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Dr. Peggy McIntosh

Dr. Peggy McIntoshDr. Peggy McIntosh made famous the term “white privilege” with her 1988 essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. When I reached out to Peggy early in my process, she advised, “You must write about yourself and only yourself. That’s what you know best and people will find it compelling.” Throughout my writing process, I’d hear her voice interrupting me to ask, “Are you speaking from your own experience here?” Since our first meeting, she has shared with me writings, cautioned me about misusing my privilege, and stressed to me the importance of language. A favorite example of her use of language and imagery is the idea that one doesn’t unlearn racism, but rather can try to outgrow aspects of it. “I see that I will never outgrow what I have come to think of as my hard drive attitudes and assumptions, ”she explained,“ but when I install the alternative software I discover that I have outgrown some of them or can talk to myself about figuring out how to outgrow them. The alternative software allows me to see or study them.” From a background similar to mine, she’s modeled for me how to engage in this work without falling into white, upper-middle class habits without recognizing this.