225, Diversity Issues in MFT
Topic: White Privilege
Purpose: To gain awareness how white privilege may influence us as therapists, and how it may influence our clients.
Introduction: With this exercise, our target is to become more aware of how white privilege may influence us as societal members.
In chapter 11, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Peggy McIntosh argues that in the United States, whites have privileges that people of other races do not have. This is different from the notion from racism or prejudice, because people who benefit from white privilege do not necessarily hold racist beliefs themselves. I am a white man, talking to a group that is mostly white, so we have a particular challenge, because it is especially difficult for white people to learn about white privilege. We tend to think of white privilege as a black or a latino issue. And when we begin to recognize that we have privilege, we may find ourselves unconsciously justifying why things are the way they are. “Whites are more industrious,” or “Whites commit less crime,” so you may begin to look for evidence that may tap into racial stereotypes. McIntosh calls this the “myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all.” The reason meritocracy in America is a myth is because white Americans rely on an inheritance of social and financial privilege from their ancestors that they would not have inherited if their ancestors were slaves, for example.
Consider some statistics presented by Ray Hartmann in an article called “Blinded by the White.” According to the 2006 Census, 80% of Americans were white.
Of the nation’s airplane pilots, 98.3 percent are white.
Of the nation’s geologists, 95.9 percent are white.
Of the nation’s dentists, 95.6 percent are white.
Of the nation’s authors, 93.9 percent are white.
Of the nations lawyers, 93.8 percent are white.
Of the nation’s aerospace engineers, 93.8 percent are white.
Of the nation’s economists, 91.9 percent are white.
Of the nation’s architects, 90.6 percent are white.
Only 37 percent of the nation’s jail inmates were white in 1994 (as compared with 56 percent in 1978), and only 46 percent of the prisoners executed in the past six decades were white. Only 60 percent of the children living below the poverty line are white. Black and Latino American males are three times more likely than white males to have their vehicles stopped and searched by police. Black youth arrested for drug possession for the first time are incarcerated at a rate that is forty-eight times greater than the rate for white youth, even when all other factors surrounding the crime are identical.
But again, this is not racism. This is white privilege. Hartmann concludes his article this way: “Yes, we’re a color-blind society when it comes to ‘preferences,’ all right. We can’t see the white.”
Most white people do not think to describe themselves as white, whereas people of other races usually describe their race. This is because when one’s own identity is congruent with that of the dominant culture, one is apt to take those traits for granted. We would probably all agree on the default categories for individual identity in the U.S.
Below are categories of unmarked and marked groups.
racewhiteblack, Hispanic, Indian
religionChristianMuslim, Jew, Buddhist
sexual orientation straightgay, bisexual, transgendered
Christine Sleeter, who is a professor at California State University, stated in an interview:
If I do well at something, nobody is going to say, “You’re a credit to your race.” Saying that presumes that the race that the person is a member of ordinarily doesn’t do very well.
Because I am white, nobody says that about me. Yet such statements frequently surround kids of color. People make assumptions about their intellectual ability, about their family support, simply on the basis of their skin color. (from http://www.rethinkingschools.org/ archive/15_02/Int152.shtml)
Please answer ALL of the following questions in a 1-2 page paper formatted in APA style:
What did you learn?
How can you apply this information to your current and future occupation?
What other ways can you use this information?