In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

White Americans have much to learn about racism


Whenever I write about Donald Trump’s rampant racism and bigotry, some of his cult attack me for saying that they, too, are racist.

Polls show a lot of Trumpies are racists, bigots, white supremacists and other despicable things but there are some, I guess, who might not fall into that category.

Studies, however, show that those who scream they are not racist are often unaware they are.

Robin DiAngelo, self-described as “a classic white progressive,” admits such failings in White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism:

I was a classic white progressive, which meant I was clueless about racism, which meant I could not answer the question, “What does it mean to be white?” I thought I was not racist and I really didn’t have anything more to learn.

Her book dissects why whites, particularly liberal ones, are either unwilling or unable to acknowledge their own racism.

In an interview with Isaac Chotiner of Slate, DiAngelo outlined:

One, working side by side with people of color who were challenging the way that I saw the world and my place in it. Part of being white is that I could be that far in life, be a full professional, educated adult, and never have had my racial role be challenged in general, or by people of color in particular.

The other part was going into the workplace and trying to talk to overwhelmingly white employees about racism. The hostility was incredible. After just years of that, I got better and better at not only understanding how white people pull this off—how we claim racial innocence in a society that is so separate and unequal by race—but also at articulating [that privilege] in a way that white people could hear.

We’re taught to think of racism as individual acts of intentional meanness across race. That it’s always an individual, it has to be conscious, and it must be intentional. That definition exempts virtually all white people from the system that we’re all in and that we’ve all been shaped by. It is the bedrock of our country. That changes the question from “If I’m racist,” [to] which most white people would answer “No,” to “How is this manifesting in my life?” Because it is. It’s on me to figure out how.

It’s also on each of us to figure out how we may still be thinking in racial terms while claiming we are not racist.

America is a racist nation, one founded on the concept of slavery and harboring fear and resentments of minorities that has erupted into full-blown bigotry in recent years.  Without the white supremacists and racists, Donald Trump would not be president.

Racism brought the tea party into our midst and racists continue to dominate and control the Republican party and its extreme conservatives.

An African-American lady I had the privilege of knowing and loving during my single days in the 1970s often told me that there was not way that I, as a white man who lives and works in white-dominated nation, could understand true racism and the problems that she and others face.

She’s right.  I can try but true understanding takes more than a lifetime of watching and learning.

But we must learn and we must do it quickly because America’s time is running out if we don’t.


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