Privilege because of white skin is not something that white people necessarily do, create or enjoy on purpose. Often it is not our intent, as individual white people, to make use of the unearned and unseen benefits we have received on the basis of our skin color. Most of us go through our days without caring that we are white or that it even matters. However, the formation of a system in which race plays a significant part − one that arranges the superiority of the white race over all others − has been in no way accidental or random. If we revisit American history, white people holding immense power and influence, acting on behalf of our entire race, have made decisions that have shaped white people as a group very differently than groups of color. History is filled with examples of the purposeful construction of a systemic structure that grants privileges to white people and withholds these privileges from colored people.
According to Jennifer Holladay in her book “White Anti-Racist Activism: A Personal Roadmap”, the privilege of having white skin serves several functions. First, it provides white people with “perks” that they do not earn and that people of color do not enjoy. Second, white privilege creates real advantages for people with skin. They are immune to a lot of challenges. And last but not the least, white privilege shapes the world in which we live and the way that we navigate and interact with one another and with the world.
So what are the perks of being white? A lot, actually. Ever wondered why the color of flesh-colored band-aid is somewhat white or off-white and matches the white skin tone? That’s because the band-aid companies considered white people as the buying majority in the United States. When going to the grocery store, white people can readily find their shampoos and conditioners in the aisle labeled ‘hair case’, while a separate section for ‘ethnic products’ is intended for people of colored skin. Even the complimentary shampoos of hotels we stay in are made for the hair texture of white American hair. Travel-sized bottles of hair care products formulated for white American hair are available in most grocery stores and drug stores.
Now that there are several examples of perks achieved from having white skin, we go to the certain advantages white people have due to their skin color. The second function of white skin privilege is that it creates significant advantages for white people. Jenniffer Holladay points out the following examples:
• Skin color does not work against white people in terms of how other people perceive their financial responsibility, style of dress, public speaking skills, or job performance.
• Other people do not take issue or make a fuss on the professional achievements of white people because of their race (or because of affirmative action programs).
• Store security personnel or law enforcement officers do not harass, pull over or follow white people because of their race.
We go to the third and most wide-reaching part, how white privilege shapes how white people view the world and how the world views white people. If you were able to read history books or books about American national heritage, you might have noticed that it is our white-skinned forefathers that shaped our civilization, our constitution and our country. Even textbooks in schools portray mostly white people and their contributions to the world. White people are widely represented and celebrated in our national currency, national monuments and statues.
The workings of our forefathers and the powerful white people are still felt by us with the white privilege we are granted. In reality, it’s not your fault you were born with white skin and experience these privileges. However, whether you realize it or not, you do benefit from white privilege. Thus, you have to be responsible in maintaining awareness of that fact.

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