(Author’s Note: All White people = All privileged Whites, racist White people, White Supremacist, apathetic Whites, Whites who lack empathy, docile Whites, sleeping Whites, disconnected Whites, fragile Whites, Whites with White tunnel vision, Whites who commit microaggressions, White people who expect everyone else to change while they remain comfortable, White liberals, progressive Whites, those non-White people who live and pass as such, and even woke Whites because no matter how much you think you know there is always more to learn about Whiteness)
I’m wondering why it takes White people so long to see racism. Like many other civil rights and social justice advocates fighting against racism and anti-Blackness before me, I can’t understand why it’s so difficult for White people to understand the impact of inequality, injustice, and racial discrimination.
It’s impossible for White people to be good global citizens when everything in the world is centered on them, their safety, and their comfort. The only thing that can open White minds and hearts are experiences. I don’t just mean casual or performative experiences. I’m talking about living like other people for an extended period, with no White comfort, no White refuge, no White financial security blankets, and no White justice.
I’m talking real-world experiences of being a minority and being oppressed.
These kinds of experiences could help White people identify real and perceived danger to others better, to see how their behavior and inaction harms others, and to better understand otherness. When you are at the top of the food chain for centuries by hook or by crook, it seems it’s hard for many White people to empathize with others. When you have never lived through what you’ve inflicted on others, you have no clue how others suffer. Walking a mile or half a lifetime in another man’s shoes can help.
Experiences White People Need To Have
White people, you need experiences. Life-changing experiences without the refuge and weightiness to help you understand better.
I want White people to experience living without power collectively, and see what it’s like to have Blacks and others strip your votes, strike their names from voter rolls for fifty to sixty years. I want you to have the experience of having congressional districts chopped up so your voices can’t be heard. Doing so would help them see how not having power works for them.
White people should experience racial segregation. I mean the kind of racial segregation that comes with racially inferior assumptions about Whiteness; the racial segregation where you have no choices in your lots in life; segregated schools with old; hand-me-down school books; dilapidated schools; mean, life-sucking Black and minority teachers teaching their White precious angels, and a hard life just because of the color of your skin. These experiences would help them understand how hard life is for the people they injure with their racism and national racialized power structures that favor Whiteness.
White people need to experience sitting on the other side of their fragility. See what it’s like when Blacks and other Perpetrators of Color blame White victims for the injuries the perps caused. White people need to experience what it’s like being the White victim expected to forgive their perpetrators repeatedly. The experience will help them stop telling victims of their oppression to get over it.
White people should experience Black realtors steering them into housing options based on anti-White biases and preferences for Black communities. Having this experience would help Whites to understand the subtle ways people control where some of us live based on our race and racist stereotypes. They need to understand how all White and other communities of color are created.
White people should experience Black domestic terrorism, full out assaults, being stalked in the streets, all of their little social clubs and groups busted up, and their churches/places of worship violated with no government intervention. These experiences need to happen for at least 100 years, 400 would be the max to get the full-effect of the actions. These experiences would teach White people what it feels like to be terrorized nationally with no justice or support. Sometimes, their own government will get in on the White bashing.
All White people should experience government sanctioned discrimination. All of it, for decades. Those experiences for a few generations would teach White people what discrimination feels like, what it looks, how it impacts everyone around them and hopefully would teach them how to stop doing it.
All White people need to have all the racist and biased policing their fragile hearts can’t stand. They need to see young White boys harassed and beaten. White men should have no peace walking around society, in stores, or in the streets, and they shouldn’t be able to drive without being stopped and harassed by police. These experiences would help them understand the need for state, local, and national policing overhauls.
All White people should have to experience being refugees seeking refuge in Black and Brown nations, and they need to experience what it’s like to not be wanted by any land/nation. They need to experience war at the hands of other nations fought here in America. They should experience what it’s like to be the beneficiary of charity and not the charitable workers. White people need to experience what it’s like to be a man without a state, and they should have to experience what it’s like to be told your homeland is a shithole nation. This is experience would hopefully teach White people what it’s like to rely on help, and how important second chances are. White people need to understand the value of the currency of Whiteness.
All White people should be forced to live in Black and Brown nations, in Black and Brown economically diverse communities, and be forced to be the bottom of the food chain wherever they live. These experiences will help them understand what it’s like to be in spaces, what it feels like to be the minority, and see how difficult it is to get out of their class into a new one.
All White people should be deprived of health care, experience racist care and neglect at the hands of Black and Brown doctors, and have their children die because White negligence. These experiences would teach them what it’s like to have pain and not be believed, to be sick and not be made well, and how to heal themselves. It would hopefully teach their children and next generation of family members how to care for people using their hearts. Maybe we could get rid of the White Supremacy in medicine.
All White people should have to experience people who know nothing and care nothing about them decide for them which are against their best interests. That’s what they do to other groups. The experiences would help Whites to understand what it’s like to be a part of a system, but have no say in it.
All White people should experience employment discrimination, borrow student loans and cannot pay them back, and be subject to racially targeted predatory lending. These experiences will teach White voters about the harms of capitalism and perhaps help them be more considerate when investing for retirement.
All White people should experience forced assimilation. They should be stripped of everything they’ve stolen from other cultures and forced to assimilate to the natives or very first people of the lands they live on. Forced assimilation should include speaking a new language, eating the way the natives do, using social, medicinal, and religious practices. Whites should be forced to rely on code switch for their survival, and they should have to teach it to their kids at an early age. All White people should have their homes taken away from them and be forced to live somewhere new unlike anything they’ve ever known or experienced.
Being forced to assimilate would teach them what people on every continent have experienced thanks to Whites subjugating Black and Brown people. It would teach them how difficult it to unlearn what they’ve been taught. They would experience having cultures they love so much taken away from them, and they’d experience what it’s like to have people tell them they aren’t trying hard enough to learn their new culture.
All White people should experience forced labor, wage theft, working in sweatshops, slavery or working as migrant workers. They should experience what it’s like to be forced to work for free, have their earned wages snatched at the last minute for made up infractions, and they should have to work in ungodly conditions day in and day out year round to make the worlds of other people go round. They should experience digging for diamonds in mines in 110 degree heat. Whites should experience all the harsh conditions other human beings have to endure so they can enjoy their name brand consumables, new homes, child care, sexual favors, etc. Doing so would teach them what slavery is like, they’d see where and how the things they love were created, and they would see firsthand how those things contribute to abuse and demise of other human beings.
All White people should experience their children being snatched from their homes and schools to be child-brides, organ donors, slaves, etc. Having these experiences would help them see what other Black and Brown parents’ experience globally trying to protect their young children from harm. All children are precious, not just White ones.
All White people should experience war fought on their home turf during their lifetimes. The experience of war, loss, theft, destruction and the rebuilding process would hopefully help them make better choices about harming other people using money, militaries, and weapons to control other human beings. No one should have to live that way. Maybe we could end our military industrial complex. Maybe America would stop electing short-sighted men who start wars for personal gain instead of personal protection.
Why White Experiencing Life Matters
White people should be required to live and feel the experiences of others to connect better. It’s so easy to say we’re more alike than we are different when you’re at the top of the food chain. It’s easy and costs nothing to say you understand when you don’t really care, when there is no harm to your home, and when you don’t really have to worry about being uncomfortable.
White people can’t possibly relate to the experiences Non-Whites, refugees, slaves, descendants of trauma inflicted at the hands of colonialism or Whiteness. They can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be ignored. And because White people have drawn invisible lines in an effort to separate themselves from their evils, it’s impossible for them to accept how power has corrupted them collectively, and how unexpectedly evil they can be when trying to maintain the status quo.
Sometimes it’s a matter of ignorance. They don’t know what it‘s like because they can’t know. Experiences add context. Experience dispels myths. Experiences can destroy doubts. White people, you need to experience the lives of others so you understand your choices going forward have global implications. Ignorance would no longer be the go to excuse.
While it is possible for some White people to be good allies without some of these types of experiences, White people could be better allies if they had them. Life long learning is a part of living, and too many White people think they know everything about the lives and plights of others with zero on-the-job experience or training. Life isn’t data, racist stereotypes from old racist White men and women, or biased history told in favor of Whiteness. Life is complicated because of racial constructs, so are our needs.
White people could be better global citizens if they could see and feel the suffering of otherness, hear and feel their rejections pains, and live for a season without the refuge of their Whiteness.
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