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Posted on May 1st, 2014, by

In the period of global civil rights movement which was intended to defend the equality of people’s rights without judging by skin colour Affirmative action policy became the issue for discussion and provoked even more evident opposition of black and white people. The idea of affirmative action policy was providing more opportunities for people who used to be discriminated or limited in their opportunities. It was suggested to be implemented at schools, universities and among employers. A kind of quota was offered for black skin students and employees. They had to have more guarantee of entering a university or getting a good job opportunity. So, both on mandatory or voluntary basis the quota principle was practiced in different institutions. However, instead of satisfying people, it provoked an opposition as it started being associated with reverse discrimination’ (Hardisty, 1999). This policy was not successful as it did not supported and guaranteed the equality of civil rights for people independently from their skin colour but provided privilege for people with black skin colour or women who used to be discriminated earlier.


Based on the quotes listed below and in an essay format, consider the following definitions. What are the differences between them? How do they compare with the dictionary definition of \”privilege\”? \”unearned power conferred systemically\”

(Source: Peggy McIntosh, 1995) .white privilege (hwait ‘privilidz), social relation, [ad. L. privilegi-um a bill or law in favor of or against an individual.]


1. a. A right, advantage, or immunity granted to or enjoyed by the class of white persons beyond the common advantage of all others; an exemption in many particular cases from certain burdens or liabilities.

b. In extended sense: A special advantage or benefit of white persons; with ideological reference to divine dispensations, natural advantages, gifts of fortune, genetic endowments, social relations, etc.


2. A privileged position; the possession of an advantage white persons enjoy over non-whites and white individuals enjoy over non-white individuals.


3. a. The special right or immunity attaching to white persons as a social relation; prerogative.

b. display of white privilege, a social expression of a white person or persons demanding to be treated as a member or members of the socially privileged class.

(Source: The Monkeyfist Collective) .Reprinted from  FRONTLINE Teacher’s Center at: Student Assignment Sheet: A Class Divided


Racial discrimination may be defined in different ways, labeling as right’, immunity’, advantage’, benefit’, prerogative’ etc. however, it does not change its initial sense. It is unfair and has not biological or any other scientifical background. Speaking about various definitions of racial discrimination they all have a common component advantage or domination of white people over black people’. Thus, it testifies about the roots of the phenomenon and its historical background. However, it should be noted that the term is not always associated with white-black people opposition but it displays more global character and is spread much deeper in the community. It concerns people of different skin colors. As for the difference between the definitions, they lie in the variety of character of the phenomenon. Different sources may give it as a right’, immunity’, a benefit’, an advantage’, a position’, a prerogative’. Being aware of the fact that race is socially constructed it is reasonable to note that a definition which contains social expression’ and socially privileged class’ is closer to the essence of the term. However, including the component right’ into the definition does not sound quite relevant as racial discrimination is not encouraged by any legislative act or other legal document while it is even prohibited.

The provided definition of privilege’ reflects a generalized approach to the definition of racial discrimination’ and reveals the essence of all the provided definitions for racial discrimination’. Neither of the definitions emphasizes that the advantage’ is somehow justified and earned. Thus, unearned’ refers to all of the definitions.

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