If We’re Truly Going to Eradicate Racism, Then We’ve Got to Take It Out of Ourselves First

I wish I’d seen this two and a half months ago when it came out…

Powerful, powerful statement from one of my favorite photographers, and more importantly, favorite photography instructors, Zack Arias:

I, as a white man, have been so insulated from the Black experience, that I… cannot really form any opinion that is anywhere near educated.

This will certainly resonate with many, many white people, at least those who are willing to be honest with themselves.

I understand — I was there too. I know the feelings that you’re having, alright. But I’m telling you that through all your hard work and through all your own personal pain and suffering and through all of the hurdles that you’ve had to like deal with in your life, if you’re white, the color of your skin is not one of those hurdles.

If you go back through generations and generations and generations of Black people in this country, simply being Black held them back. They couldn’t get a loan, their kids couldn’t go to the better schools, their kids couldn’t go to college, they couldn’t move to better neighborhoods, they were passed over for promotions at work, they weren’t allowed to vote, they suffered at the hands of white people — violence that you and I have never had to deal with.

We as white people have the luxury of learning about racism without having to live through racism, and if we’re truly going to eradicate racism, then we’ve got to take it out of ourselves first.

Yeah, Zack nails it here: this is the essential truth of “white privilege”. The simple fact of the matter is that for white people, the color of their skin is simply not an issue in American life, whereas for Black people and other people of color, it is an issue every single day of their lives in America.

This is what Peggy McIntosh calls “the invisible package of unearned benefits.”

It is time for us white people to listen to Black people. It is time for us white people to sit the fuck down, and listen. It is not a time for us to tell Black people about themselves, because we need to be told about ourselves right now. […]

I’ve learned that whenever I start to get defensive, I need to stop, say, “why am I getting defensive about that?”, and I need to sit back, and I need to shut up, and I need to listen.

Powerful, powerful stuff. Our nation needs more of this from white people right now, and franky, has needed more of this for a long, long time. What we need is for more white people to be willing to listen, and learn, and try to understand. Because when you start to understand, just a little bit, you can’t help but want to change not only yourself, but the world around you.

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