Unpacking what it means to be white in the US means:
Understanding that our country, our culture, our society is white-centered.
Our country was built on the idea that all white men are created equal. While this democracy was an expansion of freedom from the monarchy, class structures, and religious oppression that birthed the U.S., there is a central white identity to the US that underlies everything. How ironic is it that our country was founded on the basis of freedom, yet we have an entire population of people of color who aren’t as free?
Understanding that if you are white, you by definition have “white privilege.”
The term white privilege has a few definitions, but basically it means as white people, we live our lives in a society was made for us and centers around us. Practically this looks like that we can walk into stores, apply to jobs, and ask for help from police, and our race won’t cause us a problem. We expect to see white people in charge, in authority figures, as teachers, carpenters, store clerks. Stores are made for us, society is made for us. We don’t have to think about being white.
Understanding that we have an unconscious bias against people of color.
The best way to prove this point is the Harvard implicit bias test. Go take it and notice what happens. You can have the best intentions, but unless you were raised in a highly proactive, anti-racist family that actively worked to educate you and illuminate these issues, you cannot help but absorb all the negative messaging about black people.
Talking about racism and anti-racism is going to be uncomfortable
It’s going to be uncomfortable because deep in our bodies, we know that we have an unfair advantage, that we are biased even despite good intentions, and that we are going to accidentally reveal these things to people of color. Guess what? They already know. We can’t hide the fact that we are white living in a society built around white people.
There are two Americas, there are two quarantines
This article, shared by a woman of color on FB, says it best. “Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They’re Okay — Chances Are They’re Not.”
What can you do as a white person?
Educate yourself about the black experience. Dig into your inner world of bias and what you’re feeling. Listen to people of color. Acknowledge their experience but don’t usurp it. Take action.
My dear white friends, For those of you offering tears, but not knowing what to do. Here is a list of things that you…