another McIntosh style list of privileges

Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 16:41:36 EST

Hi everyone! This is the list I wrote after reading Peggy McIntosh's.
You'll note that with the exception of writing about privileges I DON'T
have, as I cannot write an able-bodies knapsack list, this list almost
completely parallels Ms. McIntosh's list. There are a few unique privileges
I address here, however.

I must say, this list is not meant to "whine" "complain" "belittle myself"
"bemoan my 'place' in society" or any of those other unconstructive things
that have been suggested. Rather, it was simply meant to add to the
dialogue about privilege. I fully acknowlegdge that I have Christian
privilege, white privilege, middle-class privilege, and probably more that
I don't even know
about! ;-)

I hope some of you find this interesting, and perhaps useful in your
exploration of the sociology of minority groups, equity, etc.

Amy Kelly


Able-bodied Privilege : Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

I felt just a little strange in writing my own ?laundry list? of privileges
that able-bodied people have that physically challenged people do not,
because after all, Ms. McIntosh took a mind set of male privilege in the
face of privilege she does not have as female, and turned it around into a
discussion of the privilege she DOES have. I, on the other hand , am doing
the opposite and discussion privilege I do not have as a physically
challenged person.

Please note, however, that I am writing this to explore just ONE instance
which someone in the minority does not have privilege, but my purpose is to
explore/illustrate the fact that this list could be extended to any number
of minorities from gays & lesbians to females, religious minorities, etc.
Ms McIntosh makes this point at the end of her discussion, and I am sure
many others of us have thought of another group in particular these issues
may apply to, especially when it is personal as it is in my case (such as
for those of us of a religious minority, those of us who are gay or

So, here is my parallel list written in the negative, rather than to write
as someone other than myself (i.e. an able-bodied person). I have starred
those items that are even more acute issues for people in wheelchairs.

1. I cannot easily arrange to be in the company of people of my physical

2. If I need to move, I cannot easily be assured of purchasing housing I
get access to easily - accessability is one thing I need to make a special
point of looking for. *

3. I cannot be assured that my entire neighborhood will be accessible to

4. I cannot assume that I can go shopping alone, and they will always have
appropriate accomodations to make this experience hassle-free. *

5. I cannot turn on the television or open a newspaper and see people of my
physical ability represented. (This is more so the case for people who walk
on crutches, or who have some sort of physical distortion, as these people
are not as attractive as people sitting neatly in a wheelchair whom you
would not know were handicapped if they were seated in a regular chair.)

6. When I learned about history, people of my physical ability were not
represented. (Roosevelt?s polio was kept out of the media as much as
possible, as is Dole?s and Silber?s amputation --I would be interested in
discussing their decision to ?not make it an issue? with anyone who is

7. I was not given curricular material which showed people like me as a
(Like other minorities, we are only portrayed as either pathetic or heroic,
not ?normal?)

8. This point may be arguable, but I have seen few pieces of literature on
able-bodied privilege.

9. I cannot be assured that assumptions about my mental capabilities will
not be made based on my physical status.

10. I cannot swear, dress sloppily, or even be in a bad mood without people
attributing it to my physical disability.

11. I cannot do well in challenging situations very often without being
what an inspiration I must be to other disabled people.

12. I have been asked to speak for all physically challenged people.

13. I have often, when criticizing an organization for not being
accomodating enough, been thought of as ?mal-adjusted?.

14. I hardly ever, when asking to speak to the person in charge, will find
someone of the same physical status.

15. I cannot buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls,
toys, children?s magazines featuring people of the same physical status.
(Unless it is a ?specialty? book, aimed at ?sensitivity training?, or a pc
doll ?Share a Smile Becky? with the acronym for the Individuals with
Disabilities Act sprawled across her sweater, sending the message ?Don?t
worry, I am always happy - see my ever present smile?? and ?My disability
my sole identity?.

16. I cannot take a job with an affirmative action employer without having
someone suspect I got my job because of my disability.

17. If I am fired, not given a raise, or not hired, I must question if it
had anything to do with my appearing physically incompetent. (although it
doesn?t serve any purpose to question it, because it would be almost
impossible to prove).

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