Aloha High School recently made the news with their “White Privilege Survey.” You may have heard that a literature composition teacher handed out a survey in which students rated 13 statements by how true they were based on the student’s race. This went well for the most part, though a small group, mostly parents, found the survey offensive
Concern was expressed that the survey was designed to guilt white students and push a particular brand of political agenda. Others went so far as to suggest home schooling as the best way to protect your children from the misinformation and lies used to facilitate some weird social experiment. In reality, the survey is based on a 1989 essay by Peggy McIntosh, “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”
Instead of speculating any further, I answered all 13 questions myself and scored a 48. I don’t know what that means, but it wasn’t hard and you can find them online. Answering questions involves selecting a 0, 3, or 5 which means the statement is never true, is sometimes true, and is often true for you. The questions range from the race of who you spend the most time with to whether or not your skin color factors into financial transactions with others.
Was it divisive? Maybe a little bit. The title “White Privilege Survey” sets the stage for an “us and them” mindset right off the bat, but…if you can get past that…Take the fifth question, for instance: “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the newspaper and see people of my race widely and positively represented.” Then consider in 2013 Aloha was 60% white while the next largest population, Hispanics, was 24%. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I cannot think of many highly acclaimed, widely popularized Hispanics.
Ultimately, I think a title change would be appropriate. People can and will get defensive when they feel isolated or accused. However, asking questions that encourage people to think about how their lives impact the world around them is good. Hopefully students of all racial makeup learned something about themselves and that solutions take much more than finger-pointing or apathy.
This article by DailyMail has the Aloha Survey if you’d like to take it yourself: DailyMail
Peggy McIntosh’s original 26 questions can be found on TheNationalSEEDProject
By Anthony Vitale