A privilege is a special entitlement or right granted to certain people or groups, but not to others. The notion of privilege in regards to race was made famous in Peggy McIntosh's now classic "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," where she identified list of everyday privileges she experienced from being white. This focus on privilege represents a way of understanding race by focusing not only on the disadvantages of racial minorities but also on the advantages systematically conferred upon whites. While a white person may not have done anything to get the privilege, and may not have asked for it, they still benefit from the (often invisible) privilege in everyday life.
In addition to the privileges conferred on whites in the labor market, in shopping and financial transactions, in the housing market, and many other social situations, whites also receive privileges in politics. In borrowing from McIntosh, I have
developed a list of privileges given to Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential race. Feel free to comment and add more.
1. Mitt Romney is able to talk to and over a moderator of his own race about his plan for the economy during the 2012 Presidential Debate. His reaction will not be interpreted as being from "the angry white guy." He is also able to appeal to both a live and broadcast audience largely of his own race.
2. Mitt Romney’s citizenship and birth certificate have not yet been scrutinized in the media. He does not have to spend time and resources on his campaign to convince voters he is American.
3. Mitt Romney is not regularly portrayed in political cartoons as a monkey or native to another country.
4. Mitt Romney’s family does not have to constantly worry about how "white" or "normal" they appear to the public.
5. When Mitt Romney seeks to appeal to low-income voters, he does not have to fear being associated with negative stereotypes of welfare. A recent study found that, compared to the broader population, people with "racial resentments" were much more responsive to negative ads linking Obama to welfare.
Elizabeth Dickson is a student at Ohio Wesleyan University, where she is double-majoring in Psychology and Sociology.