Why Are You White
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re white. But have you ever stopped to think about why that is? No, I’m not talking about genetics or ancestry. I’m talking about the societal constructs that have perpetuated the idea of white supremacy and the privilege that comes with it.
First, let’s define what I mean by “white.” In the United States, the term “white” refers to those who are considered non-Hispanic and not of a racial minority. This classification is not based on any scientific fact, but rather a social construct created to further divide and oppress marginalized communities.
Now, let’s dive into why you are white.
The History of White Supremacy
White supremacy has a long and complicated history, but it can be traced back to the transatlantic slave trade and the colonization of various countries around the world. European powers, specifically the British, French, and Spanish, sought to expand their empires and exploit the resources of other countries. In order to justify their actions, they created the ideology of white superiority, claiming that they were bringing civilization and Christianity to “uncivilized” and “heathen” people.
This ideology was used to justify the exploitation and enslavement of millions of people from Africa and the Americas. White supremacy was also used to justify the colonization and exploitation of indigenous peoples around the world.
The legacy of white supremacy lives on today in the form of systemic racism and discrimination against people of color. It manifests in the unequal distribution of wealth, opportunities, and resources, as well as the criminalization and dehumanization of marginalized communities.
As a result of white supremacy, white people have been afforded privilege and opportunities that are not extended to people of color. This privilege can manifest in many ways, including:
- Access to quality education: White students are more likely to attend schools with better resources and teachers, which can lead to better academic outcomes.
- Employment opportunities: White people are more likely to be hired and promoted, even if they are less qualified than people of color.
- Health care: White people are more likely to have access to quality health care and insurance.
- Housing: White people are more likely to live in neighborhoods with better schools, amenities, and lower crime rates.
- Law enforcement: White people are less likely to be targeted by police and more likely to receive lenient treatment when they do come into contact with law enforcement.
These are just a few examples of the ways in which white privilege operates in society. It’s important to recognize that white privilege is not something that white people actively seek out or benefit from consciously. It’s a result of systemic racism and the perpetuation of white supremacy.
Challenging White Supremacy and White Privilege
So, what can be done to challenge white supremacy and white privilege? The first step is acknowledging that it exists and that it has a real impact on people’s lives. From there, here are a few things you can do:
- Educate yourself: There are many resources available on the history of white supremacy and the ways in which it affects society today. Reading books and articles, watching documentaries, and engaging in discussions with others can help deepen your understanding of these issues.
- Be an ally: If you’re white, it’s important to recognize that you have a role to play in challenging white supremacy and supporting marginalized communities. This can involve speaking out against racism, supporting organizations that work to dismantle systemic racism, and amplifying the voices of people of color.
- Examine your own biases: We all have unconscious biases that shape our perceptions and actions. By acknowledging and examining these biases, we can work to dismantle them and become more understanding and compassionate individuals.
- Use your privilege for good: If you have privilege, it’s important to use it to support marginalized communities. This can involve advocating for policies that benefit people of color, standing up for those who are being mistreated, and using your platform to amplify the voices of marginalized groups.
Understanding why you are white and the privilege that comes with it is an important step in challenging white supremacy and working towards a more just and equitable society. By acknowledging the ways in which white supremacy operates and taking steps to dismantle it, we can create a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.