What It Means To Be 'White'

What It Means To Be 'White'

This is the defining characteristic of whiteness.
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One afternoon I was finishing watching a documentary called "I Am Not Your Negro." It had been nominated for an Academy Award, so I thought it would be worth my time to watch and learn something about race. In summary, the documentary connected the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the Black Lives Matter Movement of the 2010s. I did learn something indeed, but it was not exclusively from watching the film.

I had begun watching the film one afternoon but had to stop halfway through, as I had a closing shift at my summer job. I resumed it the next day, a family joined me in watching the film about halfway through, and the narrator began speaking. She asked me who was supposed to be speaking and I said it is someone portraying James Baldwin. They said they had never heard of Mr. Baldwin, and I explained to them that he was an author, literary and cultural critic with deep ties to the Civil Rights Movement. They nodded and continued watching the film with me, but not long before taking out their iPad.

In one graphic sequence, "I Am Not Your Negro" shows a series of lynchings from America in the 1920s and 1930s. It was at this point that I temporarily stopped watching the film because I noticed something quite worrisome. As the lynching sequence continued, I looked over at my family member who was still deeply entranced with their iPad. They had no idea that grizzly images of death and suffering were displayed on the 70” television standing less than ten feet from them, and if they did, they were doing well to ignore it. That, I soon realized, was whiteness. Slavery, segregation, disenfranchisement, lynching, and police brutality, are all things that have little to no concern to white people in the U.S., as they have rarely been victims of those phenomena. I continued watching the film and soon enough the documentary came to a conclusion.

As the credits began to roll, my family member and I learned that the narrator of the film, the voice of James Baldwin, was Samuel L. Jackson. This surprised both my family member and myself, as we had no idea the solemn, reflective, and sometimes sorrowful voice on the television was the same voice that recited Ezekiel 25:17 from Pulp Fiction. I jokingly said, “You would have never known it was him because he didn't say ‘motherf***er’ at the end of each sentence.” My family member laughed in amusement, but then I soon discovered that I am white too.

In short, by watching and not watching this documentary, I learned that whiteness means allowing oneself to be unaware of the atrocities and injustices suffered by countless members of minority communities, particularly in the United States. This is not to accuse the white community of willful ignorance, but rather to urge them to educate themselves on the inconvenient history of slavery, expropriating native land, and the impact of segregation.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The 17 Best Unpopular Opinions From The Minds Of Millennials

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

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Stop Using Your Parents As A Bank

Nobody likes a Mona-Lisa.

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A few years ago, I had an argument with my dad about privilege. I off-handedly mentioned how I was privileged to have what I have, and he got defensive about how he had worked for most of his life to get to where he is. Read that sentence again and tell me where the miscommunication happened.

I said I had privilege; he said he did not.

He thought I was meaning he didn't work for where he was and didn't deserve it. While he may have some privilege by being a white guy, he had to work hard to get where he is now. He started from the bottom, from three jobs to make ends meet, to well-off and not having to worry about counting pennies for peanut butter.

I, however, never worked for that. I was born into a middle-class family and never had to worry about where my next meal would come from or whether I would have clothing that properly fit me. Most of my life, my money has not been my own.

When I came to college at 18, I paid for nothing. My dorm, my tuition, my groceries, my gas—my parents paid for all of it.

I'm 21 now, and I still don't pay for my tuition. My parents still pay most of my rent. My utilities, my groceries, my gas, my entertainment, and my cats are all me, but the vast majority of the money I spend isn't. My parents can easily pay for everything, and I could ask them to do that forever, but I don't want them to.

I don't think anybody should.

I don't care if your parents' salaries combine to be seven digits a year—you should have your own source of income. You should work for what you get, even if they're still helping out. Because guess what? Your parents aren't always going to be around to take care of you.

People around you don't always have that privilege, either, so hearing about how all you did during the summer was travel, how it felt "so good" for your "soul" or whatever, is rubbing salt in the wounds for everyone else. Most people have to work for at least part of their summer, if not all of it, and everyone should have to experience that at some point.

I'm not saying everyone should have to start from the bottom. I don't think anyone should ever have to worry about if they'll get more than one meal today or if they can pay their next bill, but I do think people should have to work for something, even if it's not a necessity.

Nobody likes to hear this:

So just don't do it. Instead, get a job. If you can't (because we all know how hard it can be), ask your parents if there is any extra work you can do for them so that you earn what you use.

Don't be Mona-Lisa.

Use the privilege you were born with, but don't abuse it.

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