Being white makes race discussions difficult

1238966_517364008355100_820691340_nAllen Hester
Cheyenne, WY

I have been involved in a speech in debate program for 5 years now (4 years in high school and 1 in college), so I have been surrounded by intelligent kids questioning, arguing, and persuading others to see things in a different light. This is also where I saw the most diversity. Being a kid who grew up in the mid west, the only time I saw a ton of different cultures was when I was traveling to different states and competing. While politics and other social issues are often used in the debate realm, racism is also talked about quite frequently.

If you don’t know a lot about speech and debate, then you should know, speech also includes Acting and Interpretation events where a student takes a book, play, or other literature and performs it competitively. Imagine cutting the best parts out of a book and mashing it together into a 10 minute performance. Usually these stories have some kind of societal lesson or relevance that leaves the audience with something to take away. Being that speech has a widening array of different students joining it, you see many people finding stories that they can relate to and connect with. This has lead to me watching tons of different stories about people of all colors and backgrounds.

These have lead to some really eye opening and amazing performances. it gives students the ability to become whatever story they felt moved by. What better way to have kids connect with literature then to have them perform it and become it. As I competed in this organization, I saw countless pieces about the struggles that African American’s, Latino American’s, ect, all went through.

One of my teammates (who was a white female) decided to do a piece about how we are still struggling to have civil rights be truly equal, especially in the education system. One of the pieces of literature she used was Martin Luther Kings “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” She spent days listening to how he spoke and watching how he held himself. Amazingly, she could do a flawless Martin Luther King impression for her performance. However, when she performed her piece, she had some judges say that she was “too white” to give voice to MLK.

I found this funny, because this implies that being African American would have given her the right to act like MLK and argue civil rights. So I wonder, how much of a voice do Caucasians really have when it comes to the race talking table? When I hear the word “race” I don’t think of white, I think of anything but white, and I know that I am not the only one.

When I watch pieces about segregation, or racism, I feel like I fight against it, I feel like if I saw someone do something against someone else because of their race, I would stand up and stop it, but do other people look at me and think I would?

We need to stop making racism a “colored issue.” (I hate saying colored) As cliché as it sounds, this is everyone’s issue.

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

2 Responses to "Being white makes race discussions difficult"
  1. barry irving says:

    ..who’s we?..perhaps you are not considering that America is a country founded on many things…chief among them outside of the White population is racism and classism. whites are authors of that Racism and classism. African Americans and people of color have an actual duty to address it all, because it affects their lives most pointedly.

    …White people want Racism to be an equally measured discussion. The reality is that Racism is a cause of strife. Institutional Racism ( indoctrination ) outside of

    individual Racist acts affects everyone. It makes Whites think and act as if they are the main focus of society at all times. It makes people of color more active against it and any implication of it.

    …To react to Racism, is not Racism itself. That is one thing that White people do not seem to understand. Protest and accusation is a result of the overall varied aspects of Racism in society. It may be a thorn, but it is also caused by societal insensitivity and intolerance…day after day…incident after incident…denial after denial….injustice after injustice.

    …White population advantage makes it difficult for people of color to get equality or justice from a system that uses statistics as a weapon. Those stats do not mirror a true reality. They are compiled nationally under differing circumstances, by people who have a variety of lifestyles and beliefs, yet they are presented as every day reality where ever they are quoted…and without context…all criticism in a vacuum.

    …so your point about Racism being difficult is understood by me. My advice is that if you look at history honestly and measure that history contextually against people of color, you should understand that The justice system and public opinion by the majority, are reluctant or refusing to apply that context because it will inevitably point the finger right back at them. America was founded as a Free White Society…Lincoln was not in favor of Equality for African Americans…There were 18 early presidents who were slavers at one time or another. 12 While in office…George Washington ( having 800 ) was among them.

    …Just those facts should send a message that Racism was not only Law, it was practice and belief among White America…it has never really been voluntarily addressed in a healing way by the majority up to today.

    …last point, white and Black are both Race terms. Black was adopted by African Americans during the 60’s Civil Rights struggle as a counter to White. It was also a way to reverse the negativity of Racist Stereotype and apply pride against color negativity. White is a remnant of White Supremacy…it is anti national, anti ethnic and based on color Superiority by association. The term white is used ambiguously, never indication whether it is referring to nationality, ethnicity or original Race. The term Caucasian is used for White, when actually there are African and Indian Black and Brown people who are Caucasian. The term comes from archaic anthropology and refers to face and body type…not color!

    …I could write 5 times more to expand each of the points that I made. That is the reality of racial discussion. To take the White perspective against these few arguments would require a philosophical approach. History is set in concrete and the subject of Race is always going to be assumed to against White people who are steeped in archaic Philosophy, Spirituality and belief in reference to people who are not White. See Salon – 1/9/15 ” 5 Reasons Why White Pride is Always Racist”…the title may put you off, but it is written by White people who recognize how the term White has been used Historically as a social / political refuge.

  2. barry irving says:

    …colored is so archaic…like really old. To say we need to stop making Race a color issue is leaving out a great deal of content. Race in America is almost synonymous with color. The terms are Regional Vernacular (Slang) Don’t leave it up to the reader to decide what you mean by Color or colored. You might not like what you hear!

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