49 pages 1 hour read

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

Nonfiction | Essay / Speech | Adult | Published in 1989

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“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

  • Genre: Nonfiction; essay
  • Originally Published: 1989
  • Reading Level/Interest: Grades 10-12; college/adult
  • Structure/Length: Approximately 18 pages
  • Central Concern: The author discusses the concept of white privilege, its invisibility to those who possess it, and its impact on society. Building on her study of male privilege, Peggy McIntosh lists specific privileges that she believes are directly connected to race and that white people take for granted as they unconsciously benefit from structures of power.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Discussion of racial inequality and privilege

Peggy McIntosh, Author

  • Bio: Born 1934; American feminist, anti-racism activist, speaker; Senior Research Scientist of the Wellesley Centers for Women; Founder of National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project on Inclusive Curriculum; received the Klingenstein Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership
  • Other Works: “Interactive Phases of Curricular Re-Vision: A Feminist Perspective” (1983); “Feeling Like a Fraud” (1985); On Privilege, Fraudulence, and Teaching As Learning: Selected Essays 1981-2019 (2019)


  • Race Inequality
  • Systems of Oppression

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will:

  • Understand the concept of white privilege as described by McIntosh and its implications in society.
  • Reflect on personal experiences and societal structures in relation to the concept of privilege.
  • Create an original work of art that conveys an important idea about white privilege.