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Emptying the White Knapsack

Jaime Grant, Ph.D.

“Students of color at colleges across the country have been organizing for years to foreground their experiences of racism – raising a broad range of issues from campus life, to curriculum, to hiring practices and faculty representation of people of color. At Kalamazoo College, a growing number of students of color are raising key questions about a college’s readiness for meaningful engagement with issues of racism, while students at the University of Michigan and the University of California Los Angeles are organizing against erasure in the wake of legal decisions against affirmative action.

“Student organizing has been accompanied by seemingly endless discussions about white privilege and frequent references to Peggy McIntosh’s 1988 essay, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, a classic consciousness-raising piece about white privilege.

“For many white students, this article is an eye-opener because of its analysis that white people benefit from racist structures and the racist distribution of power and resources in US society every day of our lives. Yet this article remains limited because it offers no direction for its readers after coming to this awareness.

“I offer this piece as a follow-up to McIntosh...”

Read the rest of Jaime Grant’s compelling essay “Emptying the White Knapsack” on Praxis Center, an online resource center for scholars, activists, and artists hosted by Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Jaime Grant is contributing editor for Praxis Center’s “Gender and Sexualities” section, and recent Arcus Center executive director.

From action research and radical scholarship, to engaged teaching and grassroots activism, to community and cultural organizing and revelatory art practice, Praxis Center makes visible the imperative social justice work being done today. Read more about K’s Praxis Center.

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