It’s time to stop guilt tripping white people

There’s no debate whether or not racism negatively affects the lives of millions of Americans, particularly African Americans, who are at least three times more likely to go to jail or be killed by police than Caucasians. While minority groups like homosexuals and atheists are making huge strides towards equality, African Americans are still struggling with discrimination and police brutality, which is still so common that it recently inspired the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement.

It’s no accident that Black Lives Matter came into existence. It grew out of the need for a revival in the national dialogue on racism. African Americans have been suffering in silence while the rest of the country goes about their business assuming everyone is doing more or less okay. As humbling as it is to talk about racial inequality, it needs to be addressed, because if it’s not, it will lead to more suffering, which will lead to more anger, which will lead to more disunity, and eventually the tension will be released through yet another American race riot.

In order to solve the causes of racial inequality there are some major hurdles that America needs to overcome. The first is the apathy that stems from people being ignorant of how hard African Americans have it. Many affluent Americans have a hard time accepting that African Americans don’t have every opportunity and privilege they do. Until they acknowledge that reality, they’ll go on about their lives in a day dream having no motivation to change anything.

The second, and arguably bigger, hurdle is for African Americans to accept that white people aren’t the problem, and not all white people are majestically privileged. Until the African American community as a whole accepts that, they will continue to live in their own racially biased day dream that misdirects them from addressing the true source of their problems.

To that end, I’d like to give my personal testimony of what it’s been like growing up as a white male in America. Then I’ll tie that into the bigger picture and offer a theory on how to end systemic discrimination.

Every year in school as far back as I can remember, I learned in my history classes how “the white man” slaughtered the Native Americans, enslaved Africans and pillaged the planet. Outside of school I was exposed to documentaries, movies and books about all the evil things the white man has done to other races. From the earliest age, I was indoctrinated to feel profound shame for the sins of every white person’s ancestors.

The only reason I had to grow up coping with this baggage is because the lottery of fate gave me white skin at birth, which made me guilty by association. Unlike anyone else born with any other skin color, I was forbidden from celebrating my skin color. Every year I sat by and watched as all the other ethnicities celebrated government sanctioned heritage pride months. They even got their own magazines, television channels and schools devoted to celebrating their race while I was taught the worst thing I could do was celebrate mine. It hurt my feelings watching shows like “Roc” and “Undercover Brother” that unambiguously mocked white people, and that was totally socially acceptable.

I’ve never asked for sympathy for carrying the white man’s burden, because nobody cares. I don’t deserve mercy because of my skin color. Society tells me I already have more privilege than anyone else. To celebrate anything about my arbitrary skin color would be disrespectful to everyone else. The most righteous thing I can do is resent the color of my skin and all the privilege it bestows on me. 

As a child this was impossibly confusing to me, because I grew up dirt poor. Before the age of 11 I lived in a trailer house in the middle of nowhere. I wore homemade clothes made from cheap curtain fabric. I threw up bile on several occasions because I was so hungry my stomach had begun digesting itself. My father and my older brother beat me so many times I stopped counting somewhere around 250. I didn’t spend my formative years in an ivory tower. I spent them in fear and pain.

I went to a predominantly Mexican elementary school, where I was the racial minority. My best friend in elementary school was a Mexican boy named Luciano whose mother wouldn’t let me come to his house because she was unapologetically prejudice against white people. In high school I went to a predominantly African American school. The black students would punk me at lunch and steal my money. They’d throw basketballs at my head in gym class. I lived three blocks from the projects and couldn’t walk the streets at night because I would be beaten or killed for being white in a black neighborhood.

My parents couldn’t afford to send me through college. So I sold my soul to the military because that was the only other way I could advance my life besides going into a lifetime of debt. I had a conversation with an Asian American officer and an Asian American enlisted woman about whether or not we should try to get commissioned and become officers ourselves. The officer told the woman she should definitely apply for officer school because her minority status will guarantee quick promotions.

I left the military and got a job at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board where my boss was a Mexican woman with zero credentials other than a degree from an online diploma mill. She lied about her qualifications and ruined everything she touched, but management wouldn’t fire her, because they created her superfluous position for no other reason than to say a minority female worked in our department. I’ve worked for other minorities who got small business loans, scholarships and other opportunities that I was excluded from because I just happen to be born a white male.  All I got was told to apologize to the world for my privilege.

Growing up in Texas I got called “gringo” by Hispanics and “cracker” by African Americans. While stationed in Europe I got overcharged by businesses on a regular basis for being American. Political activists called me a Yankee pig for being in the military. While stationed in Hawaii, I got called “Haole” by Hawaiians. I immigrated to New Zealand for a few years where I got called “Pakeha” by Maoris. Radical feminists tell me I’m nothing but a chauvinistic, rape-hungry meat dildo. Christians and Muslims tell me I’m so horrible I deserve to burn in Hell for not believing in their God. Rich customers walk all over me at work and treat me like a second class citizen. Country folk talk down to me for dressing like a city slicker.

Far left liberals tell me I need to constantly “check my privilege” and admit that being white automatically makes me a racist who can’t comprehend what anyone else is going through. I’ve even been told I should feel guilty for feeling white guilt because white guilt is racist. Nobody has any sympathy for the fact that I was born into this bizarre, no-win situation, because I’m white, and that overshadows any hardships, sacrifices, missed opportunities or attacks I’ve had to endure. Someone reading this will label me a racist for bringing any of this up.

I’m not a racist. I’m nothing. I’m just a poor white trash kid who has spent my life struggling to pay my bills. I never murdered, enslaved or attacked anyone because of the color of their skin, and to my knowledge, neither has anyone in my family tree.

I’m nobody’s problem, and I have zero power to change the system for the better or worse because I spend all my time just trying to survive. Any time spent casting blame on me for anything is time wasted that could be used addressing the actual source of the world’s problems.

If you want to know why cops and judges are so unsympathetic to the African American community, ask them directly. There’s no centrally orchestrated conspiracy within the justice system. Every time a cop or judge throws the book at someone, it’s a decision they made independently. The main factor in their decision to be hard or soft on a criminal, is whether or not they believe that person will be a repeat offender. The main reason a cop unholsters their gun is if they believe there’s a threat to their life.

Imagine being a cop working the street beat in a metropolis. You’re looking around you, scanning the faces of everyone you see, looking for danger. Looking for a repeat offender with a gun. You’re not going to care about scrawny white kids who listen to Pearl Jam. You’re going to be looking for people of any color who dress like gangsta rappers, because if you walk, talk, and dress like a gangster, then you probably identify with gangster culture, which normalizes and glorifies crime, violence, arrogance and disrespect for the law.

Not all African Americans are dangerous or gangsters, but police are too quick to stereotype them that way. Many employers are too. You can blame them for being ignorant, but half the blame rests on the gangster culture that created this negative stereotype to begin with.

As long as gangster culture is synonymous with mainstream African American culture, people will continue to stereotype African Americans negatively. Gangster culture exists because it’s a response to the desperate living conditions and lack of opportunities in the ghetto. If you fix that, then the worst aspects of gangster culture will fade away. Until you fix that, no amount of social activism or hard-on-crime policies will make the problem go away.

The cause of economic oppression isn’t the skin color of the majority. The problem is the predatory nature of our economy. Blaming white people will never fix the economy. The solution lies in creating a more sustainable, equitable economy. Once everyone has unlimited access to education and doesn’t have to live in fear of being able to afford to survive, then everyone’s complaints against each other will fall to the wayside as we all just get on with celebrating life and the fellow humans we’re blessed to share this planet with.

Hopefully that happens in my lifetime. In the meantime, I’m done apologizing for being white. If you’re not done blaming me for the color of my skin, then you’re a part of the problem.

Here are some more blogs that address the real source of inequality:

Macroeconomics

Microeconomics

Issues in the Workplace

 


19 responses to “It’s time to stop guilt tripping white people

  • Hush

    Wow this is a messy comment. So please, don’t tell me it’s a bad comment, I mainly wrote it to vent and solidify my opinions, and I worked too hard on it to delete it.
    I kinda want to put out the feelings that I’ve have about this topic as well. I really feel for the plight of the white guilt thing. I am white, and we learn about all these horrible things that white people did in school. White people this, Europeans people that, oh they were so bad. But the thing is, it has nothing to do with race. If blacks lived in Europe and whites in Africa, shit would be the same. Our roles would be reversed, but still with parralell problems.
    And that’s really the thing. I don’t want to be shamed for what my “culture” did, cause I am not responsible for any of that. I don’t feel responsibility for anything accept for the things that i personally caused. Nothing else. I am me, I don’t have a culture, I had nothing to do with Europeans, nothing to do with slavery, and so I shouldn’t be shamed. Sometimes, I kinda want to be a teacher. I won’t, because the pay is shit and I hate smart ass kids like myself, but I feel like I could do a better job.
    And, holy shit sorry that this paragraph is disorganized af, but I get so fed up with how sensitive people are about the movies. They say, oh it’s a cultural problem, it’s a problem with america’s society and it shows that we are all racist assholes. Well no, it’s a few CEOs and some demographic charts in Hollywood that is racist. The whitewashing of the Oscars, and that shit. It’s crazy. If everybody gets so upset about this stuff, we should make separate sections. Best black actor, best female actress (oh wait we already have that), best Latino actor, and best white actor.

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    • Fred

      Remember, you don’t have to be paid to teach. I believe the most important lesson anyone can teach another, is to be tolerant, accepting of all our differences and diversities.

      Like

  • Fred

    Here is an example of white privilege for you.

    White Privilege is when you can wave your gun at a group of people you hate and be called “a protester”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/anti-muslim-protest-in-dallas-features-fatigues-masks-lots-of-guns/

    Like

  • Don Wait For It Mann

    Interesting blog post and liked how you mentioned your own personal story. Even though I’m not white, I agreed and understood with some parts of your post, but if we look closely, the real issue isn’t “guilt tripping white people,” but the fact that we are doing the us vs. them mentality in all of these situations, black vs. white. If we don’t look at race, all of these issues are truly human issues and inequality. Race is not the problem. It’s the system and the issue of pitting people against each other instead of looking a the bigger picture.

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  • haliphax

    FFS, it’s about systemic racism, not individual racism. People who phrase it on an individual level are just being dicks, or completely misunderstand the machine that has been slowly and deliberately built to squash them.

    Yes, poor is poor, but aside from your economic lot in life, you still have advantages by being white-skinned. That’s not your fault–it’s the fault of the system that has been built in such a way as to provide those advantages.

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    • S

      You missed the passages where he details receiving significant disadvantages solely because of the color of his skin.

      “White privilege’ is a two way street, and frankly, in the current world, systemic, institutional discrimination against white males outweighs the privileges they enjoy.

      Like

  • John

    Of the races the blacks have the most millionaires per capita in the U.S. If blacks had not been brought over from Africa as slaves their ancestors would have remained slaves in Africa to a much harsher treatment than they got in America. In a few generations the blacks have achieved a status in the country that they could never have done any where else.

    The reason for the mistreatment of the colored is brought on by bleeding hearts that think the blacks are inferior. The do gooders invented laws to level the playing field to help them out- equal rights and such. Such laws have caused some animosity among some whites and spoiled many blacks to thinking that they’re special. If the gov’t had stayed out of it the black race would have by now integrated into the culture naturally.

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    • Fred

      “Of the races the blacks have the most millionaires per capita in the U.S.” Do you have statistics to back up this claim?

      Like

    • buddhaflow

      Yes, your first stat is almost certainly false.

      But two interesting things to consider: First, only a mere 388,000 African slaves were brought to the area that is now the USA. This is according to Henry Louis Gates Jr. in an article on TheRoot.com. There are now 40 million.

      So, in this horrible land of oppression and suffering, Africans expanded their population a hundred fold.

      Second, yes, Africans descendants in America have arguably the highest standard of living of any African groups in the world. So, the fact that their descendants were sent over in slave galleys to America was a suffering for them, but tremendously good fortune for their descendants.

      Like

  • Carol Factor

    Today- as an “older” white woman, my rough childhood behind me, in that both of my parents were alcoholics and my dad was a paranoid schizophrenic, I remember my grandmother using the “N” word whenever she spoke of black people (in the ’50’s). I didn’t care then one way or the other. She hired her house cleaners, yard workers, but didn’t respect them because they were “beneath her”. As a teenager in the 50’s, my summers off from school spent with my grandmother became the only sanity and stability in my life. In my late teen years, I blew off the chances my grandmother offered me for advanced education (a valued commodity in our family) and instead, got married at 19 and you can guess the rest: alcoholic husband, 3 children, etc., divorced 16 years later (slow learner) and with no job skills, the corporate world accepted me, trained me, promoted me, saved my life and the lives of my 3 children by welcoming my female whiite skin inside a male driven company. One reason; I was pretty. Being white and pretty, a double whammy for success in a time when women rarely received corporate titles such as VP and CEO, my income soared and finally, my bank account that once held $29.00 at best, reached new heights so my children could buy new shoes and prom dresses. All this time, I didn’t focus my attention on the “black people’s plight”; no, I was too busy surviving and the history of black people, their heritage, the inequality they spoke of, police brutality and whatever else was done to them that was NOT done to white people, took a back seat to survival in my case. An uninformed, hard working, female with troubles of my own, the attitude of my fellow black skinned co-workers toward me, a white woman in a position of authority, disturbed and hurt me. I’d call it “snobby” and unfriendly. Genuine in my respect of black people and the struggles they had that paralleled my own (such as you write about in your post) I wondered why they “didn’t like me” when I thought they were such great people. One time in a company comedy skit, I painted my face with black stuff and sang a pretty good rap song of sorts-not to poke fun but to be funny.
    That’s my cent and a half ramblings- sort of related to your great post (which will cause me to think more about skin color than usual).

    Like

    • Fred

      I really enjoyed reading this. If you should ever write a book about your life and I do think you have a story to share, please be sure to tell us so I can purchase it.

      Like

    • haliphax

      I was following along right up until where you put on blackface and “sang a pretty good rap song of sorts”. Then, my jaw hit the floor and I was flabbergasted by your lack of situational awareness.

      Like

      • Carol Factor

        The whole point was that in this group and situation, NO one cared what color skin – black, brown, white, it didn’t matter in this rock band skit, a thing of the long ago past for sure but it did happen in this particular company without offense just as men put on women’s long wigs and lipstick and skirts for this same musical skit. A stage, microphones, costumes, music, the whole works, a once a year affair at this company.

        Like

      • Junk Eb

        Regarding Haliphax above..

        “I was following along right up until where you put on blackface and ?sang a pretty good rap song of sorts?. Then, my jaw hit the floor and I was flabbergasted by your lack of situational awareness.”

        You do know you are placing current and modern viewpoints on a historical event? Your version of what is right and wrong today has no bearing on what actually happened in the past and how that was viewed back then by the people who were there and lived through it in the social culture that was normal for the time.

        Take some of that indignation and apply it to actual issues in the world like starvation, wars, water deprivation, and so on that are actually killing people int he world today instead of creating division on your community with race baiting and faux-outrage.

        You’d do us all a favour and may actually help to save lives and end suffering.

        Like

  • Curt

    White people need to stop losing their minds when called racist.

    Like

  • Curt

    Capitalism is not the problem. If socialism is the answer, it was a stupid question.

    Like

  • kbeglinger

    Wise Sloth: I really enjoy reading your thoughts. I think you are one of the sharpest minds on the Internet! Not sure how I found your site last year, but I’m glad I did.

    Life isn’t easy for those of us who live pay check to pay check no matter what. Like you, I enlisted in the military but my excuse was to escape the nothingness of the central valley in California as a result of sell off of family farms to Big-Ag.

    My first exposure to “white guilt” was when I was in the military. I went on a double-date with 3 African Americans (another couple and my date) in the 80s. The topic of conversation became a bit shocking when the other woman began talking about the privileges of having light or white skin. What struck me most about her words was that it was the first time I realized that some blacks disliked other blacks with lighter skin. It was the first time I had heard the words “bright child.” I remember sitting there feeling guilty about being white.

    In grad school, a huge part of my program was based on multiculturalism. I was required to take four 1-credit classes that were ethnic-centered for Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans. I will never forget when a black classmate said it was all a waste of time and that the real issue was economic injustice. He summed up his thinking: “Poor whites have it just as bad as poor blacks.” His words were not well received by the professor–in fact he was scoffed at for saying them. They are words I never forgot. (The program has since added a 1-credit European American course to its list of required courses.)

    It was obvious to me by the sentiment that was shared during many hours of required discussions, the white race was responsible for most things horrible in the world. It caused me distress, like having the weight of the world on my shoulders, knowing that I had two white boys to raise. I was not, however, under any circumstances going to raise my boys to feel guilty for their skin color, in effect teaching them to hate themselves. Instead, I raised them with humility and compassion, that has all too often left them at a disadvantage I’m afraid. We live in a time of a great spiritual void and a rapidly increasing time of competition for wanting all things of comfort and self-importance.

    I have been kicked and denied seats on public transportation, and called “white bitch” many times in the inner city where I used to work. I got to be honest, these incidents have not helped me remain sympathetic to the cause.

    When I complained to rail security, the security officer told me the perpetrators weren’t breaking any laws–just being rude. Would they have said the same thing if I had been the one kicking and screaming at African Americans?

    I’m not sure I know what the objective of white guilt is, but it’s not something I feel any responsibility for anymore.

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  • Fred

    Okay. All that is mostly true. It is not right to blame white people for the woe’s of the black people, There is still a matter of double standards though. How do you explain African American’s being only 13% of the overall population, but 44% of the prison population? Whites being 77% of the U.S. population make up only 32% of the prison population.

    Other statistics that might suggest white privilege:
    About 14 million Whites and 2.6 million African Americans report using an illicit drug
    5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
    African Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.
    African Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months).

    I agree you should not apologize for who you are. However, I do think you should acknowledge that their is more of an issue of double standards and unfair treatment to blacks than to whites and we could all be working together to resolve it. Because as long as Black people are getting imprisoned or killed more often and easily for the same crimes white people are committing when they are only making up 13% of the population we are going to have serious tension among us.

    I long for the day when we are all just Americans regardless of beliefs and skin tones, but the longer we deny that something is off about our system the longer we will be waiting for that day.

    You make a point that as a poor white person you are denied opportunities that better off white people would have. I am sorry you had a rough childhood, I wish you didn’t have to go through that and were able to see the nicer things in life at a younger age. I hope you can see though that you had a better chance of improving your life as a white person whereas if you were black your chances of being in prison or dead right now would be far more likely.

    You don’t see many blogs like this being made by black people our age. Ever wonder why? I personally believe without statistics to back it up that more hurdles are thrown at black people than at white people to overcome in order to improve their lives. Even though the KKK isn’t lynching anymore as a weekend activity, oppression towards black people is still strong, but less visible.

    Like

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