As a White person…

What kind of way is that to start a sentence?!?  I’ve been guilty of it myself on occasion, but as I write this, I’m sitting here thinking about how ridiculous it is.

I’ve met and read many people that weren’t White who actually resented the fact that so many White people would expect them to speak on behalf of their entire race.  As if somehow all people of a particular race think alike and therefore you can just ask anyone a how they feel about the confederate flag or Trump or whatever and you expect that person to be answering based on a shared opinion that they all agreed to at some annual convention.

So, I’m left wondering what it is about White people that compels us to start a sentence out with, “As a White person…”?  Are we so self-absorbed that we actually believe we CAN speak for all White people?  I mean, most of the time I see it written fairly passively, perhaps to offer additional perspective on a topic, but still… It’s not as if we’re really speaking as a collective.

Most of the time, I see this written as another form of the the “Not all White people” argument.  In other words, the reader understood the point of what they read, understood how the issue was primarily caused or enhanced by White people/privilege/racism and felt the need to point out that some of us think and act differently.  Ok, but you have to ask yourself, does telling people how you think, “as a White person”, change the current situation?  If not, it only serves an an attempt to dilute the power of the original point being made by trying to point out that, “It’s not quite as bad as the writer made it out to be because not everyone thinks like that.”  In any event, I’m quite certain the person making the point knows that there’s exceptions to their point and that their point may be more nuanced than presented.   They probably don’t need someone trying to dial back their point by offering an alternative White person perspective.

As a White person, I’m going to try and be better about this.  I only wish I was writing on behalf of all of us.


About Open Minded Observer

Smart enough to know I don't know anything but naive enough to think I can learn.
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2 Responses to As a White person…

  1. Afrofem says:

    Writing on your own behalf is burden enough.

    At least you are on that journey from uncritical comfort to empathy and discernment. It begins with awareness and ends differently for everyone.


    • “It begins with awareness…”
      Ain’t that the truth! I’ve always though of myself as empathetic, but there’ve been times I knowingly chose denial. As I mature, I do that much less often. Accepting that I’m not above biases was definitely a significant moment though. It’s one thing to see racism, be bothered by the prevalence of it in your everyday life and even discourage it in family and friends. It’s an entirely different thing to recognize similar biases in yourself.


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