This is a comment by Justin Cascio on the post “The Difference between ‘white people’ and ‘White People’“.
“It kind of sounds like the White person that your friends complain about doesn’t exist, because finding that actual white person who is responsible, the American Hitler of slavery and racism, is a matter of finding a symbol: a scapegoat. When we take it out on each other, we know that we’re standing in for some larger whole, an identity group, and for history and the acts of people who are long dead. How to deal justly with one another, now?
“Talking with a white friend last week, we spoke as we often do about race and what our responsibility is as white men. I say it’s to take whatever capital we’ve got and use it to change the system for greater justice. My friend was saying that his peers, when asked to talk about their racial identity and pride, don’t have an identity: all they have is shame. The white people he’s gone to school with aren’t White; they don’t have any racial identity; they don’t have ceremonies, foods, holidays, ways of addressing elders, and the like, that they associate with being White. I know what he’s talking about; so many times, a conversation about whiteness gets derailed in a denial of whiteness: my white friends will tell me they’re Jewish, they’re ‘beige,’ anything to distinguish themselves from the alpha white male.
“The other half of the time, the problem is that they don’t see what’s theirs as unique; they think their culture is ‘everybody’s.’ White people can only seem to figure out what’s uniquely White by comparing it with minority cultures, because mainstream culture is White. The differences between ourselves and that alpha model make us antsy; how are we failing at being White? It’s this nature of the difference between our relationships to that mainstream, alpha white guy that remains the difference between being White and being Black. It’s White people’s responsibility to figure out what White is, not so we can be proud of our heritage, but to get past the shame, know ourselves, and from there, finally begin the journey to compassion.”
Photo credit: Flickr / garbocselle