Social science – sociology assignment 2

Homework Assignment II

Adapted from Peggy Mcintosh’s article, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”


Score 5 if statement is always true for you

Score 3 if the statement is sometimes true for you

Score 0 if the statement is seldom true for you

Score -2 is statement is typically false for you

Because of my race or color …

1. _____ I can be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. _____ I can turn on the television or open the front page of the paper and see people of

my race widely and positively represented.

3. _____ When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown

that my people made it what it is.

4. _____ I can be sure that curricular materials will testify to the existence of my race.

5. _____ I can go into most supermarkets and find the staple foods that fit with my cultural


6. _____ I can go into any hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.

7. _____ Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to

work against the appearance of financial reliability.

8. _____ I can swear, dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having

people attribute these choices to the bad morals, poverty or illiteracy of my race.

9. _____ I can do well in challenging situations without being called a credit to my race.

10. _____ I am never asked to speak for people of my race.

11. _____ I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and

behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.

12. _____ I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge,” I will be facing a

person of my race.

13. _____ I can conveniently buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards and

children’s magazines featuring people of my race

14. _____ If a traffic cop pulls me over, I can be sure I haven’t been singled out because of

my race.

15. _____ I can go home from most meetings of the organizations I belong to feeling tied in

rather than isolated, out of place, outnumbered, unheard, feared, or hated.

16. _____ I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot

get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.

17. _____ I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against


18. _____ If my week or year is going badly, I need not wonder if each negative episode or

situation has racial overtones.

19. _____ I can comfortably avoid, ignore or minimize the impact of racism on my life.

20. _____ I can speak in public to a powerful group without putting my race on trial.

21. _____ I can choose blemish cover bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less

match my skin.

_____ TOTAL

(More on following page)

Adapted from the Women’s Theological Center (


Score 5 if statement is always true for you

Score 3 if the statement is sometimes true for you

Score 0 if the statement is seldom true for you

Score -2 is statement is typically false for you

1. _____ I assume I will be able to meet my basic needs. I take having necessities for


2. _____ I buy what I need and want without worry. I can afford luxury items easily.

3. _____ I do not fear being hungry or homeless.

4. _____ I can manage to know only people of similar class background by exclusively

frequenting places where such people gather — neighborhoods, schools, clubs,

workplaces, etc.

5. _____ I evaluate others and recognize those of similar class background because I was

taught to do that kind of evaluation.

6. _____ I can avoid spending time with people whom I am trained or have learned to

mistrust and who may have learned to mistrust my kind.

7. _____ I can hide family secrets and family failures behind the doors of my home.

8. _____ I am in control of how I spend my time.

9. _____ I can often get things by being “charming,” gracious, and restrained.

10. _____ When I am in the company of people of high socioeconomic status in any social

situation I have little discomfort.

11. _____ In higher socioeconomic status communities I am trusted and not perceived as a


12. _____ If I break or lose something I can replace it easily. I do not have to shop around

for the best buy or wait for sales.

13. _____ I do not have to worry about how emergencies will impact my spending


14. _____ I can live a less stressful life because I can afford costly short cuts.

15. _____ I can afford good medical and mental health care in a setting that will ensure my


16. _____ I believe I will be able to give my children an inheritance so their road is easier

than the road of others.

17. _____ I could probably eventually advance my career or social contacts’ careers by

pulling strings myself or ask my parents to help me.

18. _____ I and others like me have the advantage of suitable clothing and manner when

seeking employment.

19. _____ I can follow a career path that does not pay well.

20. _____ I can choose to make my privileged position as visible or invisible as I want,

depending on the situation in which I find myself.

21. _____ In a group of relative strangers, but fellow class members, certain assumptions

about my/our background, financial position, education, network of friends/family, and

behavior will be made.

22. _____ I can be ignorant about money in general and my own finances in particular.

_____ TOTAL

(More on following page)

This may have been a difficult and or thought-provoking exercise for many of you. Using

materials we learned in in class, please write a reflection essay on the exercise being mindful of

your own position in social hierarchies and how it may differ or be similar to those of others

around you. You do not need to submit your responses to the survey.

The assignment should be written in essay form. Please use a word processor and double

spacing. The complete assignment should be about 1,000 words. Please use the following

prompts as guides in your essay.

1. What was your initial reaction to this list?

2. Is there anything that surprised you, raised questions for you, or that you found difficult?

3. Can you share something on this list that you have experienced in your own life?

4. Define privilege. Explain the concept using bases of inequality including race and class

but also possibly others you have read about in class.

5. Explain how privileges exist even without the advantaged being aware of their own


6. Use this list to discuss how privileges of different sort exist in contemporary United

States and their consequences for reproducing inequalities.

7. How do you think this privilege (or lack of it) influences your experience on campus or in

life, more generally?

8. Please use this essay to reflect on the ongoing conversations about race relations in the

United States as well as the civil disobedience social movement surrounding it.

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