Why white people cannot experience racism
As we all know, in 1776 the country that we now inhabit was founded by a very large group of white men. They all signed their names to a fancy sheet of paper, writing into existence the authority of the white man in this nation. All of those powerful leaders built this government to benefit their needs and dreams, their exact wishes and specifications for this country. Unfortunately, those dreams came at the great and unjust expense of others.
Time and again, throughout our academic careers, we have visited the topic of racism and discrimination in America stemming from the enslavement of African Americans during our country’s inception. The beginning of white prosperity in America was just the beginning of the degradation and dehumanization of African Americans . The very foundation of our country was the idea that white people (mostly men) were humans, deserving of prosperity and freedom, that black people, as ‘non-humans’, did not. The systems that have been around since the beginning of our country did not benefit black people because they were not considered human. They were property, used for the success and prosperity of white men.
I believe that white people may have experienced hatefulness. But they did not experience racism.
Taking all of that into account, I would like to talk about the definition of racism. The complex idea of racism cannot be boiled down into a simple sentence found in the dictionary. It is a culmination of centuries of white supremacy in our country. Racism is the systemic oppression of non-white people. It is the mistreatment of people, based on their skin color, through the use of systems and institutions. Racism has been built into the fabric of our country, woven into the laws and the minds of the people who inhabit it. Not all white people view people of color as lesser than themselves; however, it would be ignorant to ignore the large amount of people who still do believe and live out the idea of white supremacy.
And now, to my main point. Racism against white people does not exist. I believe that people may have had their feelings hurt by someone of a race different than their own. I believe that white people may have experienced hatefulness. But they did not experience racism. White people have not been systematically oppressed for centuries. They have not had to experience institutionalized oppression. White people have not been complexly excluded from political processes, human rights, and basic decency from their fellow humans. It is completely disrespectful that a person who has not had to experience the plight and hardships of the African American community would be so comfortable as to use a word with such weight.
Simply because of the white color of one’s skin, white people are favored in this country above all others. White people do not have to worry about being pulled over because of the color of their skin. White people do not have to worry about being innocently shot and killed based on the color of their skin. White people do not have to worry about fleeing their home country and being denied asylum based on the color of their skin. White people are not consistently subject to injustice based on the color of their skin. White people in modern times may not have done anything personally to to warrant that privilege, but it is a simple fact of living in the United States of America. The sooner white people can recognize that privilege and their complicitness in the racist foundations of our country, the sooner we can begin rectifying the ugly and insidious injustices done to black people for centuries. And if white people can’t put aside their own fragility and recognize their privilege, then white people are the problem.