McIntosh's Band-Aid Can't Cover White Privilege

After the first meeting of our Multicultural Education class we read an article titled, White Privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. In that article, McIntosh eloquently acknowledges the “daily effects of white privilege”. In describing the privileges of her white skin color McIntosh states. “I can choose blemish cover or bandages in (a) ’flesh’ color that more or less matches my skin”. If beauty is only skin deep, apparently only ’white’ skin is beautiful enough to have a Band-Aid made that is the same color.

McIntosh’s commentary is perfectly represented in the 1952 Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid advertisement at right. In the ad a Caucasian woman is depicted with a Band-Aid covering a small portion of her upper arm. Just next to the Band-Aid in the print part of the ad are the words “flesh-colored”. Apparently the good people over at Johnson & Johnson forgot a significant portion of the populous which still, in 2008 almost fifty-five years later, would have a very difficult task in finding a “flesh colored” Band-Aid that matched the hue of their skin. It is an almost ridiculous thing to consider, the shade of a strip of plastic placed over a cut to absorb some of the blood from the wound, yet it subtlety speaks volumes about the prejudice that exists at every conceivable tier of our society.

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