Peggy McIntosh's Invisible Knapsack, 2017, stoneware (bisque-fired)
Institutionalized systems that work to privilege one group of people over the other are insidious in that White America doesn’t experience it, making privilege hard to acknowledge and address, thus casting doubt on the accounts and needs of non-whites. I saw this play out during a recent and extremely upsetting conversation with someone who, after seeing the food desert plate, let me know they could not understand what privilege had to do with grocery stores.
Large grocery stores, they explained, aren’t going to set up shop in a food dessert because it is not good business – the community can’t afford to shop there. Gas stations carry bread and milk, and that should be enough for the basics, and they must obviously get to the other stores somehow. Besides, the reason there are so many unhealthy food options in their communities is because that is what they want to eat anyway.
This frustrating exchange left me feeling many things, but reinforced for me the need for these conversations, and illuminated Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack of White Privilege. White eyes like mine have a hard time seeing white privilege in action, so I made a plate with several of her examples as an easy reference, and I propose a new one to the list, that I can shop at a grocery store and access fresh foods without having to leave my neighborhood.