The Racism Root Kit: Understanding the Insidiousness of White Privilege

Despite efforts to increase racial awareness, Whites continue to display limitations in their ability
to acknowledge their racist transgressions when confronted. Seemingly open-minded Whites
continue to display what many authors have defined as “racial microaggressions” yet display an
unwillingness to explore the antecedents to their behavior once challenged. What are the
mechanisms that Whites utilize that prevent them from being open to considering underlying
motivations of their behaviors? Failure to acknowledge the invisible Whiteness of being, the
myth of meritocracy, and the associated privileges that come from White superiority play a
significant role in preventing the establishment of empathic connections with people of color.
Using the metaphor of a computer root program, which remains hidden from the operating
system, designed to conceal itself from the overall operating system, a set of racist behaviors,
representing a “racist root kit” are highlighted that can serve as an explanation for the difficulties
Whites have when confronted with their behavior.

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