13 Resources for Teaching About White Privilege

by Marsha Rakestraw

“…the single greatest advantage of white privilege is that a white person may be completely unaware of its existence.” ~ Michael Spangenberger, educator

Many of us can go into a store and browse without worry that we’ll be monitored or accosted.

We see people who look like us in the media. We don’t have to worry that we’ll be judged or harassed because of our skin color.

That’s white privilege.

Despite the era of an African-American US president, white privilege is still pervasive — because it’s embedded into our systems and institutions, and it’s largely invisible to those of us who benefit from it.

White privilege is an essential topic to explore with students, and while there are numerous resources available, we’ve selected 13 to highlight.

    1. “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” by Peggy McIntosh (1998)
      This is the classic article that Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, created to help her identify “some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life.” McIntosh defines privilege as “an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day.”McIntosh’s questions have often been turned into a “privilege walk,” and they can serve as a guideline for creating customized questions for your own classroom.
    2. Tim Wise
      Tim Wise is an antiracist author, educator and speaker whose books, videos, and essays offer insightful and compelling material for exploration of white privilege.
    3. Paul Kivel
      Paul’s website offers a variety of resources, including exercises to explore racial justice, privilege, class, and other issues of privilege and justice. Kivel’s book, Uprooting Racism (3rd edition) is also an important resource. It offers a framework for understanding institutional racism and offers practical tools, ideas, and resources for white people to work as allies for racial justice.
    4. Privilege, Power & Difference by Allan Johnson (2005)
      Required reading for IHE’s students, Johnson’s book examines systems of privilege and reveals the underlying nature and consequences of privilege and our connection to it.
    5. Shades of Youth (2008)
      This documentary (the above link shows the trailer) features youth speaking out about racism, privilege, and how to take positive action.
    6. “Connecting with Oppression and Privilege: A Pedagogy for Social Justice.” by Dena R. Samuels
      This article offers suggested teaching activities for helping students explore oppression and privilege and their relationships to both. The activities are for college students, but could be modified a bit for high schoolers.
    7. “Diversity and Anti-Oppression Activities.” From Training for Change
      This section of their website offers activities for addressing diversity, marginalization, power, and empowerment.
    8. “Examining Oppression: Talk About It” From GLSEN Jump-Start Guide
      GLSEN’s guide offers several useful activities related to oppression, power, identity, and prejudices.
    9. “Bringing Students into the Matrix: A Framework for Teaching Race and Overcoming Student Resistance.” by Abby L. Ferber (2011)
      This article offers a context and framework for exploring issues of race and privilege with students and includes a very helpful outline of elements to include, such as seeing classifications of difference as socially constructed, and seeing oppression and privilege as harmful to everyone.
    10. “Complicating White Privilege: Poverty, Class, and the Nature of the Knapsack.” (2011) by Paul Gorski
      An assistant professor of Integrative Studies, Gorski explores the complexities of white privilege, and the importance of considering issues of economic injustice and other interconnected forms of oppression in this essay. Great for sparking discussion.

These resources are useful for educators to extend their own learning:

    1. Understanding and Dismantling White Privilege
      The new journal of the White Privilege Conference focuses on the intersections of privilege and highlighting positive action.
    2. Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible (2008)
      This documentary features stories from white men and women on “overcoming issues of conscious racism and entitlement.” It’s especially useful for educators to explore their own privilege experiences.
    3. “White Power and Privilege: Barriers to Culturally Responsive Teaching.” by B.J. Glimps and N.F. Ford (2010)
      In this article, the authors share their efforts to sensitize teachers to the presence of white power and its accompanying privileges, all with the aim of building transformative teachers.

    Find more resources about Privilege in our curated Pinterest board.