A Guide to White Guilt

A Guide to White Guilt

What is it, what’s wrong with it, and how can I solve it?
372
views

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

Popular Right Now

The 17 Best Unpopular Opinions From The Minds Of Millennials

Yes, dogs should be allowed in more places and kids in less.
31187
views

There are those opinions that are almost fact because everyone agrees with them. Waking up early is horrible. Music is life. Sleep is wonderful. These are all facts of life.

But then there are those opinions that hardly anyone agrees with. These ones -- from Twitter, Pinterest and Reddit -- are those types of opinions that are better left unsaid. Some of these are funny. Some are thought-provoking. All of them are the 17 best unpopular opinions around.

1. My favorite pizza is Hawaiian pizza.

2. Binge watching television is not fun and actually difficult to do.

3. I love puns... Dad jokes FTW.

4. Milk in the cup first... THEN the bloody tea.

5. I wish dogs were allowed more places and kids were allowed fewer places.

6. "Space Jam" was a sh*t movie.

7. Saying "money cannot buy happiness" is just wrong.

8. People keep saying light is the most important thing in photographing. I honestly think the camera is more important.

9. Bacon is extremely overrated.

10. Literally, anything is better than going to the gym.

11. Alternative pets are for weird people.

12. Google doodles are annoying.

13. It is okay to not have an opinion on something.

14. It's weird when grown adults are obsessed with Disney.

15. This is how to eat a Kit Kat bar.

16. Mind your own business.

17. There is such a thing as an ugly baby.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

CBS, Please Stop The Racism and Lack of Black Representation On 'Big Brother'

Black houseguests need love too.

85
views

CBS,

It's been nearly four weeks since CBS's summer-long game series "Big Brother" aired. On the 20th season, two people have already been evicted, one of whom is black. From what I've witnessed on the live feeds, there's racial slurs and ignorance galore.

I think that your network is known for casting less than two black people on every season of "Big Brother." If that's your way of creating diversity, then your network has some work to do. Every season is predictable.

If you think about it, most of the black houseguests don't make it far in the game, and it's been obvious. I've never seen a black winner of "Big Brother US," ever, and I'm honestly disappointed in the lack of black representation on the show. I'm also very livid with the evident racism along with it.

I've been a faithful superfan. But, as a black viewer, I find it hard to finish a season knowing there's a predictable chance that a certain houseguest is robbed based on race.

On the 15th season of "Big Brother," for instance, two houseguests were in the center of extreme controversy for making very blunt, racist remarks towards the women of color on the show.

In future seasons, Paul Abrahamian, a competitor for season 18 and 19, wore a black facial mask to resemble the "blackface," a way to mock a black houseguest. While TMZ and other gossip websites covered it, he was never reprimanded for what was considered ignorant, prejudiced behavior.

I'm not saying that "Big Brother" should keep houseguests from expressing their views. That's the purpose of the show. However, there's a difference between expressing your views and using your views to belittle the minority. There's nothing wrong with promoting civil conversations and debates.

I'm saying this because an incident occurred between two houseguests after one said the "N" word loud and clear towards a black houseguest.

JC Mounduix, who was previously accused of sexually harassing girls in the "Big Brother" house, forwardly said the "N" word towards Bayleigh Dayton. This incident started after Dayton questioned if he was a midget or a dwarf based on his very short height.

Mounduix did not apologize for saying the word after Dayton told him not to say it. Instead, he argued with her and believed he had a right to say it. A lot of superfans are angered by this, especially considering Mounduix's history. For one, although he is part of the LGBT community, people have disapproved of his support for President Donald Trump.

Now, I wouldn't isolate anyone based on their views, but there are literally some things you shouldn't say, and the "N" word is one of them.

CBS, I know before a live feed, you have a disclaimer. Your network says that the producers and the network do not agree with the views of the houseguests, but when people say things like the "N" word, you don't do anything about it.

Don't cover this up.

It's clear that we need more black representation on this show. We need the racism to stop. We need the clear ignorance to stop. Something has to be done.

Cover Image Credit:

Instagram / @swaggyctv

Related Content

Facebook Comments