Reflection on Biases and Privlages

Recognizing your implicit social privileges and the tacit biases (understood or implied without being stated) that others carry about you are critical in understanding diversity. The idea of an “invisible knapsack” comes from Peggy McIntosh (McIntosh 1997), who focuses on white privilege. As she says, the privilege that comes with having light-colored skin or lighter-colored skin (colorism) is “like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks” that allows whites and lighter-skinned people a range of social action and acceptance not accorded to those with darker skin. Skin color is just one factor that can open some doors and close others. What implicit privileges do you carry that might affect how other individuals interact with you? What tacit biases might people you interact with have about you? Try to come up with at least five on each side: those you have of others and those others have of you (five privileges and five biases) and list them. Be as specific as you can be (for example, “Being a man” isn’t precise enough; something such as “as a male, I can walk through campus at night without fear of sexual harassment” is the level of specificity you should be going for).  Once you list your “five on each side” then choose one privilege and one bias to reflect deeper upon. Make a connection with how you think your deeper reflection about your privilege or bias can affect your interactions with others in the workplace or your community.

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