Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Follow Up: Lorde, McIntosh, and the Combahee River Collective

My favorite article was "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh. I had never before considered that being white came with privileges. She notes that men will say that women are disadvantaged but won't say that they are overprivileged. I think I was of the same mindset. However, after reading McIntosh unpack the numerous different ways that white people have advantages, I have changed my mind. The "invisible package of unearned assets" that I carry around with me at all times has probably shaped my life more than I know (1). McIntosh preaches that we need to try to spread the positive advantages while, at the same time, rejecting the negative advantages to force us out of our present hierarchy. This requires that we completely reshape social systems so they take the unseen prejudices into account. This relates to Lorde's comment that we need to accept difference and think of it as a strength because we can't use the masters tools to dismantle his own house. I thought it was really interesting that the Combahee River Collective related the oppression of women (and patriarchy) to imperialism and capitalism. I never would have made that connection, but it makes their goals seem even less attainable. Not only are they trying to fight patriarchy and the oppression of women but the huge institutions of imperialism and capitalism too. I was a little confused about how the two were related but from what I understood, it had to do with the fact that the Collective believes that race, sex and class are all interrelated.

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