Pale faced; I must be guilty

Katherine
Atlanta, GA

I am not responsible for the actions of people one hundred and fifty years ago who enslaved an entire race. The institution of slavery is a horrific part of American History, and it was a heinous crime against African Americans. Because of that institution, there is racism alive and around still and it makes me absolutely furious. But it is not my fault. When broad statements like “white people are all racists” are made, I get a bit frustrated because it’s just not true. I do not contribute to the problem [of racism] and believe that I am a good enough person to stand up if I were to witness a hate crime against any race in front of me. Just because I am white does not mean that I am prejudiced or racist. I want to help in any way I am able; I want to change people’s minds about their prejudices towards people who are different from them.

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3 Responses to "Pale faced; I must be guilty"
  1. ElenaWill says:

    I have felt that way too at times in my life, but as I have grown older, I realize what makes me feel shameful is actually the result of a type of bullying . Free yourself from this.

  2. JD says:

    You and I didn’t commit the crimes of our ancestors. That’s a given.

    While I’ve heard people tell me that some [presumably] non-white races say that all whites are racist, I’ve only been told that by whites. So I’m suspicious of the origin of this saying. I tend to suspect it’s a divisive bit of tripe tossed out by the various white supremacist groups that pollute our intellectual and moral landscape.

    And to limit oneself to just speaking up against a hate crime is sort of like waiting for a [would be potential] murderer to have stabbed you before calling 911. It’s a bit too little and a bit too late.

    People need to speak up when racism rears its head in the not so direct ways. These manners vary by region in the US I’m sure you’ve seen plenty to name your own examples. The two best pieces of help you can give is to #1. Not engage in the subtle racist practices ingrained in our society. #2. Speak out against it when you see it going on.

    The earlier on in life that people are corrected for misbehavior,the less likely it is the behavior will escalated to a criminal level.

    So…don’t wait until misbehavior rises to a criminal level if you wish to minimize the amount of crime.

  3. kavihasya says:

    I am white. I don’t feel that the creation of institutional racism is my fault, but I do see lots of privileges that I have that are not shared by people of color. And I can see times that I have been oblivious to the way my exercise of that power reduces space for others. That is racism. Acknowledging my racism is a form of humility. In a racist society, everyone is racist. Including me, you, people of color, and everyone else. The question isn’t whether or not we are “racist,” it’s whether and how we choose to engage with the reality that we live in a racist society.

    When you ask to be seen as “not racist” at the beginning of the conversation, you are both misunderstanding the problem, and reducing the likelihood that you will be open to hearing about the unintentional ways that you perpetuate racism in your life. Of course you are racist. Get over it. I will never be able to completely eliminate subconscious bias, I am completely unable to disentangle my white privilege from the consequences of luck and hard work. My guess is that we are similar in that respect. More interestingly, how are you racist? What have you done to be less racist over time?

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