The following is based upon and a response to Kartina Richardson’s Salon article “How can white Americans be free?”
Many of my posts address what it means to be a person of color (POC), specifically a black person, in America, a land dominated by whites for a few centuries. Over the years, a few of my posts have been declared racist by a handful of racist trolls. I’ve learned quickly that to put white people and their racism on the spot will invite anger from whites and POC who think ‘white’. Most responses are filled with any and all things wrong with black people. Some will include the inevitable statistics ploy as white people need raw numbers to tell them how bad the black race is.
Since I’ve been a blogger, I’ve learned a few things about America and about white people. Among them were the following:
-White people hate it when you call them out on their racism.
-America is a heavily racist nation.
-Whites are addicted to “feeling good” especially when they put nonwhites down.
I also learned that as screwed up as many POC are because of whiteness, white people are screwed up themselves due to whiteness. How so?
Well, we need to understand that whiteness has become the default, a standard by which it is the objective that is set against everything outside its views and definitions. The white man’s view of the world is considered the default. The white man’s definitions on the world and how it works are the default. Anything and everything else has been reduced as insignificant. Lesser than. Inferior. Wrong. And that’s the way it goes.
Simultaneously, this default setting of whiteness also prevents white people of learning and accepting anything outside of their “worlds”. Instead, they tend to assert their whiteness onto others, permission granted or not. They feel the need to tell POC how they are “wrong” and why even if facts are staring them dead in the face. They end up insulting the POC and will put up a shield to deflect their venting back unto them to keep from looking ignorant and rotten. White people will get upset, but will get over it quickly without taking anything worthwhile from that experience while the POC are frustrated and stressed because the white people refuse to “get it”.
At the same time,whites will side with whiteness, right or wrong, beneficial or harmful. Even if it will screw them in the end, they will still side with whiteness over anything else, even if it could help them.
The mindset of whiteness keeps white people feeling like shining examples of moral values despite their psychopathic and sociopahtic behaviors. They can not – will not recognize their own moral flaws, past and present. They will continue sinning without any regard for others because whiteness tells them they are “basically good”. Conversely, whiteness will identify non-whiteness as the opposite, anything that must be controlled or “civilized” or put down immediately. Whites with this mindset will not see it as anything other than a positive motive no matter how much it destroys others. In fact even challenging whiteness is seen as a sin worse than murder itself.
Whiteness defines that is “normal” in today’s world. Whiteness is normal while anything else is abnormal, including discussing race. Race is considered a problem only POC deal with and must fix. Whiteness keeps the notion that it – in fact – is the center of racism, the reason why POC deal with so much on a daily basis. It removes any truth and responsibility for (most) white people to actively and effectively examine, cease and prevent personal and systematic racism, not to mention reveal that fact white people benefit the most from racism.
As such, white liberals believe they are progressive non-racist, but they tend to fall into the trap by reinforcing it. White conservatives, on the other hand, embrace whiteness -including its racism – as their identity.
Whiteness is filtered into the minds of POC every day to the point where they reject their identity. And the same thing happens to white people in America. Most whites in America have rejected their origins in order to be simply white. Richardson describes her experiences:
White people frequently ask me what my ethnicity is. I like to ask them back and they preface their answer with a sheepish expression, “Oh, I’m just regular white” they say, or “Oh, just plain boring white.” They don’t believe they have an ethnicity because The Default has erased European ethnicity to absorb people of European descent (and a few lucky Middle Easterners) into Whiteness.
The default of whiteness can make it complicated for white people to embrace their ethnicity let alone make them realize that they are ethnic themselves. Most liberal white people believe they are “regular”. They do not admit or realize they have privileges over other groups due to their white skin. To acknowledge their whiteness is – to them – racist. Yet, everything else is categorized based on color and ethncity (African or black American, Native American, Asian American and so on). White Americans are not called ‘white Americans’. Instead, they are simply called ‘Americans’.
Whites with racial pride, who mostly side with conservative values, often juxtapose it with their hatred for nonwhites, non-Christians and non-heterosexuals. White pride is usually associated with Southern or Nazi pride, both have bloody and violent histories. Yet, this overt racism is embraced by a segment population of white people who believe they are dying off the face of the Earth. They can not cope with the fact that the world is diverse, and they have a hard time knowing that those of white European descent are the true minority.
But whiteness keeps them from opening up to possibilities. They prefer to stay in their own collective and hate the rest of the world. A white world to them is like a dream come true.
The article in which this post is based upon asks, “How can white Americans be free?” Can they be free? Do they want to be free? Do they even know that they are lost?
POC have told white people what’s wrong countless times. Each time we are told how incorrect we are. Thus, racism and white supremacy continues to this very day. Some people would conclude that white people are unaware of the damage whiteness has caused. Some would argue that they do know, but don’t care. After all, telling a group of people something so obvious, you would think they would know by now. That is not the case. So, you have to conclude that they could care less.
Yet, I suspect that they are blind to what whiteness is doing to themselves. It keeps them in a constant struggle for peace and relevancy. It prevents them from advancing their humanity. Maybe one day, they will realize their self-implosion happening around them, but right now, they seem fine with it. And that is part of the problem.