Whiteness

When it comes to race, many White people think it's a people of color problem, if they think about race at all.  If you identify as White, and you are reading this, ask yourself how often you think about your race on a regular basis?  Many White people I know usually say they don't think about their race very much.  This is a classic indicator of having privilege in society, when you don't have to think about an identity that others think of all of the time.  It is important for people who are White to understand that they too have culture.  The only difference is that White culture is considered 'mainstream', and so the norms of the culture are embedded in the fabric of our country.  In addition, talking about race has the tendency to make some White people feel guilty about their privilege, or feel angry that they are constantly being attacked about their Whiteness.  These are feelings I've seen time and again by people who feel overwhelmed by the race discussion.  There are two important things I would say all White people should know in regards to this topic.  First, there is no need to feel guilty or angry because you happen to be White.  Just like people of color did not choose their heritage, neither did White people.  Second, although you personally may not be guilty of any wrongdoing, people who've identified as White since our country's founding have done some really terrible things that were intended to keep Whites in power.  Unfortunately as a White person, you have inherited that legacy whether you like it or not.  Although you can't change the past, you can make a positive impact on the future.  As a person with racial privilege in society, it's important to recongnize this and contribute to strong solutions, rather than allowing guilt or anger to cloud the path to justice.  The book 'Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race' by Debby Irving is a book I think all White people can learn from.  I strongly recommend reading it in order to gain more perspective and help with your internal racial reflection.

Copyright Tiye Sherrod

2020: All rights reserved.

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