Added: Dylan Carlin - Date: 02.11.2021 12:22 - Views: 19641 - Clicks: 1816
The room is racially diverse and full of people who have gotten into top law schools. They tend to think about race in their daily lives. But not a single hand goes up to answer my question—and this matters. I often start these talks by asking several volunteers to tell me what race they are. I then ask them how they know. White students often stop short, unable to identify and articulate the cultural, political, economic and historic clues that tell them they are part of whitenesslet alone what being part of whiteness truly means. I let the silence grow.
It gets uncomfortable. It is not a mystery to black people of color. Remember Amy Cooper? She may feel like old news now. How do I know? In this country, we have thousands of white people who consider themselves aware of the pain racism can cause, and who could never imagine themselves inflicting it—but then do. It is also how we get these moments repeatedly. Indeed, this idea is almost axiomatic. Will Ms. Cooper have a true and deep aha moment now, or no? If she does, what will she do with it? There is a grotesqueness and a horror to our racialized world right now. Things have never been great.
But the deluge of pain, the torrent of willful blindness amid violence—from the brutally racialized impact of COVID to the fates of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and others, from the actions of Ms. Cooper to the inaction of so many white people—is both deeply chronic and freshly acute. Whether they will do it remains to be seen. I myself feel brave enough to speak, here and now, despite how speaking out has hurt me in the past losing relationships, hearing racial slurs, etc.
Until a critical mass of white people begin and continue the work of anti-racism with their own lives, then uprisings and protests will function more as expressions of black and brown pain than as inflection points in the culture. After all, black and brown people have been resisting, uprising, and protesting in this country for centuries. If that were enough, it would have worked already. The missing link is white people doing deep, honest, and Black people white inventories and clean-up of their own relationship to white supremacy.
Phrased differently, it is white people Black people white progressive white people who are responsible for what happens now. Cooper, they linger in the fallacy that they could never be involved in a racist incident.
Either they accept that they have inherited this house of white supremacy, built by their forebears and willed to them, and they are now responsible for paying the taxes on that inheritance, or the status quo continues. I hope they will become radicalized by this moment and begin to fight fiercely for racial justice; but more than that, I hope they start at home, in their own minds and hearts.
As I tell my students: a white person rushing to do racial justice work without first understanding the impacts, uses, and deceptions of their own whiteness is like an untrained person rushing into the ER to help the nurses and doctors—therein probably lies more harm than good. The answers are all around you if you are willing to look and listen.
at letters time. By Savala Nolan. You can follow her on Instagram and on her blog. Be the first to see the Black people white cover of TIME and get our most compelling stories delivered straight to your inbox. Please enter a valid address. Please attempt to up again.
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