I’m ashamed to be white.

Jason Zeller,
San Diego, CA

Even though my ancestors came to the United States after slavery was abolished and I am not aware of their involvement in any racist activities, as a white person in America I am ashamed of the vile history of racist violence and genocidal activities that white people in the U.S. have engaged in over the years. I’m not sanguine about our ability as a society to overcome this toxic legacy. It seems to me that too much emphasis has been placed on race in the U.S. I don’t know how we can alter that pattern. I don’t see many examples anywhere in the world of properly functioning multi-racial societies. This may be attributable to the reality that humans evolved in tribes, and there is a certain comfort in having a sense of tribal affiliation. My own background involves five-or-six European nationalities, none of which I identify with. Moreover, I find most aspects of traditional “white” culture in the U.S. to be difficult to stomach. The U.S. was founded via a colonial mentality that condoned chattel slavery, Indian removal and massacres and conquest. Internationally we have repeatedly intervened in various Western Hemisphere countries not to mention in Asia, and more recently Africa. It’s a sorry history, not something to celebrate. I had no illusions that Obama’s election would lead to a post-racial America. Instead it brought on the Trump Administration, a racist cabal that led us backwards in racial terms. The notion that teaching Americans about our history of racist acts will somehow lead to a better society is dangerously naive. In many ways I believe that the American South is unyielding anchor impeding our ability to make any meaningful change in racial relations, although racism pervades all of the U.S. I’ve also been discouraged by racist attitudes between various U.S. minorities, e.g., Latinos disparaging blacks and vise-versa, blacks disparaging Asians, the widespread prejudice against Middle-Easterners and rising Anti-Semitism. How does one make progress in light of these negative trends? Perhaps millennials will do a better job than Baby-Boomers have in reducing racism but I’m from Missouri on that score. Best wishes on your project.

 

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