…Because this is one classroom in your entire life. One speck of discomfort in an ocean that is your life of privilege. Because white supremacy dictates that your skin — and let’s not forget your maleness — will make things fundamentally easier for you than for a person (and especially a woman) of color. That feeling of being on the spot? Of being defined by the color of your skin? Of being blamed for things that other people of your color do, even if you have not done them yourself? That’s not a classroom for people of color. That’s life. There’s no walking out of class. There’s no transferring to a different professor. There is only more of the same, with the hope that dialogue, education, and activism will pull the collective ostrich head from the ground, bit by bit, until that structural racism that you don’t like talking about is eradicated.
Look, guys. I see why you’re uncomfortable. You have been taught your entire life that white is always right. Your formal education has revolved around the valorization of colonization, the championing of racist brutes, and the marginalization of people of color. You have grown up insulated from racism and discrimination and what those words truly mean. You have been trained to see your whiteness as the norm, the default, the center of the world: you think that Other people have a race, but you are just… you. Your whiteness has been an invisible tool that you have wielded your entire life, mostly without really realizing it, but now that people are criticizing the invisible tool, you are pissed, defensive, and maybe even afraid. I would say that’s normal. Everything you’ve been taught is being contradicted, so a little discomfort is expected.
“She was at once so resolute and so dreamy, so sensual and so intelligent. She also was intensely private. What she knew best was how it felt to be alone, unique, isolated. She was lacking in the sense of a solid communal life; What bound people together escaped her. What separated them was an object of wonder, delight and despair. She seemed as detached from herself as from everyone else.”—