A Guide to White Guilt

A Guide to White Guilt

What is it, what’s wrong with it, and how can I solve it?

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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Throwing Shade At Makeup Companies For Their Inequality

Why should shades of makeup be limited to a particular race or gender?

I love makeup. It is something that I have fallen in love with over the years.

It gave me the boost of confidence I needed when I was feeling insecure, and it allowed me to be creative. Many other men and women have used makeup to find for the same reasons. People of different backgrounds, genders, race, and social classes.

But for some reason, we have only opened up the color range of foundation to the middle group of people.

Recently, Tarte released their Shape Tape Hydrating and Matte Foundation. They shared a picture that had 11 light shades, two medium shades, and two dark shades.

Excuse my language, but this is complete bullshit. The lack of darker shades is a slap in the face to so many people and so many other lovers of makeup.

Personally, I have never experienced this. I fall in the 11 light shades. Yeah, my shade has been sold out, but I could always order or get it somehow, but a brand has never made my shade entirely.

Even the shades names are exclusive to one race. In the hydration and matte foundation, they have three fair shades for each. Then for a light category, there are five light shades in the hydration foundation and 4 in the matte foundation.

If you are keeping count all together that is 15 shades for pale, white people. Different undertones and small differences between the shades, just for Caucasians.

Now getting into the medium skin tones that still include a lot of white people with tanner skin. Between both foundations, there are ten shades.

Right now, we are at a whopping 25 shades for white people or people that have medium skin tones.

Now for anyone darker than that there are five shades between both foundations for you to pick from and none that include different skin tones or shade names that guide you to select your shade.

Please, someone, inform me what shade Mahogany looks like because if someone gave me a name of a word to describe my shade name out of 30 different shades, I would be lost.

For a brand to be adamant about treating animals fairly and making sure their products are vegan — I would assume include all races in their product range.

For a brand which is making a way and encouraging men in makeup, I would assume again; they would include all races in their product range.

For a brand who sends YouTubers and Bloggers with deeper skin tones on brand trips to Bora Bora, I would assume they would include all races in their product range.

This has to change. Everyone deserves to have a shade that makes them feel beautiful. No matter backgrounds, genders, race, and social classes, everyone should have their shade.

Being a makeup lover, I would rather wait years for a full shade range to release than get a crap release for only white people to get to.

Tarte and several other brands have to step up their game because these shit releases are getting old.

Cover Image Credit: Maeve Armstrong

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A POC Response To 'Being A White Female In Today's Society Is Not All Fun And Games'

Freedom of speech does not excuse this article.

Note: I am not here to bully anyone, I’m actually here to educate. I’ve taken many classes regarding colorblind issues like this. Prior to this article, I did have a conversation with this author and it has pushed me to write a response in order for her to realize what she has said.

* * *

In response to: "Being A White Female In Today's Society Is Not All Fun And Games, Fact"

The minute I read the title of this article, I knew it was going to be very colorblind. What’s funny is that I do not get what you were trying to say, but it had nothing to do with you being white, and it was a “woe is me” article.

“Being a white girl living in the middle class makes these situations that occur in society much more difficult. We are held to a certain standard, life stories are assumed about us, stereotypes and stigmas are enforced without any valid reasoning.”

So, the stereotypes, stigmas, and life stories assumed about people of color are validated? Because those aren’t either, there are stereotypes for everyone.

In America, white is not considered a color, it’s normal. Being of a different color is considered a disability — unless it’s for sports, math or to clean.

You go on a tangent about people holding you to a stigma because you’re a white woman and your major is engineering. You’re also considered a “minority” because there are not many women in your career.

It also seems that being a minority is considered at a lower level than your male counterparts, this is what it feels like to be of a different color surrounded by those who are of the majority, lower-level.

“In most of my classes, there will be a mere four or five in a classroom of 30 or more people. Most people have said that I am at an advantage because I am a "minority" attempting to succeed in this career field. I do not feel that is true. I feel that, as a female, I need to prove myself more than my male peers, that I have to make a name for myself and show others that I can succeed, regardless of how much I may struggle.

No one is saying you do not work hard.

The reason there are fewer women than men in your class is that society pushes women towards dolls, easy-bake ovens, and toy kitchens. Whereas boys are given toolsets and cars, which can later develop into a career interest. Kudos to you for overcoming the manipulation of gender roles.

“Yes, I have a scholarship that allows me to have some comfort in paying my tuition. But, I have never received a scholarship for the color of my skin or my gender.”

Neither have I, neither have most of the people at school and if they have it’s because over 65% of FGCU’s student body is of Caucasian descent.

This comment can be considered as a macroaggression, looking down on others for getting a scholarship based on the color of their skin and assuming they haven’t worked for it.

You don’t seem to think that being a white woman is an advantage because of the struggles that all women go through. Being cat-called, inequality, and sexism.

My friends and I are affected by inequality every day because of the color of our skin. Some of us are not considered pretty because of the lack of western features. Some of us are sexualized by the media for looking the way we do.

Newsflash, white women are not the only women who get cat-called.

“I am here to explain how every culture and gender and background and community has their own ups and downs. One community should never be targeted for a specific situation or event. A small group of individuals should never define a whole community. I was called vulnerable for the way I portray myself through my writing, and I take an immense amount of pride in that. I am not afraid to share how I feel or how I view things.”

The white community is not targeted for specific events, no one is going around killing all the white people because another white boy shot up a school.

You are right, a small group of individuals should not be targeted for specific situation or event.

But you in-turn have targeted other individuals because it’s not all fun and games being white. You obviously know it’s not all fun and games being black, Hispanic, or Asian.

Did you hear about the black girl who was hung by two white boys on Facebook live?

Or the boy who was hung by his white classmates?

What you really seem to be angry about is that you were called vulnerable, make that the point of your argument- do not bring race into it. Because at the end of the day, you are not considered a race by societal standards. You do have greater life chances than any other women of color in your major.

You may think this article is being racist towards you, but reverse racism does not exist.

I feel as though you need to apologize to your viewers of color for the ignorant message you’ve sent out. I do not feel you meant harm by it, but you don’t understand that there are so many people today who are in the same boat as you and aren’t white.

I’m a middle-class individual, with scholarships, I work two jobs, my parents do not pay for my schooling or anything of the matter. I did not get a scholarship for the color of my skin.

You are not special or excluded because you are white.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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