New Entry for the White Privilege Check List

You’ll remember the White Privilege Checklist  by Peggy MacIntosh that has such entries as the following:

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

4. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

Some of these may seem out-of-date now, but there are new ones, including:

              If I need some extra cash in China, I can rent myself out to enhance scenes by playing a role or even just providing a white face.** 

From CNN:

For a day, a weekend, a week, up to even a month or two, Chinese companies are willing to pay high prices for fair-faced foreigners to join them as fake employees or business partners.

Some call it “White Guy Window Dressing.” To others, it’s known as the “White Guy in a Tie” events, “The Token White Guy Gig,” or, simply, a “Face Job.”

And it is, essentially, all about the age-old Chinese concept of face. To have a few foreigners hanging around means a company has prestige, money and the increasingly crucial connections — real or not — to businesses abroad.

So two questions:

Does anyone feel as though they do something comparable, but more or less for free?  (Think: showing up in a group of faculty supposedly thrilled that Prof. Never Give Up won some prize.  With the press there.)

If we show up to provide faces for free, does it become wrong if one is paid?  Or is it that pretending to be pleased is OK, but pretending to be an interested wealthy foreigner is not? Even if one’s pretending to be pleased might give people the impression that there’s more significant research at one’s university than there is? 

Here’s CNN’s clip; it is not exactly enthralling:


**From what I understand,  skin whitening products are popular in China, so the impact of privilege may be even more serious than the surface suggests.

3 thoughts on “New Entry for the White Privilege Check List

  1. In Japan, if you’re a white male and can memorize Japanese texts, you can always get a job as a “priest” for a wedding. Apparently, people like Hollywood-style weddings, and for that you need a white dress for the bride and white minister for the officiating.

    I imagine this line of work will be coming soon to China and Korea, if it hasn’t already.

  2. i would think that it is p macintosh’s money that enables her
    choices in housing/locale rather than skin colour. i’m white
    and that has never helped me with either of those. financial
    circumstances dictate where i live, nothing else, and to suggest otherwise is insulting and coming from a place of
    financial privilege as well as ignorance.

  3. I disagree, jaine. I think it’s just that the point is a little out-dated now what with chronic housing shortages which were unheard of when the original list was compiled. However, I think it does still stand up because if you were black and poor you would have even less success securing appropriate housing in the current climate. It is exactly white privilege which prevented you from stopping to consider that.

Comments are closed.