A Guide to White Guilt

A Guide to White Guilt

What is it, what’s wrong with it, and how can I solve it?
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As others prepare for their next semester of college, I spent my last orientation week as an undergrad volunteering to facilitate peer discussions about race with the incoming freshman class. My university, thanks to a group of passionate brilliant students, began a diversity orientation even called One Community two years ago, and given the social climate currently in America, they decided to focus this year’s event on race.

Long story short, we have a panel of students share their narratives and experiences with the new freshmen, and then afterwards break the freshmen up into small groups paired with a facilitator in order to have a constructive small group discussion. This was my second time facilitating for this event, and what I found right away was the amount of guilt expressed by white students about their white privilege. Other facilitators later echoed similar experiences, discussing how some felt lost on how to even address the phenomenon. It was this experience which inspired me to write this article.

So what is white guilt? Washington Post writer Krissah Thompson references the case of Rachel Dolezal in her definition, saying that Dolezal is “an archetype of white guilt played to its end.” The root of white guilt is that, upon recognizing the racial inequalities in their community/ies, white people feel ashamed for being white.

This is in fact an important feeling, because it signifies a recognition of racism and racial privilege. I personally feel it constantly. Every time I see another news story of a Black person killed by police, I feel guilty for being white. Every time I experience Black people talk about the hardships they face every day because of their skin color, I feel guilty for being white. Every time I am reminded in any way, shape, or form about the continued existence of systemic racism, I feel guilty for being white.

Dear fellow white people: this is normal. This is okay.

So if it’s okay, what’s the problem? I’m glad you asked. The problem is when we let white guilt grow past that inner dialogue. White guilt is inherently problematic because it is the result of us (white people) thinking that we are somehow personally responsible for the racism we see and hear about. On some level we know that it isn’t our fault individually, but we cannot shake the feeling of being accused and so the result often becomes an attempt to silence discussions on race [insert All Lives Matter movement here].

The definition of privilege entails that those who have it cannot easily see it. So when white people first encounter discourse of race privilege not only do they feel they’re being accused of something, but also they feel said accusation is not even grounded in truth. In that context, hostility and defensiveness are understandable though not productive.

To discuss your white guilt in spaces dedicated to racial justice and healing for people of color is in fact hypocritical because you are exerting white privilege by taking up space to talk about your guilt for white privilege. To ask (or worse, expect) people of color to recognize anything concerning your white guilt is directly reinforcing white privilege.

While I understand your white guilt, I don’t feel sorry for you. And I don’t feel sorry for myself.

Getting past white guilt is deceptively simple, and it starts by recognizing that this guilt stems from a place of self-pity. We feel bad that we are benefiting from something under which others suffer, and that’s good. But it’s not enough. We need to do more than feel bad; we need to find ways to help change society so that these privileges do not exist.

White guilt is inherently unproductive because it implies that the guilt is all there is. No action is being taken. No method of alleviating this guilt is being researched. And when action is taken, usually it is not positive action.

By realizing and internalizing that white privilege is not any one person’s “fault,” and rather a system of our society that we need to change, white people can simultaneously alleviate the source of their guilt and the source of others’ oppression.

Cover Image Credit: www.vox.com

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I Am A Female And I Am So Over Feminists

I believe that I am a strong woman, but I also believe in a strong man.
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Beliefs are beliefs, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I'm all about girl power, but in today's world, it's getting shoved down our throats. Relax feminists, we're OK.

My inspiration actually came from a man (God forbid, a man has ideas these days). One afternoon my boyfriend was telling me about a discussion his class had regarding female sports and how TV stations air fewer female competitions than that of males. In a room where he and his other male classmate were completely outnumbered, he didn't have much say in the discussion.

Apparently, it was getting pretty heated in the room, and the women in the class were going on and on about how society is unfair to women in this aspect and that respect for the female population is shrinking relative to the male population.

If we're being frank here, it's a load of bull.

SEE ALSO: To The Women Who Hate Feminism

First of all, this is the 21st century. Women have never been more respected. Women have more rights in the United States than ever before. As far as sports go, TV stations are going to air the sports that get the most ratings. On a realistic level, how many women are turning on Sports Center in the middle of the day? Not enough for TV stations to make money. It's a business, not a boycott against female athletics.

Whatever happened to chivalry? Why is it so “old fashioned" to allow a man to do the dirty work or pay for meals? Feminists claim that this is a sign of disrespect, yet when a man offers to pick up the check or help fix a flat tire (aka being a gentleman), they become offended. It seems like a bit of a double standard to me. There is a distinct divide between both the mental and physical makeup of a male and female body. There is a reason for this. We are not equals. The male is made of more muscle mass, and the woman has a more efficient brain (I mean, I think that's pretty freaking awesome).

The male body is meant to endure more physical while the female is more delicate. So, quite frankly, at a certain point in life, there need to be restrictions on integrating the two. For example, during that same class discussion that I mentioned before, one of the young ladies in the room complained about how the NFL doesn't have female athletes. I mean, really? Can you imagine being tackled by a 220-pound linebacker? Of course not. Our bodies are different. It's not “inequality," it's just science.

And while I can understand the concern in regard to money and women making statistically less than men do, let's consider some historical facts. If we think about it, women branching out into the workforce is still relatively new in terms of history. Up until about the '80s or so, many women didn't work as much as they do now (no disrespect to the women that did work to provide for themselves and their families — you go ladies!). We are still climbing the charts in 2016.

Though there is still considered to be a glass ceiling for the working female, it's being shattered by the perseverance and strong mentality of women everywhere. So, let's stop blaming men and society for how we continue to “struggle" and praise the female gender for working hard to make a mark in today's workforce. We're doing a kick-ass job, let's stop the complaining.

I consider myself to be a very strong and independent female. But that doesn't mean that I feel the need to put down the opposite gender for every problem I endure. Not everything is a man's fault. Let's be realistic ladies, just as much as they are boneheads from time to time, we have the tendency to be a real pain in the tush.

It's a lot of give and take. We don't have to pretend we don't need our men every once in a while. It's OK to be vulnerable. Men and women are meant to complement one another—not to be equal or to over-power. The genders are meant to balance each other out. There's nothing wrong with it.

I am all for being a proud woman and having confidence in what I say and do. I believe in myself as a powerful female and human being. However, I don't believe that being a female entitles me to put down men and claim to be the “dominant" gender. There is no “dominant" gender. There's just men and women. Women and men. We coincide with each other, that's that. Time to embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: chrisjohnbeckett / Flickr

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Never Ask Your 'Black' Friend These 8 Questions

Don't do it, Karen, just don't. I know you weren't raised to be culturally sensitive but please just don't.

msmry
msmry
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Going to a PWI and finding yourself as the only black person in your friend group sometimes can offer you the title of "Honorary Know-It-All" regarding your race and culture. Now before you start yelling at your technological device, don't.

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I am not saying it is not OK to ask questions especially if you want to be more informed about who to interact with those of minority races. It is good to try and be more informed about a different culture but sometimes the way people try to achieve this can be insensitive.

"OMG Your hair looks so soft! May I touch it?"

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No! Just No! I don't care if it would make your year you can not touch my hair. And for Pete's sake do not do that thing were you ask but YOU ARE ALREADY TOUCHING MY HAIR. Seriously, what was the point of asking? Foreal those don't ask and don't touch unless maybe it's like your best friend. Most people of color work very hard to get there hair perfect and also we don't know where your hands have been. No touchy!

"Is that all your hair?"

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Just don't. Like, seriously just don't. And also don't assume you know the answer because there are a lot of black women now that have a lot of hair. Not to mention because our society pressures us to fit this ideal image that usually results in the damaging of our hair we often use fake hair to protect our own from the everlasting effects of colonization — sorry, I meant "relaxers." (Not really.)

"Where are you 'really' from?"

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OK, this goes for all minorities. Do not do the whole "well where are you "really" from?" because you not "really" from here either Karen. Especially for black people this is a question that is directly related back to colonization because half of us have no clue were our ancestors came from and the chances of us ever knowing is basically none because of the everlasting effect of you know whipping out an entire civilization for reasons I still say is bullshit.

Why is it OK for black people to say the "N" word?

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OK, let's get one thing straight even we can not come to condenses on this topic. However, it is NOT OK for anyone who is not black to say the "n" word. Why is this you ask? Let me give you a history lesson.

The "N" word is a racial slur often directed towards those of African descent. This term is deeply rooted in a very racially charged era of American history and sadly is still used today to have the same offensive derogatory effects typically when coming from those, not of African descent. Now there have been some efforts to rebrand and claim words that were used to degrade areas in society and the word "nigga" is one of those. Again, even we can't get on the same page with this but I would say us using the term is a way of reclaiming the past that was intended to break us down.

"Do you have a mom AND a dad?"

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"You sure that's your name?"

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Yes, I am sure! This is the bane of my existence. My name is MARY ELIZABETH MINNS. And yes, it is spelled just like the queen of England. No, it is not Marri, not Marre, not Merri, not Merre or any other convoluted way you can find to spell my name. No, not all black people have some unique name with some unique spelling.

"You DON'T like chicken and watermelon?"

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Yes, I am black and I am proud. But no I do not necessarily live on fried chicken and watermelon so if you invite me over don't ask if that's what I want. I would rather have pasta. Do not make assumptions off of any type of stereotype but especially this one.

"Can you swim?"/ "Really, you can swim?"

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Yes, I can swim and so can other black people. No, not all of us are good at track and basketball and yes, some of us can swim and enjoy it too. I mean for Pete's sake, our ancestors were brought over in boats and there is still a bunch of us in the Bahamas.

This is, of course, supposed to be a light-hearted way of addressing a serious issue. But, next time you are talking to your minority friends, just be aware and culturally sensitive. Think before you speak. I mean really think before you speak.

msmry
msmry

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