Dear white people of america,
We are racist. All of us. Do not argue with me. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Our defensiveness is a major part of the problem. By virtue of being born white in america, we all profit off the privileges white skin affords (and they are many) - sometimes individually, sometimes collectively. We must acknowledge this uncomfortable truth. The quicker we can admit to this reality, the quicker we can do something about it. It’s like standing in the middle of a forest and insisting we are not surrounded by trees. The longer we deny our own racism, the longer we perpetuate inequality, pain, and violence; the longer we remain criminals.
If hearing that you are racist offends you, I don’t care. If hearing that you are racist offends you, you are probably one of the people that need to hear it most…because you are keeping us from moving forward. The first step to fixing a problem is admitting the problem exists. No one can eradicate racism until white people collectively acknowledge our own despicable history, denounce it, vow to decolonize our minds, promise to do better.
We have been raised in a society and country whose default position was and continues to be racist. The United States were founded through enslaving Africans and other people of color. We fought a war for the right to keep enslaving those same people. Think about that for a minute: some of us fought a war - only 150 years ago - in order to protect our right to own another person. Sounds pretty fucked up, right? And don’t tell me the Civil War was about states’ rights either. Please. The Civil War was fought because some states were unwilling to give up their right to continue buying and selling black people. This is our history.
The Constitution that “created” america called a black man only 3/5 of a person (while completely erasing black women). You can’t easily cross that out with a pen and pretend like it never happened. Amendments are not erasers. The longer these terrible facts go unexamined, the longer the stain sets. And at what point, are we no longer to remove a stain? We pride ourselves on not being “those people back then” that owned slaves, but things haven’t gotten better - they’ve only become different.
We are all racist. Still. We are conditioned from birth to not see the racist underpinnings of our entire political system. We are taught that we all have equal opportunities to pull ourselves up by the boot straps. We are taught insidious lies. We have to dig deeper. We have to dig hard. Our denial is a drug and we are addicted. To break the cycle we have to admit the problem. And there is a very very big problem. We need rehab.
So I admit that I am racist. I can’t not be. This admission doesn’t feel good - it shouldn’t feel good. Feeling good is a privilege in and of itself. I am not a bad person though, because rather than remain part of the problem, I want to be part of a solution. I want to counter the racism that was woven into my white man DNA. I want to beat it into submission. It won’t go away but it might end up occupying less space. I will do everything in my goddamn power to make sure that is so. I will call out racism in others every single time I see it. I will fight against my conditioning and not accept the default position I was taught to celebrate. I will offer discomfort to other white people. I will ask them to sit in that discomfort and think about their own complicities. I will acknowledge my privileges and use them to subvert systems of domination when I can. I will sneak into spaces to which others might not have access and share this message. I will do these necessary things even when I am scared because they need to be done. I will be honest and kind but also relentless and critical. I will speak, but I will also listen.
I will do all these things. Will you?
A white person trying to do his best