Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963992 | Print ISBN: 9781412906784 | Online ISBN: 9781412963992| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
White privilege refers to a certain set of rights, advantages, exemptions, or immunities available primarily to White persons of European ancestry. The degree to which such privilege is available to be enjoyed may depend on the particular government's social, cultural, political, and economic context in operation at the time. Therefore, White privilege is sensitive to time and location. For example, contemporary American society is rooted in a historical system of legalized discrimination against people of color. Skin color and country of origin were once used to determine one's right to property (both material and intellectual) ownership and social, political, and economic mobility. In fact, Africans brought to America as chattel slaves were counted as property and were written into the U.S. Constitution as three-fifths human. Some scholars have even referred to “Whiteness” as property. All people were categorized according to a color-coded classification system, which developed into a hierarchy of ...