An Open Letter to White People…

A really awesome essay I just read. Here are my callouts:

Here’s what angers me the most, though: It’s that you can’t see, or refuse to see, that this distinction between intent and impact is the very same distinction to which you appeal when you blame Trayvon for his own murder or when you blame rape victims for their own rapes. You are saying, in effect, Trayvon may not have meant to get shot, but he should have known that wearing his hoodie up like that would make him look threatening to the world. He should have known better. How is that not the same distinction? Why do you get to use this distinction against Trayvon, an innocent child, without anyone getting to use it against you when you try to explain away the actions of the man who killed him? Why? Why does Trayvon or any other person of color have to carry cognitive and volitional burdens you don’t? Why are your comfort and ease and your precious feelings and your ability to mouth off whenever you want about whatever you want so damned important? Why do black kids have to learn to pay for your peace of mind and self-esteem by having to worry about whether what they are wearing might contribute to them getting hunted down in the street? Why is this a privilege you get and he doesn’t? Why can’t you see that this is as blatantly unfair as saying that some spaces are whites only? Why?

In case you’re wondering folks, that is what white privilege is.

Some of you may be thinking, “Brian, you’re not just saying that everyone has to be mindful of what they say and think. You’re saying that as a white person I have to be on my guard in a way people of color don’t. You’re saying I have a heavier burden to carry in this respect than they do.” Actually I doubt many of you would put it so carefully. Usually you– not all of you, not going to name names, you will know who you are–simply cry, “reverse racism!”, then fold your arms and think you’ve made your point. Except you’re simply wrong about this. Notice I didn’t say that we have a difference of opinion about this. You are just wrong. A young black man walking down the street wearing a hoodie is just not inherently threatening, unless, of course, you insist on seeing it that way, and that says more about you than it does the man. Saying and thinking “young black men wearing hooded sweatshirts look threatening,” though, perpetuates the notion that young black men just are threatening. The social facts are simply different on either side in a way that tracks a differential distribution of power. Also, let’s not forget the fact that if we are keeping score on who bears the heavier burdens overall under systemic racism, white folks can bear this burden and still come out way ahead.

Goes for most of my readers too!

We white folks do have a big burden to carry in this one respect, it’s true. We have to be very careful and mindful in discussions of race. But this is not the fault of people of color. At all. What is at fault is the fact that the situations in which we find ourselves are constructed in racist ways that give us privileges we haven’t earned. What white folks should be upset about is the racist legacy left to us by our own forbears. We find ourselves in situations where ignorance is bliss and knowledge is sometimes painful. We have to do hard work, because we can get by just fine by looking the other way; we have to sacrifice time and comfort. After doing so, we might still feel awkward. This work isn’t easy.

via To My Fellow White People: An Open Letter « Thought Required; Pants Optional..

Well said!

13 thoughts on “An Open Letter to White People…

  1. Reblogged this on luvsiesous and commented:
    Wow!
    Friends, this is a racially charged rant. In this the author, I think he is ‘white,’ blames racism on ‘white folk.’ And he says ‘white folk’ have to accept reverse racism in order to fix it.
    What do my friends think?
    Is racism of any color acceptable?
    Does racism and prejudice fix any problem? Or does it continue the problem?
    Wayne

    • No.

      What you are saying is that you do not want to see the truth for what it is.

      Racism gives you an unfair advantage. You can yell “racism” in a crowded theater and get a terrible reaction. But, you honestly believe that you are not responsible for the damage your words cause.

      But, if you yelled “Fire!” You know you would go to jail.

      Inciting anger is inciting anger.

      Personally, I believe most racism today is merely for the purpose of gaining advantage against others.

      It is a ploy of those who claim to be have nots trying to take from those who have.

      Because I am white, I paid for my college. Because Obama is black, he paid for little of his college. But, his grand-parents were rich white people. My parents were just middle class.

      Racism give you a platform. Without that platform, you would have nothing to say.

      Wayne

      • Funny because I think it’s you that doesn’t want to see the truth for what it is.

        If you yell fire in a theater when there actually is a fire, you won’t go to jail and anger and panic are justified. That is what I’m doing with this blog on a whole: Yelling fire because people (much like you) believe there is no fire any more (or ever was). I’m truly sorry you can’t see the fire for the smoke and believe such racist assumptions with your asinine statements above.

        “racism today is merely for the purpose of gaining advantage against others” Really? You honest believe it’s just a way to play the system by non-whites? And the Obama college thing? Where is that coming from? I’m white and I got 75% of my college education paid for by tax payers through grants.

        I honestly don’t understand why you’re so insecure to accept that racism exists, racial inequality exists, being white has enormous privileges (like pretending that racism doesn’t exists and that you’ve never benefitted from it). Racism is alive and well and you are proving it far better than most of the content on this blog. I don’t expect to change your mind over night and it took me YEARS to get over some of the same insecurities you have, but I did and I started this blog for myself, for a “platform” and most of all to try to show people like you the way. It’s a drop in the bucket but it’s something…

  2. This is so absurdly racist. The stench reeks of anti-white, leftist beliefs in making the world a better place at the expense of every non-participating person in the country. It’s deplorable. This whole “white people have privilege” bullshit is just blatant propaganda.

    No matter how many privileges are given to us “minorities” in the United States at the expense of everyone else, it will never be enough. You’re basically saying that white people should move to the back of the line… simply because they’re white. The fact that you can’t see this irony shows your intelligence (or lack their of).

    Little tip for you, OP:

    You can not fight ignorance with more ignorance. It will never work. Furthermore, you will never obtain this utopian dream of equality because people don’t work that way. All you can do is understand and either love or hate. There will never be a racial equilibrium and anytime people, such as yourself, try to force that through, you end up making even more people unhappy. You need to learn a little humility and reason. Live and let live. What you’re doing here is justifying hate and oppression because of the past.

    If that’s the case, any Brit who lives in the United States should have to bear a little guilt and inconvenience because of all the oppression they handed down from their forbears. Any Catholic in the U.S. should do the same. And every single American, should have to let native Americans come in his house and fuck his sister.

    Now we’re even! Right? Of course not. Again, it’s never enough.

    • Once again, I did not write this post but I agree with it 100% so I guess you’re attacking words towards me still “work”. But any way, you are racist and as most racists, you’re missing the point.

      You say white people’s privilege is propaganda. How so? Who’s propaganda? How does it benefit anyone to point it out? Can you prove there isn’t any white privilege? Can you prove that you have not benefitted from it in any way?

      You’re “tip” actually has some good points, until you somehow accuse me of justifying hate, I’m not sure how I did that or even the author of the post I linked to. You say live and let live and love and all that, but you obviously take the side of hate and resentment as you think minorities are getting all these benefits at the expense of whites.

    • It is sad to see people still believing that racism is something of a time come and past. That is one of the greatest fallacies in your argument. I grew up in white suburbia and for a large part of my upbringing believed that we lived in a post racial America because that is what is being taught in elementary, middle and high schools. This is the institutionalized racism that I believe the essay is outlining. There should be more conversations about how we can critique an almost inherent mind set of African Americans, possessed by young white youth. A mind set that is obviously being perpetuated through not just government officials but also police forces and teachers.
      Without these types of conversations and these essays that you are writing off so quickly, we will continue to live in a society that cannot achieve racial equality. Just because something seems far reaching or unattainable does not mean that we, as a country, should give up.
      Look at the pragmatics of what you’re saying…

      • I’m confused, isn’t this essay doing exactly what you suggest? It’s starting the conversation with white people. Whites have institutionalized biases and prejudices and this essay is exposing them so we (as Whites) can recognize them and learn to overcome them. The first step is admitting that we have those biases.

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