White Privilege: The Marketing of the American Social Class and Education

White Privilege: The Marketing of the American Social Class and Education



by Jamie DiMarco


The initiative behind the current education system is to promote social mobility and equal opportunity. The reality of it, however, seems to detail a more dangerous actuality, as our educational system markets an image–the American image–that is prized and epitomized and allows the consumer to personalize it just enough to believe it’s of their own creation. It’s effortless for someone free of the demarcation of skin color and social class to offer their critiques of current societal issues because white privilege offers a very simple, straightforward path: Go to school, graduate, get a job and bam! Welcome to the American Dream.

Power, status, and consumer credit granted. And there exists dramatic stereo-types of people who fail to follow the formula: Trashy. Entitled. Criminal. Education is marketed and sold as the quick fix to bettering oneself and is the perceived hallmark of all hard working, ambitious, and successful people. Social conditioning works –nothing enforces and justifies the divisions among race, social class and other economic injustices more than our education system. White privilege seals this divide, as it blinds so many by trapping them in a fantasy that manipulates social injustice to be viewed as a consequence of not following the social order. And there is plenty of buy-in from all classes to keep it so.

How is this barrier to be overcome? Is this as hopeless as it seems? One of the biggest lessons, here, revolves around how identity is created and perpetuated. The problem with our education system is systemic, not personal, though it may feel personal. The system, at the risk of sounding cliché, is running the show. And who is running the system? Complacency and apathy exist on all sides. And it’s too easy for those basking in the protection and sweets of the ivory tower to blame and criticize without experiencing the impact of their superficial and callous observations. Change starts with the way we see ourselves. How do we create our individual identities?

Are we victims, pawns in a socio-economic infrastructure? How do we find common ground and speak in the same language to promote real and equal opportunity? Reject the status quo. Reject the definitions and labels not found deep within the heart of the knowledge of realized humanness. Reject hopelessness. Real education comes from the experiences of rejecting someone else’s definition of personal identity and accepting nothing less than what is deserved.

The path is hard, but no person has caused real change walking around blindfolded and ignorant. White privilege is a delusional and dangerous disease – one that many fear to treat as such, and a disease that is glorified in our educational infrastructure. Challenging this, openly, may seem to be an impossible task, but there is no other way if we wish to persevere and thrive.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Civil Disobedience

Jamie DiMarco, LMSW works as a mental health therapist for the Rochester area, specializing in at-risk, urban populations.