Commentary on “Invisible Priviledge”

The article by Paula S. Rothenberg poses the questions of “why is priviledge often invisible” and “what categories of people are more or less likely to be aware of it?” The story centers around a white mother (Paula) and her daughter (Andrea) and a black mother (Carol) and her daughter (Jewel). The two little girls had been friends since kindergarten and it wasn’t discovered until the girls were mid-way through third grade that Jewel’s mother had falsified her address to get Jewel into a good school. Carol did this for three reasons. First of all she, like most parents, wanted her child to
have a  quality education and, second and lastly, she was black and poor. So, the issues seem to hinge mainly on the disparity of class, race and economics, at first glance. The point Ms. Rothenberg is
trying to make is that, if we look deeper, we see a system that is set up to keep this division in place and make it more difficult for non-whites to improve their status in society. Blacks and hispanics,
according to the article, work just as hard if not harder than whites yet make 45% less per anum. Non-whites have a harder time finding better jobs or affording better housing, schools or medical care.
This condition has been going on for so long that it has become the “norm” in our society. Even today, whites (the dominant culture) have easier and better access to higher paying jobs, better schools and more affordable housing, and we (whites) take all this for
granted. Those who struggle against this well established form of oppression have been aware of this predjudice for generations.

The first and only time Andrea went to Jewels house, she experienced a
type of “culture shock” that left her not only uncomfortable, but also unable to relate or interact in any way she was familiar with. To Andrea, the environment, customs, mannerisms and ways of
communicating were completely alien. Sadly, their friendship ended that day. If Andrea had continued to see her friend Jewel, she would have become familiar with those customs and mannerisms and gained a whole new understanding of Jewel’s culture.

Invisible Priviledge is not a new concept. Whether you view the word priviledge
as a special advantage, permission, right or benefit, it has always been a part of our society. Everything in our world has a hierarchy. Everything has a polarity. It is our nature to catagorize things and put them in some sort of order. The prevailing culture, and the subcultures within that society will assign values to those catagories and treat them accordingly.

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