Friday, May 11, 2018

Free Fiction Fridays!

I have a few short stories on Wattpad lingering and since I seem to have more traffic on my blog, I'm going to try something new called #FFF or #FreeFictionFridays. I'll leave a short story or a chapter every Friday, and if you blog and would like to join me, please do! And leave a link in the comments, I'll happily visit your blog to read. 
This story is from a vision I kept having from about the age of five, the light through the trees, the helicopters, with no idea why this visual returned over and over, I used the image like paint and clay and sculpted a scene.  #SFF

What They Leave Behind  
Kylie is being blamed for Sadie's disappearance, and no one is buying his alien story. How will he prove his innocence? 
I remember hearing a helicopter. The leaves soaked in sunshine made them translucent, but I couldn't see anything. A clear summer day, and I was playing with friends near the Airforce base. Helicopters certainly weren't unusual.
The only time I left their sight was when I went under that tree for a little privacy. Helicopters, and sunlight, that was my only recollection. When I came out, one of my friends shouted, "What happened to your head?"
Sure enough, I reached until I found the wet, warm spot, and had a look. Blood! My head didn't hurt. And I had no idea what happened. I didn't remember being scared. I know now, the head bleeds profusely, but this happened when I was seven years old.
I walked with my friends to the base; my mom approached me, fast and frightened, asking what had happened.
"That's probably when it started, Doctor Murphy, the missing time. Isn't that what they say?"
"The Abducted. They always mention missing time, and."
I stopped. I wasn't sure what they said. I might have heard Dillon say something, once. Dillon's been trying to keep me sane through this.
"What about the other time, with Sadie?" he asked.
"That's what we're here for ... " I settled back into the chair. I knew he'd make me go through it again. I much preferred the times when I couldn't remember anything. This wasn't going to be fun.
"Sadie and I were walking, out on 9D. Pretty dark, you know. It was last Monday, just after the sunset. There are always lights, by the way, floating around, especially right before they come."
I had to take a breath. I couldn't control this wavering pain in my stomach, the wave machine, and my hands were shaking. I rubbed the sweat on my pants and re-crossed my legs, stiff from sitting here too long. I'd hate to lie down, never know if he wiped the couch.
"Just go slow," he said.
Yes slow, the images always run in slow motion.
"The darkness was unreal. With the new moon, you could see the stars to infinity. We started walking toward the river, and first, our legs slowed, then our arms. I looked at her and everything on Sadie's face vibrated, every line and wrinkle. And then the lines on the trees vibrated like maybe they were slowing down, too. Or their matter was breaking up? It's hard to put into words. Dillon said that's what happens."
"And you and Sadie hadn't been drinking? Or anything?"
He did that fatherly thing again, where his glasses dropped down his nose.
What if we did use drugs? We didn't, but come on. It's a judgment call. He's calling it.
I watched out his office window. His daughter was playing with dolls near the woods.
"That's when we saw it," I said.
"And when they took her?" He flexed his jowls as he took notes.
He loved this part and wanted me to say it again. I nodded. "They said they were watching, and that Sadie had a contract with them."
"That's what they told you?"
"Yes, not like we talked, but they did. They said her family had a contract from years ago. Why don't you ask them a few questions? Honestly, I think you really should."
I couldn't breathe again. I watched the little girl through the window. Dust particles floated through the beam of sunlight. I wanted to float away with the dust.
"Why do you suppose they didn't take you?" he asks.
"Said they did, many times. Guess my number wasn't up for this trip?" I laughed, sort of. But it wasn't funny. My nerves were impossible to settle. They're always watching. I screamed for them to release her.
"That was only a week ago ... "
"Yes. Well, Kylie, you're still under investigation for Sadie's disappearance. I believe you, somehow, I do. I've heard a case or two, similar to yours, and yes, there was missing time with those cases, but how to get the police to believe it, and a lawyer, not so easy."
"Unless she comes back," I said.
He looked at me; man, he can drop eyeglasses on a dime, and said, "Yes, if she comes back."
"They hang around military bases, you know, like the one in Maine, where I lived as a kid."
Doctor Murphy stood up. "The officers are here." He put his clipboard down, and briefly checked on his daughter from the window. Then he went to greet the officers, waiting in the next room.
"Time's up," said officer Frank.
I was already standing, and he took my arms by force. I didn't resist. Doctor Murphy winced.
They could hang me for this.
I told them everything I saw. How she split in two: one bubble and one transparent body. Her "earthly" body or whatever you call it, disappeared - poof, without a trace. I'm the only trace. Everything leads to me.
Doctor Murphy said he believed me, but I don't buy it. I'm escorted, or more accurately, towed, to the police car. Head shoved under and in, like a deranged killer. Or someone they think is trying to get by on an insanity charge.
Where's the body? Just tell us where the body is? That's what they'd asked. I stopped telling them what happened to her body.
Once, years ago, listening to the radio the music changed to a song that answered a question on my mind. It got my attention. The lights flickered and I knew they were there. "How long have you been doing this?" I whispered.
The Cindy Lauper song, Time After Time played. The station was set to a rock-n-roll only broadcast.
"For years?" I asked in response to the song's title. "What did you do to me when I was seven-years-old?"
You are here to help, this earthy role is not your own. You wanted it this way. It's not good to know too much, or you won't want to stay.
I felt lighter after that and it lasted a couple years. But when my dog was killed, I knew it could only be them. All the blood drained from his terrier body. Why my dog? Never an explanation just cruelty.
And they were sloppy, leaving a sticky residue. The bioluminescent fluid they leave behind like slugs. Even left traces of it on the radio dial after our "conversation".
What if the police found bioluminescent residue near the river? Would that create enough doubt? They'd investigated during the day. Maybe they never saw it glow at night?
"I need to call my lawyer," I said through the wire mesh.
"Yes, at the station."
When we arrived they shut me into a holding tank. I waited for my parents to come with the lawyer. I was innocent. No one believed what really happened.
Why make me suffer you bully-aliens? You couldn't stick around to take the heat? Gonna let the human go down for it?
The bunk was cold and without a blanket to keep warm I crossed my arms and started to cry. I was lost. Even Dillon couldn't help.
A ball of light floated into the room. It bounced about and settled at the foot of the bunk.
"You're crying," it was Sadie's voice.
"Sadie, is that you?"
"Yes, Kylie, I can see you."
"Are you all right?"
"I'm perfect. But you ... I had no idea."
"What? That you could disappear without a trace and I wouldn't look suspicious?"
"You're going to be fine," she said.
"What are they doing to you?"
"I'm fulfilling my agreement. My parents will come. And you, Kyle, have a family here. They're waiting for your "timing". The time must be right or the cross-pattern will hiccup, and mess-up all the timelines," she said, her voice growing distant.
"I have a family?"
"Yes, two boys and a daughter. Your daughter plays with mine."
I sat up on the hard cot and looked around. Was I hallucinating? The light orb grew larger and I saw Sadie through the sheen. Glowing, like an otherworldly God. She smiled.
"I have a family?"
"Yes, Kylie and your dog is here with them."
I rubbed my eyes. Rubbed them until eyelashes fell off.
"When do I get to see them?" I asked, despite the impossibility.
"Are you ready to leave your parents in this world? They won't remember until they die what happened to you."
I nodded.
"Come, Kylie, fall into the orb. I will bring you to them. It's a little soon, but we decided we could not let you continue to suffer, for what you didn't do."
The light orb danced up and down and grew larger. Sadie stood there, bright as day, looking much the same only more beautiful and filled with a brighter light.
Footsteps came down the hall. I think I heard my mother's voice. I would miss my family."
"Come, Kylie. The conduit is closing."
I stood up and leaped into the orb. The cell door opened. My father and the guard came in first and then my mother. They must have seen something because Mom put her hands over her mouth and the guard reached into the air and came away empty-handed. Their heads were now fixed on the ceiling.
I floated with Sadie in the orb. Dad yelled that the light was too bright and Momma began to cry. She screamed my name while clutching at the air.
I wanted to tell her I'd see her again.
The End

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Writers and Loneliness

As a full-time writer, some days feel I’m on the outside looking in. The buffet has been set before me, but where’s my seat?  

I write at my day job, the family café, and it’s by no means alone. While not always the easiest place to concentrate, with the random visitors. I’m thankful I’m not sequestered away, hidden in my dark apartment.

The loneliness, the insecurity, the silence, and the doubts, all writers go through this at some point. I was delighted discovering the name for this malaise and uncertainty. I have my writing groups to discuss anything publishing, but still, it’s hard knowing when to bug them or allow time to pass. 

Where to turn?  Inside.    

One less way to be consumed by fears and doubt -- Write it out!

Everyone has a struggle, whether it’s publishing or personal. I find returning to my journal to explore my fears and doubts has helped. Growing up, I always kept a diary. My single- immigrant mother raised us and surviving was a blessing. Eating a wholesome meal was a blessing. Writing in journals saved my creativity in many ways, and reading the journals years later I’ve gleaned a greater awareness about younger me: the patterns of behavior when the second-guessing strikes, and not be too hard on myself because I see the patterns.

An inspiring quote, by biologist and author Rachel Carson. We’re by no means alone.

You are wise enough to understand that being “a little lonely” is not a bad thing. A writer’s occupation is one of the loneliest in the world, even if the loneliness is only an inner solitude and isolation, for that he must have at times if he is to be truly creative. And so I believe only the person who knows and is not afraid of loneliness should aspire to be a writer. But there are also rewards that are rich and peculiarly satisfying.



Tuesday, April 24, 2018

YA Review: Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton

Heart of ThornsHeart of Thorns by Bree Barton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a repost from my review on Kidliterati. 

In a Kingdom where “Gods forbid a woman ever express a sound belief” two sisters, 17-year-old Mia Rose and 15-year-old Angelyne, challenge this belief. Mia wants to be a Huntress, not married off to the prince and continue her mission fighting Gwyrach and their menacing magic.

The girls of the Kaer Killian wear gloves, for the fear anyone one of them could be a murderous Gwyrach, and a threat. “Women who, through their touch could manipulate the flesh, bone, breath, and blood of their victims.”

Mia Rose prepares for her escape; her father, who loved her mother, now dead, has forced her into a loveless marriage. Only “She has work to do and a sister to save.”
Her sister’s fighting a mysterious illness, since staying in the ancient citadel carved from a mountain of ice, her lady in waiting during the month-long engagement.

A demon, half-god, half-human, killed her mother and destroyed their lives. It’s Mia’s mission to find that Gwyrach once they escape. But her sister, Angelyne won’t go, and Mia can’t leave her behind. She insists the life Mia hates and wants to escape isn’t so bad.

Mia’s marriage to the prince continues as planned. Even after overhearing him call her dangerous. During the wedding dinner, Mia vows to strike fear in every living Gwyrach, once she’s princess.

Her father secretly hands Mia her mother’s journal. Her mother wanted Mia to have it when she was ready. She discovers her mother’s secrets as the blank pages reveal what she needs to know in due time. Changing all her preconceived beliefs.

Five hundred pairs of eyes await the union, marking the alliance of two great houses. The prince falls into Mia’s arms, wounded by an arrow, and they make their escape. When Mia tries to save his life, her entire world is thrown into chaos, and the adventure is just getting started.

A gorgeously written fantasy with nail-biting suspense, and twists that’ll leave your mouth gaping. A familiar world, a little too familiar, where powerful women and girls are seen as dangerous, feared, and kept bottled up, or on display. Many of the truths are painfully similar to the struggles of our time. Written with a poignant message about feminism and love.

Sometimes love is the stronger choice.

*Wish I could format the italics properly.

View all my reviews

Friday, April 20, 2018

Reality Check!

I haven’t posted much over the last couple months, drafting two new manuscripts, one’s a YA, and with a beta reader, the other a middle-grade I’ve started revising. Some days it feels like I’m running out of time.
Do you ever feel this way, as a writer?
I’m fortunate the years of wrestling for writing time finally produced. Maybe it’s my age, (the fear of death) the spinning of the Earth, or moving toward the galactic center, but I cannot write fast enough.

Or it could be I’m hiding in my writing to escape the world!
But it doesn’t last.
When the pages of my fictional world close, the world around me opens.

Today’s reality check was the Student Walk Out! I stand in solidarity!

The NRA is a terrorist organization.  #NeverAgain

While the so-called leaders, ruin our democracy, I find hope and leadership in the children of the USA. Go, Team!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

We Marched!

For Our Lives. 
For the Children! 

We Marched for Our Friends

Off We Go! 

Me and My Sign! 
Hard to Believe, But it's True!

The Tens of Thousands Walk Down CPW! 

We Ran Into Friends. 

And Across the Wold Millions Marched for Change, to Save Lives, Create Common Sense Gun Regulation -- Regulate them like everything else in this country.  #NeverAgain  

My uterus is more regulated by people in Congress than GUNS! One of my favorite protest signs!

                                                            Veterans For Peace Flags. 


Friday, March 23, 2018

MG Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141 Street

The Vanderbeekers of 141st StreetThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A repost from my review on the Kidliterati Blog

When the Vanderbeeker children of 141 Street in Harlem discover their landlord isn’t renewing the lease, they strike out with inventive ways to convince him otherwise. Only he isn’t going to be easy to convince, he never leaves his third-floor apartment, and he’s grouchy and scary.

It’s Christmastime in the city. Mr. Vanderbeeker calls a meeting and explains to his five biracial children, along with their dog, a cat, and house rabbit that they have to leave the neighborhood they’ve grown up in. The friendly neighborhood where they know every clerk and shop owner. It’s the worst time to be homeless.

Distraught beyond comprehension, one by one, each of the five Vanderbeeker children, Oliver, the twins Jessie and Isa, and Laney and Hyacinth come up with clever ideas that are sure to melt the landlord, Mr. Beiderman’s heart. Only nothing works, even when the entire neighborhood signs a petition to help save their home.

It’s an all-out love assault. But will anything stop the Beiderman?

Such a delightful and heartwarming story that reminded me of the feeling I had reading books as a child. A classic. Each of the Vanderbeeker’s children will find their way into your heart with their charms and creativity. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden. (Sept. 25, 2018)

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Unpacking White Privilege.

After seeing this tweet:

... about a Wisconsin school prohibiting a conversation about White Privilege, I thought I'd better share "Unpacking Your White Privilege" on my blog.

by Peggy McIntosh is associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women. (more about the excerpt at the end of post)

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
•   Daily effects of white privilege
•   Elusive and fugitive
•   Earned strength, unearned power 

•   "I was taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group" 
~ Peggy McIntosh. 
Through work to bring materials from women's studies into the rest of the curriculum, I have often noticed men's unwillingness to grant that they are overprivileged, even though they may grant that women are disadvantaged. They may say they will work to women's status, in the society, the university, or the curriculum, but they can't or won't support the idea of lessening men's. Denials that amount to taboos surround the subject of advantages that men gain from women's disadvantages. These denials protect male privilege from being fully acknowledged, lessened, or ended. 
Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there is most likely a phenomenon, I realized that, since hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there was most likely a phenomenon of white privilege that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage. 
I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was "meant" to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks. 
Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable. As we in women's studies work to reveal male privilege and ask men to give up some of their power, so one who writes about having white privilege must ask, "having described it, what will I do to lessen or end it?" 
After I realized the extent to which men work from a base of unacknowledged privilege, I understood that much of their oppressiveness was unconscious. Then I remembered the frequent charges from women of color that white women whom they encounter are oppressive. I began to understand why we are just seen as oppressive, even when we don't see ourselves that way. I began to count the ways in which I enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence.
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 that will allow "them" to be more like "us."

Daily effects of white privilege

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 that I think in my case attach somewhat more to skin-color privilege than to class, religion, ethnic status, or geographic location, though of course all these other factors are intricately intertwined. As far as I can tell, my African American coworkers, friends, and acquaintances with whom I come into daily or frequent contact in this particular time, place and time of work cannot count on most of these conditions.
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.
3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.
6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization," I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.
9. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.
11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person's voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.
12. 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.
13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.
15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.
16. I can be pretty sure that my children's teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others' attitudes toward their race.
17. I can talk with my mouth full and not have people put this down to my color.
18. 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.
19. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
22. 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.
23. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior without being seen as a cultural outsider.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.
28. I can be pretty sure that an argument with a colleague of another race is more likely to jeopardize her/his chances for advancement than to jeopardize mine.
29. I can be pretty sure that if I argue for the promotion of a person of another race, or a program centering on race, this is not likely to cost me heavily within my present setting, even if my colleagues disagree with me.
30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn't a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.
32. My culture gives me little fear about ignoring the perspectives and powers of people of other races.
33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.
34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.
35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.
37. I can be pretty sure of finding people who would be willing to talk with me and advise me about my next steps, professionally.
38. I can think over many options, social, political, imaginative or professional, without asking whether a person of my race would be accepted or allowed to do what I want to do.
39. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.
40. 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.
41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
42. I can arrange my activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my race.
43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.
44. I can easily find academic courses and institutions which give attention only to people of my race.
45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.
46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in "flesh" color and have them more or less match my skin.
47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.
48. I have no difficulty finding neighborhoods where people approve of our household.
49. My children are given texts and classes, which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.
50. I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

Elusive and fugitive
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 that I once took for granted. Nor did I think of any of these perquisites 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, oblivious, arrogant, and destructive.
I see a pattern running through the matrix of white privilege, a patter of assumptions that were passed on to me as a white person. There was one main piece of cultural turf; it was my own turn, 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.
In proportion as my racial group was being made confident, comfortable, and oblivious, other groups were likely being made unconfident, uncomfortable, and alienated. Whiteness protected me from many kinds of hostility, distress, and violence, which I was being subtly trained to visit, in turn, upon people of color.
For this reason, the word "privilege" now seems to me misleading. We 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 systematically to over empower certain groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one's race or sex.

Earned strength, unearned power
I want, then, to distinguish between earned strength and unearned power conferred privilege can look like strength when it is in fact permission to escape or to dominate. But not all of the privileges on my list are inevitably damaging. Some, like the expectation that neighbors will be decent to you, or that your race will not count against you in court, should be the norm in a just society. Others, like the privilege to ignore less powerful people, distort the humanity of the holders as well as the ignored groups.
We might at least start by distinguishing between positive advantages, which we can work to spread, and negative types of advantage, which unless rejected will always reinforce our present hierarchies. For example, the feeling that one belongs within the human circle, as Native Americans say, should not be seen as privilege for a few. Ideally, it is an unearned entitlement. At present, since only a few have it, it is an unearned advantage for them. This paper results from a process of coming to see that some of the power that I originally saw as an attendant on being a human being in the United States consisted in unearned advantage and conferred dominance.
I have met very few men who truly distressed about systemic, unearned male advantage and conferred dominance. And so one question for me and others like me is whether we will be like them, or whether we will get truly distressed, even outraged, about unearned race advantage and conferred dominance, and, if so, what we will do to lessen them. In any case, we need to do more work in identifying how they actually affect our daily lives. Many, perhaps most, of our white students in the United States think that racism doesn't affect them because they are not people of color; they do not see "whiteness" as a racial identity. In addition, since race and sex are not the only advantaging systems at work, we need similarly to examine the daily experience of having the age advantage, or ethnic advantage, or physical ability, or advantage related to nationality, religion, or sexual orientation.
Difficulties and angers surrounding the task of finding parallels are many. Since racism, sexism, and heterosexism are not the same, the advantages associated with them should not be seen as the same. In addition, it is hard to disentangle aspects of unearned advantage that rest more on social class, economic class, race, religion, sex, and ethnic identity that on other factors. Still, all of the oppressions are interlocking, as the members of the Combahee River Collective pointed out in their "Black Feminist Statement" of 1977.
One factor seems clear about all of the interlocking oppressions. They take both active forms, which we can see, and embedded forms, which as a member of the dominant groups one is taught not to see. In my class and place, I did not see myself as a racist because I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth.
Disapproving of the system won't be enough to change them. I was taught to think that racism could end if white individuals changed their attitude. But a "white" skin in the United States opens many doors for whites whether or not we approve of the way dominance has been conferred on us. Individual acts can palliate but cannot end, these problems.
To redesign social systems we need first to acknowledge their colossal unseen dimensions. The silences and denials surrounding privilege are the key political surrounding privilege are the key political tool here. They keep the thinking about equality or equity incomplete, protecting unearned advantage and conferred dominance by making these subject taboo. Most talk by whites about equal opportunity seems to me now to be about equal opportunity to try to get into a position of dominance while denying that systems of dominance exist.
It seems to me that obliviousness about white advantage, like obliviousness about male advantage, is kept strongly inculturated in the United States so as to maintain the myth of meritocracy, the myth that democratic choice is equally available to all. Keeping most people unaware that freedom of confident action is there for just a small number of people props up those in power and serves to keep power in the hands of the same groups that have most of it already.
Although systemic change takes many decades, there are pressing questions for me and, I imagine, for some others like me if we raise our daily consciousness on the perquisites of being light-skinned. What will we do with such knowledge? As we know from watching men, it is an open question whether we will choose to use unearned advantage and whether we will use any of our arbitrarily awarded power to try to reconstruct power systems on a broader base.

 This essay is excerpted from Working Paper 189. "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in

Women's Studies" (1988), by Peggy McIntosh; available for $4.00 from the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, Wellesley MA 02181 The working paper contains a longer list of privileges.
This excerpted essay is reprinted from the Winter 1990 issue of Independent School.