this may have been dealt w/ before, however i am reposting part of it, and will add my insight to this topic:
-Peggy McIntosh an associate director of the Wellesley Collage Center for Research on Women.
My schooling gave me no training in seeing myself as an oppressor, as an unfairly advantaged person, or as a participant in a damaged culture. I was taught to see myself as an individual whose moral state depended on her individual moral will. My schooling followed the pattern my colleague Elizabeth Minnich has pointed out: whites are taught to think of their lives as morally neutral, normative, and average, and also ideal, so that when we work to benefit others, this is seen as work which will allow "them" to be more like "us".
I decided to try to work on myself at least by identifying some of the daily effects of white privilege in my life. I have chosen those conditions which I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographical location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can see, my African American coworkers, friends and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place, and line of work cannot count on most of these conditions.
I usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck. Yet some of the conditions I have described here work to systematically overempower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one's race or sex.
I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals,the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world's majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to "the person in charge," I will be facing a person of my race.
If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven't been singled out because of my race.
I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, out numbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.
I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.
I can choose blemish cover or bandages in flesh color and have them more or less match my skin.
I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote it down. For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one's life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.
In unpacking this invisible knapsack of white privilege, I have listed conditions of daily experience which I once took for granted. Nor did I think of any of these prequisites as bad for the holder. I now think that we need a more finely differentiated taxonomy of privilege, for some of these varieties are only what one would want for everyone in a just society, and others give license to be ignorant.
I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a pattern of assumptions which were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turf, and I was among those who could control the turf. My skin color was an asset for any move I was educated to want to make. I could think of myself as belonging in major ways, and of making social systems work for me. I could freely disparage, fear, neglect, or be oblivious to anything outside of the dominant cultural forms. Being of the main culture, I could also criticize it fairly freely.
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