is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in Western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances. According to McIntosh and Lee, whites in a society considered culturally a part of the Western World enjoy advantages that non-whites do not experience. The term denotes both obvious and less obvious passive advantages that white persons may not recognize they have, which distinguishes it from overt bias or prejudice. These include cultural affirmations of one’s own worth; presumed greater social status; and freedom to move, buy, work, play and speak freely. The effects can be seen in professional, educational, and personal contexts. The concept of white privilege also implies the right to assume the universality of one’s own experiences, marking others as different or exceptional while perceiving oneself as normal.
Academic perspectives such as critical race theory and whiteness studies use the concept of “white privilege” to analyze how racism and racialized societies affect the lives of white people.
Some critics argue that the term uses the concept of “whiteness” as a proxy for class or other social privilege or as a distraction from deeper underlying problems of inequality. Others argue that it is not that whiteness is a proxy but that other social privileges are interconnected with it, requiring complex and careful analysis to identify whiteness’ contributions to privilege. Other critics of the idea propose alternate definitions of whiteness and exceptions to or limits of white identity, arguing that the concept of “white privilege” ignores important differences between white subpopulations and individuals. This means that the notion of whiteness is not inclusive of all white people. Critics of white privilege also note that there is a problem with the interpretation of people of color. That is, it fails to acknowledge the diversity of people of color and ethnicity within these groups.