Seriously though, why is any mention of the facts about slavery, Jim Crow, & the impact of institutionalized racism on the black community in America immediately parsed as “You hate all white people” by these dumb motherfuckers? I need to know like I’m 2 because I have spent a not insignificant chunk of today with people determined to tell me that historical accuracy & recognition of current social context is bad & divisive & not the way to change the future. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it is a common refrain right up to the point where that history is of oppression. White people who don’t do this kneejerking can you explain to me why some of your brethren feel the need to make that leap?
Right. I’m not entirely certain I understand it myself as a white person, and I don’t-I generally stay out of race debates, precisely because I don’t want to say the wrong thing and I’m aware that it’s not my conversation. I can’t really have dialogue in that discussion, you know? So I attempt to just internalize as much of the discussion as I can on my part and hope that I can calmly explain it to other white people once I’ve found my bearings myself. Anyway!
There’s this…odd individualism that is inherently white-not that other races don’t or shouldn’t have it, but we’ve cultivated it in our society. We’ve shaped culture to make every white individual a special snowflake, I think. And that lasts-up to a point.
Because PoC-you’ve always had to deal with being deliberately misunderstood by people who are willingly obtuse and totally okay with saying the whole is indicative of the many within it. “Token” characters. You are always a member of the large group. White people don’t generally think that way-they do, of course, there will always be outliers (see: racists). White people think of ourselves, first and foremost, as lone heroes. Protagonists in our own stories. We haven’t had to deal with a single horrendous interpretation of our race in a work.
I realize I’m mostly dealing with fiction and art in this, but fiction and art-and history, the history we’ve been taught, which is propaganda, the finest art of all-shapes the way we think. It shapes the way we identify and find ourselves. So! We think of ourselves as individuals first, who-only occassionally-have had to think of white people as a whole, in relation to the individual.
Because the individualism? Finds its way out in “the white race”, if you will. What I mean is, when you hear, “You hate all white people!” what is really being meant on a subconscious level is “You hate me as a person, separate from my race! Because I am white! But I am myself first.”
We’re not used to thinking of ourselves as a group-because it makes us feel cornered. And we’re not used to it. But I actually think, if people thought that through, that would answer their other questions, about “recognition of current social context.” If they thought for half a second, “why are PoC so angry? It’s in the past” And then thought, “How would I feel, if I had been cornered into being nothing more than my race? And had the things done to me that we’ve historically done to them?”
Wouldn’t I be angry? Wouldn’t I do everything in my power to make sure it didn’t happen again? Wouldn’t I do what I could to wipe out the vestiges of the thinking that perpetrated that?
I don’t think people like to think about it, because guilt can be fucking uncomfortable. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth understanding.
I don’t know, I run circles around my own head trying to figure this stuff out. I still find myself having to suppress the kneejerk reaction, sometimes-but I recognize that I’m a product of my culture, and I can think through it and not let myself be ruled by what I was taught by society.
And the entire time I’m writing this, I’m thinking, “Christ, I sound just like those assholes who must get PoC so angry. The ones who do try weasel their way in and feel super special.” I can only hope that my answer gives some vague idea of the thought process on the white end, because we do think differently. We were brainwashed to see ourselves a certain way, I guess.
Anyway, feel free to rip apart/analyze/whatever. I’m shaking in my boots at all of this because I’m so aware of being out of place.
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- chipuni answered: Their self-image comes from thinking White Americans are (nearly) perfect. Attacking their history is attacking their self-image.