German translation here
I’m not going to write in the way that the other essays here are usually written: that is to say, polite preachings that are read by the already converted. Not that I’m ungrateful for having the opportunity to be read by polite, already-converted comrades, not at all. Really, if it was only them and me, I would still count myself immeasurably wealthy.
I realize that this essay will be up on the internet. And the internet being what it is, I can only assume that there are casual readers and readers who teeter on the brink of awakening, as well as readers who are in secret accord with the North American New Right but are afraid to admit it to themselves because they have been told over and over and over that this is a bad site. A very evil site. A site of haters and racists, and unless they are a hater or racist they must not be here. Still they want to be here, if only in small fractions of time so that no one can look over their shoulders. But, a lot of the essays here are full of a jargon it takes time to learn, of comments that are obscure without a background, and of references that are a little too erudite to be digested in the quick snatches that these covert readers allow themselves.
So I am not going to write that way. I’m going to write for that just emerging-from-sleep person out there who is a nice person, a kind person, a responsible person who doesn’t feel that comfortable here but . . . doesn’t feel comfortable there either anymore. Maybe I can get through. I’m nice, kind, responsible, and I welcome you, you who are so fed up with what is going on and not being able to talk about it. I’ll talk about it first. Then you can think about it. Then you can decide.
So, are you tired of being intolerable yet? Did it sting when you got called a racist for daring to not like Obama? How does it feel to you to be accused of white privilege . . . a charge so noxious that if you protest it, it is claimed that protesting it is one of the symptoms of it? Surely you remember how the history text books you grew up on vilified the Pilgrims as moronic fanatics for their practice of witch dunking? When dunked underwater, they claimed, a witch would not drown, only the innocent would . . . Do you remember thinking what a rigged system that was? Are any alarm bells ringing now?
They are ringing, of course, even if you won’t admit it to yourself. After all, you aren’t stupid, you’re just shocked. It was never supposed to be like this, or get like this. The world was supposed to be better by now, for all of us, and the word ‘all’ was supposed to include you and the people who look like you. But it’s not better for you, or your white co-workers, white friends, white neighbors, white countrymen, it’s worse.
Don’t knee jerk, I don’t want to lose you, you listen to everyone else tell you what is what, racially speaking, so won’t you be colorblind just a little longer and listen to me? I’m white, so I’m in the distinct minority of people you ordinarily hear from about matters like this. I mean, after all, you are used to hearing about how you think about every other race out there, and how you’re supposed to think about them. I think you are also used to being told how to think about your race but I think you are only used to being told things that make you feel bad. Do you really like that? And, more importantly, when it’s just you, yourself, and your thoughts, do you really really buy it? Do you honestly think your grandparents were evil? Do you think their grandparents were?
How about your kids? Do you think they are inherently wrong because they have white ancestors? White skins? Are you ashamed of them . . . for them . . . or do you secretly worry about them? How about your grandchildren? They are going to get here sooner or later. I assume you would like them to look like you, deep down. No matter how many Obama-clone TV commercial families and GAP kids ads you are forced to look at, no matter how many magazine pages are devoted to photographs of couples dating who don’t share racial heritages, you have got to have a sense that that is going a bit far now and that you’d prefer to be a grandparent to babies who look like you. Why do you think you are awful to think that way? Why is one grandbaby color wrong and all the rest okay? Why is your grandbaby color the wrong one? The vile one? The one that has to be replaced with a darker one? And they are all darker ones than yours, don’t kid yourself. Your skin is the minority one in the big picture. And soon you will have no smaller picture to belong to, you will not have a place where it is okay to be like you are. You will be the minority everywhere on earth.
Doesn’t that frighten you a little?
I mean, face it, the minorities have not held back with their tales of how absolutely awful it is to be a minority race. They thrive on the horror it brings to you, those poor colored slaves, those noble savages, those bronze-skinned Mesoamericans, those misused coolies . . . all tormented by your people by the way, even if it was their people’s practices that led them to being sold, to being captured, to being immigrants in a land they did not share culture or language of . . . it’s all your fault and you had better watch out because the tide is turning and you white people will be the minority people and then you’ll get yours. Except, of course, it’s not ‘yours,’ it’s theirs. Their revenge. Their delightful acceptance of the advantage you give them by not resisting any of this.
Even when you know it is not right.
Humans are a cantankerous species, warring and fighting and invading and colonizing are endemic to it. Not just to your particular branch of humanity, but to humanity. I mean, you’ve asked yourself, right, since we are all equally human, why doesn’t that figure in the fray when there’s negative qualities to share around? I mean, do you really think that the people who created sculpture and ballet and violin music and lace making and book binding and opera arias are all just lucky lazy pieces of hateful crap that the earth is better off without? Do you really really think that?
Do you really like it when other people think that?
Do you think it’s right that your son has to have perfect SAT scores, an Eagle from an organization riddled with corruption and pedophilia, and hundreds of hours of extracurricular activities because you know he’ll never get into a college on his grades alone because he’s not black or latino? You know it’s not right, so why would you let this happen to him? Why can’t he get a decent scholarship or federal aid based on his race? Why does he have to carry a loan so high he’ll never get out from under it because his job prospects are not as great as they could be due to his whiteness being a handicap in the job market? When did this become a fact? Why do you just accept it as the way things are? You know it’s not right, you know it’s not fair and you know that it makes you mad if you think about it. So you don’t think about it, do you?
Think about it.
I’m not different than you. I have a kid, a house, a dog. I’ve done the PTA meetings, the firecrackers in July, the turkey on Thanksgiving. I’m not special, I’m not protected by bodyguards, and I’m not rich. I know that what this essay is saying is going to be labeled “hateful.” Because that is what they use to scare you into submission. To make you click away from here. To make you hide in your living room, feeling things but not daring to admit to the fact that they are there in your consciousness because you don’t want to be a hater. Your first impulse is to think I am a hater. Deep down you know I’m making sense, but you still think I am a hater. It’s programmed into your surface thought patterns to wince every time I say ‘white’ like ‘white’ is a good thing. I know this. It makes me heavy hearted. I’m not hateful. You are not hateful either. The use of words like ‘hate’ and ‘race’ to silence all discussions of hate and race that do not conform to established mass thinking is something you are going to have to deal with for yourself.
I can’t change you. I can offer you the knowledge that when you change you won’t be alone, and that you will not be a bad or evil or hateful person. I can also say that the more of you who change, who are not afraid anymore, the easier and easier it will be for every one of us. Success brings success, strength brings more strength. But, I cannot change you or the world around you. Change yourself. You don’t have to change the world overnight, or challenge everyone you meet. The world will change, everyone you meet will change, if you begin to change how you let yourself exist in this world.
Realize that it is not wrong, or bad, or even mean to be angry about the way you and your children are being treated, about the way things are going for you, about the future that is galloping down around you. It would be insane for you to just accept it, take it, like it. Remember that. Please. Every time you pop an anti-depressant, ask yourself to admit what you are depressed about. You will probably find that you don’t need the mental sedation, you need self-honesty. Every time you hear that white people can’t be victims of hate crimes, that white privilege exists, that white flight causes inner city blight, that white people have no rhythm, that white people are oppressors, that white people are racist, that blondes are dumb, that blue-eyed devils exist, and that white people have no ethnicity like the African-Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans or Native-Americans do, think about this.
And, just for the record, yes. If you’ve read this far, and you don’t really think it is bad to be sick of being held negatively accountable for being a white person, yes, you have the right to be honest with yourself about the things you think, feel and know. The rest of the world sure as heck isn’t being honest with you, who else do you have but you? Oh, and us. You have us. We don’t hate you. We don’t want your race to be exterminated. We don’t think you are evil. We don’t think you are wrong. You are not wrong. Look around. Think. Dig deep. You are very, very right.
The decision to be comfortable with that is, as it always was, all yours.
Lessons from Robin DiAngelo on What It Means to Be White, Part 2
Lessons from Robin DiAngelo on What It Means to Be White, Part 1
The Canadian “Mass Graves” Hoax
Black Like Me
Day at the Museum: A Special Guided Tour
Wendy Anderson’s Rebirthing a Nation
Michael Brendan Dougherty’s My Father Left Me Ireland
Paint Your Wagon, Paint It PC