White privilege is a concept that far too many people misunderstand. These are the same people who argue that white privilege is made-up, that people of color and others who work to point out entrenched social injustice are just complainers.
People of color aren’t unfairly discriminated against, the argument goes, they are just unwilling to work hard to get ahead. Or maybe it’s their “inner city” mentality, to quote Congressman Paul Ryan.
But despite the wrongheaded belief that people of color are bootstrap pullers, structural inequality dictates that some people are beginning life sans boots. Peggy McIntosh explains the concept of white privilege as an “invisible backpack” of unearned rights and privileges that white people enjoy. “Privilege exists when one group has something of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to, rather than because of anything they’ve done or failed to do,” reads a quote commonly attributed to Peggy McIntosh. “Access to privilege doesn’t determine one’s outcomes, but it is definitely an asset that makes it more likely that whatever talent, ability, and aspirations a person with privilege has will result in something positive for them.”
Here are just a few of the things that are more or likely to be true if one happens to have been born white in America: