The Root has helpfully brought to our attention the fact that white people are climbing up on their lily white horses and being super fucking white again. Specifically: They’re starting an “It’s OK To Be White” movement, which I think is supposed to be like “Black Lives Matter” only, you know, completely pointless and super dumb. It’s OK to be white? NO FUCKING SHIT. It’s literally ALWAYS been OK to be white. More than that, it’s been great! White people get hired more, get paid more, and they get away with mass shootings without being labelled a “terrorist”! As a white person, I can tell you that I have never once been profiled, discriminated against, or in any other way impacted by the color of my skin. By my gender? Oh hells yes, I definitely have been harassed and paid less because of my apparent having-of-boobs, but never because of my race.
What is my race? Well, I’m your average New England mutt with bloodlines flowing back to England, France (by way of, I can only assume, drunken French Canadian trappers who somehow got lost in Vermont), and just a touch of Abenaki. My Native American bonafides are limited, and they’re something I’m only now starting to learn about. I thought the tribe didn’t exist anymore, because they weren’t really talked about. I had family stories, tales of my great grandmother who grew up with her tribe, but that was it. In the Northeast it seemed everyone happily intermingled, families joined, and somewhere along the line the culture was lost. Turns out that’s not the case! It just seemed that way because of a systematic denial of the Abenaki presence combined with, I shit you not, a eugenics program that forcibly sterilized Abenakis, as well as French Canadians, disabled people, and anyone deemed unfit to birth the next generation of Vermonters. Honestly, that’s a whole other topic I’ve been digging into, but the point is that it wasn’t until 2011 that local tribes started to gain state recognition. For myself, I’m not comfortable declaring myself an Abenaki, because I have no experience with the culture, and I’ve not lived my life struggling to maintain that identity. I’m grateful I have the opportunity to try and engage with that aspect of my heritage, but… well, I’m white. That’s been my racial experience. I’m the white that happens when a bunch of white people colonize a land and erase the identity of its inhabitants.
So I have zero fucking sympathy for anyone trying to reframe the current cultural dialogue to be about the oppression of white people. And even if it WAS about oppressing us? The pendulum swings both ways. Maybe it IS our time to get paid less, arrested more, and generally have society make shit harder for us. But this isn’t that. How do I know? BECAUSE OPPRESSION IS BAD. That’s, like, kind of the whole point here. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind or whatever. This is about recognizing the little and large ways that some people (the white ones!) have it easier than others. The way the system is rigged and how it’s benefited us. It’s about shutting the fuck up and listening to other perspectives for a change. “It’s OK To Be White” may as well be the fucking “Well, Actually…” movement.
Well, actually, that’s not right. “It’s OK To Be White” is a movement tailor-made for people who might be on that slippery slope to pure, 100%, grade-A Nazism.
And if “It’s OK To Be White” is simply supposed to assuage the guilt that arises from confronting the fact that white people have been privileged forever and after all, YOU personally aren’t racist so why should you feel responsible for The Way The World Works? Fuck that too. Because no matter how many times this is explained, it bears repeating: Recognizing the need for (and current lack of) equality, and attempting to treat everyone with basic respect, in no way makes white people or male people or cisgender people or straight people “lesser than.” This isn’t an attack on us, it’s an affirmation of the basic dignity and value of everyone else. Stop taking things so personally. Nobody wants or needs your guilt, but they could use your help. Be aware, be proactive, be an ally. Speak up when your voice can benefit others. Will you say the wrong thing? Yeah, probably. You think writing this piece isn’t nerve-wracking in its own way? But if you don’t engage, you won’t learn.
And the rest of the time?
Just shut the fuck up and let other people be heard for a change.