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We need to have a national conversation about race in America. If the constant barrage of issues of the deaths of minority citizens at the hands of white police officers hasn't informed you, certainly the rhetoric being spewed during this Presidential Election cycle should cause you to take some notice.

How difficult is it to understand that human beings are deserving of a modicum of respect and at least a whiff of empathy? Pretty difficult if you read through Jona Olsson's essay, Detour-Spotting, which we have meticulously been surveying these past three weeks. The continuing reasons for why we not only haven't renounced racism, but haven't even gotten to have a proper conversation about it is an issue worthy of exploration and understanding. There must be a gap between what minorities see and what white people see when they look at this issue. And that's what we're here to check.

Today's topic is yet another that relates to that oft-misinterpreted phrase, "White Privilege."

21) White On White, and Righteously So

“What is wrong with those white people? Can’t they see how racist they’re being?” or “I just can’t stand to be around white people who act so racist anymore.” And


You’re preaching to the choir

“You’re wasting your time with us, we’re not the people who need this training.”


Reality Check and Consequence

We distance ourselves from “other” white people. We see only unapologetic bigots, card-carrying white supremacists and white people outside our own circle as “real racists.” We put other white people down, trash their work or behavior, or otherwise dismiss them. We righteously consider ourselves white people who have evolved beyond our racist conditioning.

This is another level of denial. There are no “exceptional white people.” (4) We may have attended many anti-racism workshops; we may not be shouting racist epithets or actively discriminating against people of color, but we still experience privilege based on our white skin. We benefit from this system of oppression and advantage no matter what our intentions are. This distancing serves only to divide us from potential allies and limit our own learning.


In most cases, racism is, especially in these long past slavery and Jim Crow days of the 21st Century, institutional. We've already discussed this form of racism and how it manifests, meaning it's frequently not an individual who is responsible for racist acts, it's the systematic elements of racist thought and behavior that creates circumstances where either white people are favored, black people are oppressed or both.

Under this system of institutional racism, nobody has a clean record in handling these issues. White people still are treated with privilege. That isn't just or fair. And even the most supportive white anti-racists are still beneficiaries of that privilege. If a group of white people marched in a Black Lives Matter protest, it's less likely that they would be the first people arrested, tear gassed or shot with rubber bullets by police, even if they were the most disruptive part of the protest.

But that's what we mean by Institutional Racism. This is the systemic method of favor based on skin color that has characterized at least one part of our racist society for decades.

While it's great that some white people are critical of other white people for their lack of understanding and lack of empathy when it comes to dealing with these racial issues, those are the people who need to stop being critical and start helping out. Rather than just issuing a tsk tsk and shaking their heads, those who have reached a better level of understanding should be helping to inform and educate those who have not so that they can learn, change and grow as well. Being "the best anti-racist" really shouldn't be anyone's goal. It's really about ending racism entirely, and that can't happen as long as people continue to hold these racist beliefs, either purposely or subconsciously.

Truth is, it's those that aren't even aware of their racist tendencies that are the most difficult to reach and need the most support and explanation to help them through it. It takes particular care and sensitivity to reach someone like that, and there are, maybe hundreds of thousands of people like that who must be reached.

It takes time. It takes a lot of time.

That's part of the reason why this essay by Ms. Olsson is so useful and important. We have to go through and root out every excuse we have for not taking on racism, come to terms with all of that and then dismantle this system that is holding back not just minorities in this country, but pretty much everyone who isn't in the One Percent.

We all need to work on these issues and if we see someone who isn't getting it, laughing at them, cursing at them under your breath or simply staying silent will not accomplish anything. Granted, there is a time and place to share such lessons, and there is the issue of safety when it comes to stepping up to support minorities, so this is not about putting your life at risk if the situation is not safe for teaching. But ultimately, we need white allies to help inform other white people about all of these points.

Despite the common belief that this is a problem for minorities only, racism truly is everyone's issue, and we need everyone to start doing some positive things to end it, so we can send all of the energy, the time spent, the focus (as an example: the fact that I could have been writing about something, ANYTHING else in this journal for these past twenty-two days) toward things that can help improve our cities, our states, our country and our world.

We're only here for a little while. Let's use that time to make things better for others, not worse.



Previous thinkposts in this series:

1. Day One - I'm Colorblind
2. Day Two - Bootstrap Theory
3. Day Three - Reverse Racism
4. Day Four - Blame The Victim
5. Day Five - The White Knight
6. Day Six - Lighten Up
7. Day Seven - Don't Blame Me
8. Day Eight - BWAME
9. Day Nine - We Have Overcome
10. Day Ten - The End Run
11. Day Eleven - Due Process
12. Day Twelve - By Association
13. Day Thirteen - The Penitent
14. Day Fourteen - White Wash
15. Day Fifteen - Not Here

XX. Intermission

16. Day Sixteen - Former Life
17. Day 17 - Straightening Up
18. Day 18 - The Isolationist
19. Day 19 - Blackwards
20. Day 20 - Teach Me

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