On the White Perspective and Racism

I have been hiding from the news. The barrage of horror stories told from across the soft fireside glow of the electronic screen was just too much for me handle in the seemingly endless and chilly night of U.S. culture and politics right now. So, I retreated from current events to the warmth of my tent and zipped myself into my sleeping bag of ignorance. But, as I was eating my beans and rice for dinner tonight, I hazily stumbled out of my tent and tripped over this video where CBS Atlanta’s Sharon Reed responds to a white viewer’s email regarding Reed’s mayoral election coverage:

The fall jolted me awake.

I want to address white people from my white person’s perspective. White people, I imagine that you don’t like being called a racist. I imagine that you probably think of yourself as a good person. You have existed in a world created by white people for white people. Media, education, and politics, in all forms for thousands of years throughout Western-European culture, has overwhelmingly been designed by white people for white people. This has created the white perspective, a perspective that has been magnified and amplified throughout history so as to appear as absolute truth – as absolute reality. The thing is though, there are other perspectives. Black men and women, latinx men and women, and other people from other racial and ethnic backgrounds, have different perspectives. They don’t experience the world as white people do.

Now more than ever these different perspectives are given a seat at the table and the opportunity to be heard in the media, education, and politics. And, I imagine this challenges the way you see yourself, white people. I imagine that it feels like reality has become tenuous and precarious. I imagine that you feel threatened at the very core of who you are and how you conceive of yourself. The first step of mourning is denial, the next step is anger. White people, your response to the death of your white perspective largely oscillates between denial and anger.

I hope that you can take the next step in the mourning process to acceptance. Accept that the white perspective is not absolute truth – it is not absolute reality. If you see yourself as a good person, then I imagine that you don’t want to hurt anyone, right? And, if a good person does unintentionally hurt someone, then they take responsibility for it, apologize, and try to make it right, right? Here’s your time white people. Step up, take responsibility, apologize, and try to make it right. No, you are not responsible for the entire system of racism and oppression. But, white peoples’ sensitivity to talking about racism makes white people willfully ignorant of what they do to perpetuate and justify racism.

Try to make it right. Seek out other perspectives. Intellectuals, professionals, activists, and every day people from a diversity of backgrounds have been writing and speaking about these issues for decades. Seek out those peoples’ voices, listen fairly and try to understand their perspectives.

I am going back into my sleeping bag now.