It is often said that white people cannot understand the racism black people have to endure. The experience of racist discrimination is the unique possession of those who undergo it. In our world today, it is the experience of the non-white marginalized. White people can try to understand what it is to be discriminated against at such a systemic level, but, since it is not their experience, they can only look at it from the outside.
As a white person who is against racism, I experience this discrepancy between my desire to be an ally to black people while being an outsider to their struggle. While it is good to empathize deeply with the other, trying to see the world from the other’s perspective, there is always a certain lack.
Enter Your Whiteness
Yet there is a very effective way for whites to understand racism in all its violent ugliness. And it is a good deal more confrontational than the attempt to see the world through the eyes of the oppressed. As much as black people are privy to their own black experience including systematic racism, oppression, marginalization, white-on-black violence, white people have their own experience too.
White people can enter their whiteness. As whites, they have their own private experience that no one else can understand. They can fully embody their whiteness with its attendant privilege, assumed superiority, and justification of violence.
Of course, most white people do this daily. Hence systemic racism on all levels of society. But what I advocate is that white people enter their whiteness consciously, knowing it is whiteness, acknowledging their sense of superiority. Entering whiteness, while being conscious of it being whiteness, embodying the status of the oppressor, knowing it is a position of oppression, gives white people the true and unique experience of what it is to be white.
And then wait and see what happens.
Speaking Out Of Whiteness
Entering into whiteness reveals the fact that in this world today to be white is to be racist! Not because of some intrinsic malfunction in the white race–because race does not exist on a genetic level–but because to grow up white is to be…