by Matthew Chase

As a sociology undergraduate, one of the first readings I had been ever exposed to was Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack (1989), which dissected the unearned societal advantages conferred to white people. This article was particularly powerful for me at the time being a white man as it upturned my worldview of racial inequalities. Rather than simply learning about how people of color struggle under systemic weight of racism, I had to recognize how my own racial position benefited from racist systems on an everyday basis. This article is a good start for many white people who want to understand their own participation and complicity in white supremacy, and how to commit to their dismantling. The list below reminds me like a mantra why I am responsible for ending racism. Here are a hundred different ways that I personally benefit from white supremacy.

  1. I am more likely to be able to own a home than people of color.
  2. I will likely be shown more home ownership opportunities than people of color.
  3. The value of my house will likely be higher compared to homeowners of color.
  4. My mortgage interest rate will likely be lower than for homeowners of color.
  5. I will likely be charged hundreds of dollars less for purchasing a car than a person of color.
  6. I am more likely to be born into a family with more wealth, education, and income than families of color.
  7. I am more likely to live in a segregated white neighborhood that has higher-quality, well-resourced schools than people of color.
  8. I am 3 times less likely to be expelled from school than a black student.
  9. I am more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students of color.
  10. The investment return for my college degree is significantly higher in value than for people of color.
  11. I am more likely to be employed after graduating college than a recent black graduate.
  12. Even with only a high school diploma, I am still just as likely to be hired than a black college student.
  13. My student debt will be likely lower than for students of color.
  14. My intelligence and education will not be questioned because of my race.
  15. I can expect that my kid would attend a school predominately represented by white students and staff.
  16. My kid would be able to easily discover and read children’s books predominately represented by white characters, written by white authors.
  17. I am more likely to live in a segregated white neighborhood that has better job opportunities than people of color.
  18. I am 2 times less likely to be unemployed than a worker of color, regardless of my education level.
  19. My family will likely have a higher income than a family of color.
  20. I am more likely to get a job with benefits including employer-sponsored healthcare, a retirement plan, and paid time off than a worker of color.
  21. I am more likely to get call for a job interview because of my white-sounding name.
  22. I will likely spend less on healthcare out-of-pocket than people of color.
  23. I am more likely to have a retirement account, and be able to put far more money into it.
  24. I am 2 to 3 times less likely to have hypertension and diabetes than people of color.
  25. I am less likely to suffer cardiovascular disease than people of color.
  26. My kid would be more likely to receive prenatal care than a black kid.
  27. My infant kid would be 2 times less likely to die than a black infant.
  28. I am more than 2 times less likely to be living in poverty than a black person.
  29. I am almost 6 times less likely to be incarcerated than a black person.
  30. I am 2 times less likely to be traffic stopped by police than a black person.
  31. During traffic stops, I am 3 times less likely to be searched by police than drivers of color.
  32. I am less likely to be given a ticket during a traffic stop than black and Latino drivers.
  33. I am almost 4 times less likely to experience police use of force, including being tased, set with dogs, pepper sprayed, and physical force than a person of color.
  34. I am far less likely to be killed by police than a person of color.
  35. I am 9 times less likely to be a victim of homicide than a black person.
  36. My kid would be 2 times less likely to be arrested for crimes in school than a child of color.
  37. My kid would be 2 times less likely to be arrested for any crime than a child of color.
  38. My kid would be less likely to be held in detention than a black kid.
  39. My kid would be less likely to experience juvenile incarceration, and far less likely to be sent to adult prison than a child of color.
  40. While I am just as likely to use and abuse drugs, I am less likely to be arrested for drug crimes than a person of color.
  41. I am over 3 times less likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than a person of color.
  42. I am less likely to be incarcerated while awaiting trial than a black person.
  43. I am less likely to be charged with mandatory minimum sentences, regardless of the crime, than a person of color.
  44. I am more likely to receive a sentence of community service than prison because of my race.
  45. Even if I am sentenced to prison, I will likely receive a shorter prison sentence than a person of color.
  46. I am 12 times less likely to be convicted for a crime I didn’t commit than a person of color.
  47. I am far less likely to receive a life sentence without parole for a nonviolent offense than a person of color.
  48. I have a better chance at getting a job with a criminal record than a black person who doesn’t have a criminal record.
  49. I am far less likely to lose my right to vote after a felony conviction than a black person.
  50. I will never be racially profiled on the suspicion of shoplifting.
  51. My political representatives are more likely to respond to me because of my white-sounding name, regardless of political party affiliation.
  52. I have never been asked “Where are you from?” and I can expect to never be asked that question.
  53. I can believe that everyone should have equal rights, but I don’t have to do anything to support it.
  54. I can  deny that racism exists and reasonably expect that no one would challenge it.
  55. I can live my life believing that people of color are responsible for all of the problems and issues they face.
  56. I can believe that people of color are struggling to get ahead because of a lack of good role models and family instability rather than institutional racism.
  57. I can believe that people of color just don’t have enough motivation to get ahead in life.
  58. I can believe that undocumented immigration leads to more crime and more economic problems when evidence indicates otherwise.
  59. I can believe that people of color are treated fairly in criminal justice, housing, and education despite the evidence to the contrary.
  60. I can  believe that my race has not provided me any unearned advantages.
  61. I can expect that most of the U.S.-produced films that I watch star a white protagonist.
  62. I can believe that racism exists, and only acknowledge it as a problem of individual prejudice, despite the statistics and facts revealing the deeper, institutional roots.
  63. I can believe a person of color is racist for calling out my white privilege and complicity in Whiteness.
  64. I can condemn Donald Trump as a racist, and still never think of how I participate in racist behavior.
  65. I can condemn Donald Trump as a racist, and still never think of how the United States participates in racist practices locally as well as globally.
  66. I can forgive other white people for their racism and call it ignorance, and not have to look at it any deeper.
  67. I can believe that social justice is nothing more than a handout.
  68. I don’t have to be concerned with stereotypes against white people.
  69. I can rename my racism as patriotism.
  70. I don’t have to be responsible for the racist systems that I actively benefit from while people of color are exploited by them,
  71. I can believe that only Republicans or conservatives are racist.
  72. I can expect that I will never be made uncomfortable in any space because of my race.
  73. I never have to be concerned how my behavior will reflect on the white community.
  74. My racial identity will never be questioned.
  75. I can expect that most spaces will be predominately represented by my own race.
  76. My accent will never be commented on negatively.
  77. I can claim that I don’t see race.
  78. I can dismiss any claim of racism as being too sensitive or just being politically correct.
  79. I don’t have to worry about looking threatening to others in how I dress or behave.
  80. I never have to be told that all of my race look alike.
  81. My race won’t be the punchline or setup to a joke.
  82. I can believe that I’m being attacked because someone is critically discussing whiteness and white supremacy.
  83. I can believe that I shouldn’t be held accountable for racist systems that I didn’t create, yet I still benefit from unquestioningly.
  84. I can easily believe that whites are just culturally and/or biologically superior to all other races, and not be challenged for it.
  85. I can call myself an ally, but never actually commit to any form of social justice.
  86. I can believe that I should be praised for being an ally.
  87. I can believe that all of my success is the result of my own merits, rather than the product of racist systems designed specifically to benefit me.
  88. I can believe that I am a legal citizen in America.
  89. I can live ignorantly of these privileges as though they do not exist, or that I am more deserving of them than everyone else.
  90. I can conveniently overlook the history of genocide and colonization that white people have committed against indigenous peoples and people of color.
  91. My citizenship will never be questioned.
  92. I can believe that the end of slavery also marked the end of racism.
  93. I can believe that enough changes have been made to achieve racial equality.
  94. I can believe that too much attention is being paid to racism compared to other social problems.
  95. I can believe that kneeling for the national anthem is unpatriotic and traitorous rather than a symbolic protest against police brutality against black communities.
  96. I never have to think about race in my everyday life.
  97. My culture and history is represented in the core educational curriculum, not as an elective.
  98. I can absolve my active participation in racist systems behind the mask of implicit bias.
  99. I will not be subject to travel bans, hyper surveillance, and criminalization because of my race, despite rampant and systemic violence committed by white people.
  100. I can believe that affirmative action is taking jobs away from qualified white people, despite the evidence to the contrary.
  101. I will never experience having my success questioned as a product of diversity quotas.
  102. I can avoid being labeled a white supremacist because I am not overtly racist, although I remain complicit to the continued existence of white supremacist systems.
  103. Scholars of my race can popularize concepts like white privilege despite the long-standing history of scholars of color who have already advanced these lines of thought.
  104. I can publish this thinkpiece and expect no negative consequences in both my personal and professional life.
  105. I can be normal.
  106. I can choose to ignore this entire list and move on with my day without a second thought.

While I may have misled somewhat in that I counted over a hundred benefits of white supremacy, I am suggesting that this list doesn’t exhaust the full breadth and depth of white supremacy in everyday life. It manifests both as institutional racism as well as individual prejudices. Perhaps more important to recognize is how these benefits do not act independently, but rather they interact with each other in insidious and dynamic ways from housing to education to career to criminal justice. They constantly reinforce and perpetuate each other’s existence, cycling as legacy systems and ideologies that affect us from generation to generation, from my ancestors to my parents to me to the new faces of white youth. This list doesn’t even begin to touch on the intersectional links of class, gender, sexuality, etc., and I question if the complexity of intersectionality could really be encapsulated by such a list.

Obviously, the answer is no, it never could. I would like to instead encourage white folks to read up on the brilliance of Anna Julia Cooper, Patricia Hill Collins, bell hooks, Kimberle Crenshaw, and other feminists of color who have advanced the discussion far more than I ever could with my list. I want this list to be a reminder for white people to get uncomfortable, to feel the full weight of our complicity to systems and attitudes that literally kill people. We are responsible for the brutalities, for the exploitation, for the wholesale destruction of lives of color.

Whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not, white people are actively investing in Whiteness. It’s a system that allows us to feel valued, safe, and comfortable. But defending this system also means justifying the continued mass exploitation and violence of people that it seeks to dehumanize as being less than us.

We might get uncomfortable from examining our own whiteness, but we will never have to know the suffering of real racial injustice. Make that another benefit of white supremacy.

But critical self-reflection and calling out white privilege are not enough. We have to organize and mobilize in divesting from Whiteness, to engage other white people toward racial justice.

Wondering where to start? In addition to the Black Lives Matter movement, begin the work by joining and supporting the efforts of antiracist organizations such as the following:

  • Redneck Revolt –  “A national network of community defense projects from a broad spread of political, religious, and cultural backgrounds.”
  • White People 4 Black Lives – “A white anti-racist collective and activist project.”
  • Showing Up for Racial Justice – “A national network of groups and individuals organizing white people for racial justice.”

These are just a few organizations organizing white folks in an antiracist community built on solidarity with people of color and other marginalized populations across the intersections.

If you have another organization in mind, please feel free to write it in the comments.

Matthew Chase is a university librarian in Southern California. He holds a master’s in sociological practice and a master’s in information and library science. His interests include mass media representations, critical whiteness studies, and digital discourses.