Is it just me or do other white citezens feel as though they are getting the raw end of the deal when it comes to defining racism? We share ancestry of slave owners and white supremacist and we do not deny that those who enslaved African Americans and those who treated anyone of color as less-than-equal were criminals. However, we also share ancestry with those who embraced the abolishment of slavery and celebrated the Civil Rights Movement, yet it seems that we are unable to shake the burden of guilt for the acts of the criminals? How can society justify an atmosphere of no tolerance as it pertains to racism, whereas white people are presumed the offenders and not the offended? Aren’t white citizens vulnerable to discrimination too?
Allow me to preface this with some personal history before anyone jumps to criticism. I am as white as the baby powder you use on the babes behind; it is simply the color of skin the Lord chose for me. However, I married an African American man and have three beautiful Mulatto children. I love my children dearly and cherish their all around beauty. I was raised with no awareness of skin color. I recall a time in elementary school when I was offered candy from my Japanese and Chinese friends. As a young child the only difference I knew in these two friends was that they had candy that I couldn’t find where I lived. I was naïve and proudly so.
Heading off to college was where I first learned of diversity and how people of color felt towards other people of color, and especially towards those of us lacking color. I have to say I had some really warm encounters with people of color from many different races. I grew to love and desire being around the African American people of varying ages with whom I worked, because they knew how to celebrate life. I learned to let loose and just be myself around this group of wonderful people. Another handful of employees in this office were Philippino and they too took me under their wings. It was somewhat of a tug-o-war. The Black women wanted me around to tease me, and the Philoppinos pulled me away to provide shelter. But whether a pawn in this game or not, I enjoyed my friends and the diversity they brought to my college life.
Several years later though, I can’t help but see such bitterness in the interactions of the races. Maybe it is just overly publicized, but it seems to me that the African American youths are in constant disagreement with the Hispanic youths, or the Hispanic youths are at war with the Native American Indian population. With all of the friction abounding between these young groups, it still seems relatively clear to me that the concepts of racism and prejudiced are used to describe the White person acting discriminately towards another person of color. It also seems to me that people of color are quick to point the finger at the White individual for racist behavior, but brush off their own similar attitudes.
Many White people are afraid to participate in any conversations that may come off remotely discriminatory when amongst people of other races. They bite their tongues for fear that they will be labeled racist. For example, it seems perfectly acceptable for a person of color to speak negatively of the white person, the black person, the Latino, etc. Whether complaining or making a joke, this person isn’t considered racist. But heaven forbid if the tables are turned and it is the white person making a joke about someone of color.
The clauses in employment, housing and education laws are other areas where the discrimination laws seem to protect everyone but the white people. Although these laws are to protect everyone, they seem only relevant in the protection of people of color. Do employers of color give a second thought to what this means when considering the employment of white applicants? Are there any cases where these clauses are shown to protect white citizens? If so, they certainly are not publicized.
To further address my concerns, it is acceptable to form groups based on any other race but Caucasian, and seclude other members from it who do not share the race. But it is not acceptable or legal for that matter, for white groups to form, barring other races from participation. Look at the numerous organizations on the campus’s of our schools and Universities. There is the Black Student Union, The Latino Student Union, etc. But if a group of white individuals formed a group called the White Student Union, the members would be scrutinized for acting as a white supremacist cult and brought up on charges of discrimination.
My point is that in order for all people to accept all people, we must be able to get along and feel comfortable around each other. This means that the term discrimination must also encompass the mistreatment of white people by people of other races. Our society must change its entire perspective on racism to incorporate the masses.
I don’t want to feel guilty any longer for being white. I love people, straight up. Like anybody else, I have friends and I have those with whom I choose not to be around. Everyone, regardless of color, is my friend until they harm me or my family. I would like to receive the same courtesy from all members of society that I offer them. I would like to be comforted by the feeling that we are all truly equal. The past is the past. Now let us share in the celebration of our country’s diversity.