Guilty-white-person: You’re being too sensitive, let’s just talk about sports.
Reality says: It makes sense that things don’t bother you when they aren’t attacking you.
Guilty-white-person: Racism finished when Martin Luther King was assassinated – calm down.
Reality says: People of colour are currently so disproportionately incarcerated that many are calling it new slavery. Police brutality against people of colour is incomparable to the treatment of white suspects. Across education, health, wealth and housing, systemic discrimination is alive and well–the stats are there.
Guilty-white-person: If only they worked harder, they wouldn’t be attacked by the system.
Reality says: Because white people benefit the most from white supremacist institutions and law, they are the most responsible to dismantle it.
Guilty-white-person: I don’t say the n-word, so I don’t benefit from systemic racism.
Reality says: Individual opinion and systemic advantage are different: if you and other white people fought as hard to dismantle systemic violence as you do to deny that you have a responsibility as a white person, systemic racism would collapse tomorrow.
Reality says: White lives are valued more than other lives–ideally all lives should matter the same, unfortunately basic statistics we’ve discussed prove this is not the case. You wouldn’t say fuck cancer because everyone is healthy during a cancer campaign.
Guilty-white-person: I didn’t do anything wrong, because I haven’t been talking about race.
Reality says: That’s the whole problem: white North Americans are exploited to stay oblivious on race and systemic violence in order to keep them consuming products they may otherwise not purchase if they knew the cost. Politicians have no interest in white people asking who is paying for their advantages because they might find out and choose to replace the political elite.
An informed white population is too much accountability, and your inaction, exploited or deliberate, always sides with the oppressor.
Guilty-white-person: Calling me out for supporting violence is racist: it’s exactly what you’re fighting against.
Reality says: Prejudice and racism are different things–has your whiteness ever been the reason you did not get something, or lived somewhere, or that you got a worse jail sentence? Because whiteness is always an advantage, it’s impossible to be racist against white people–you can have prejudice against white people, and hurt their feelings, and that is different than systemic racism, which destroys millions of bodies for the privilege of others.
Guilty-white-person: But I don’t have a race. White people just came to North America as individuals.
Reality says: White supremacy wouldn’t work if you and white people acknowledged the group benefits of their race. This is achieved by saying white people do not have a race, and that if they do it hasn’t worked against other cultures to assimilate and commit genocide. Whiteness is centered as ‘heroic’ or ‘normal’ in popular film, music, and news media, helping to tell white people that everything they are doing is okay, and at nobody’s expense.
White people are always told to be individuals, and people of colour always a group or series of groups. When their advantage comes up, they are told to call it too politically sensitive and to make jokes to alleviate the discomfort that their looming accountability has inspired. White killers are ‘deranged individuals’, black killers are ‘thugs’, brown killers are ‘terrorists’.
Guilty-white-person: FUCK YOU I’M NOT A BAD PERSON LIKE A RACIST SHERIFF IN SELMA
Reality says: A call for accountability is not to call people malicious–remember the white people being exploited by companies and government institutions to stay complicit, right?
Guilty-white-person: I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW STUPID YOU ARE. RACE DOESN’T MATTER IT ONLY DOES IF YOU TALK ABOUT IT. I AM NOT A RACIST I HAVE A BLACK FRIEND.
Reality says: …
Guilty-white-person: YOU ARE RACIST FOR TALKING ABOUT RACE YOU PIECE OF SHIT.
Reality says: Race does matter in North America, unfortunately. As the EJI states, “An ideology of white supremacy–a narrative of racial difference–was created to rationalize and justify the continuation of slavery.”
It makes sense you feel angry because you’re guilty, and let’s move past the guilt to dismantling the violence, instead of trying to deny it.
Guilty-white-person: Because I don’t feel oppressed, nobody can be oppressed. I don’t see colour.
Reality says: It makes sense we judge the world based on our experience. Recognize our individual experiences cannot represent others. Especially problematic when we have not asked about their experience. Colonialism did this pretty well. The logic is flawed.
Guilty-white-person: LA LA LA LA
Reality says: I’m saying that white supremacy hopes that you won’t question the logic, and accept to embarrass yourself for their political views. Once you realize this, you are accountable.
Guilty-white-person: I’ve traveled to Ethiopia.
Reality says: Choosing to continue colonialism abroad is unrelated to your inability to be accountable at home.
Guilty-white-person: Sometimes, in groups of black kids, I feel there’s prejudice against me.
Reality says: The difference between prejudice and systemic racism is that prejudice against you for your whiteness will never affect your ability to get a loan. It will never be the reason why you are not given an apartment or approved to buy a home. Your whiteness will never be the reason why you are frisked, arrested, beaten, or murdered by police. Your whiteness will never prolong your sentencing. It will never negatively affect your ability to gain access to colleges, and it will never be the reason you are not hired at a job.
Get past your guilt and step up to bringing justice rather than saying it is too much work because you don’t want to give up your edge.
Guilty-white-person: YOU’RE SO MEAN I HOPE YOU DIE I’M NOT RICH AND I’M WHITE SO MY WHITENESS HAS NEVER HELPED ME EVER
Reality says: Whiteness has always been an advantage, and does not mean you will wake up rich. Institutionalized racism in Canada and the United States relies on white inaction, and you have a responsibility to question your advantage with a view for the justice of those paying for it. White inaction is part of the violence.
Guilty-white-person: EVERYTHING IS FINE BECAUSE I NEVER HEAR MY BLACK COWORKER COMPLAIN
Reality says: Have you asked?
Guilty-white-person: Have you heard the joke about the racist giraffe?
Reality says: Failing to act by joking it off to feel less uncomfortable only allows this violence to continue. Your inaction and consumption of media that dehumanizes people of colour allows genocides to continue. Focusing on your intention before, and whether you make jokes after, avoids your accountability as the glue of systemic violence.
Choosing to avoid your accountability also sends a signal to those who have exploited the ignorance of white people to benefit systemic racism: you were right.
word by Liam Lachance
“I am white and I have felt guilty and I have been defensive when called out and I am not special. My luck was being surrounded with intelligent people, and in reading the critical work from people of colour, in particular Patricia Hill-Collins, James Baldwin, and Angela Davis, as well as Son of Baldwin, Kim Katrin Milan, colorlines, and black Twitter.
The point of this article is to state that institutionalized racism is handed down to benefit white people and that they are accountable to dismantle it because people are pay their lives for these advantages.
The goal of this writing is to say to the white individual first you are probably not a malicious person and did not invent white supremacy and to move past this obsession with white guilt to address the urgent situation at hand.
As a white person I feel that too much time is spent focusing on trying to exempt ourselves from responsibility through anger or jokes than to accept that being born into a slanted system where our advantages come at costs to others bodies whether or not we think we have racist opinions.
It should be also mentioned that mental space and ability is required to make these deliberate changes, and for this reason not all white people should be required to make the changes with the same intensity or on the same time schedule because of our differences in mental state and ability.
Like poet Scott Woods said on white advantages, “It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe.”
colour by Andre Barnwell
Andre Barnwell was born July 7th, 1984 and raised in Toronto but currently resides in Vancouver. Ever since moving out west in 2013, Andre has been inspired by the city’s art community and motivated by the accessibility to the tools he needs to pursue his artistic passion and desires. Graduated as an animator from Ontario’s Sheridan College he was exposed to various styles and media to create art even though he prefers to use digital as a means to an artistic end. Fascinated by the human face, most of work is portrait based ranging in different colour schemes, particularly his blue and red monochromatic digital studies.
Outside of portrait work and digital sketches, he enjoys music, film, travelling, and building his brand, Sex N Sandwiches. He looks forward to collaborating with artists such as sculptors, photographers and musicians for future projects. With the world getting smaller with the help of technology, he implores artists and art lovers to follow his growth via social networks and eventually to international stages.
Keep it growing!
The author’s words do not necessarily represent the views of the artist.