There is a meme going around about how “we’re all the same.”
It is invariably posted by a white friend who has a loving heart, means well, sincerely believes that “we’re all the same underneath,” and lives in a mostly white town.
What to do? It’s awkward to challenge someone, I’m pathologically averse to conflict, and I don’t want to start a fight. And yet . . . this meme is fundamentally inaccurate and represents a classic example of white fragility.
First, this frames racism as a bad personality trait of some bad individuals with bad ideas. Thus, if you “don’t care if someone is black, white, or purple,” then *presto* you’re not a racist.
But what if racism is defined differently, as a pervasive system of white advantage (see, even here, I’m afraid to say “white supremacy” because I don’t want friends to take umbrage). What if racism is more than a character flaw that is especially common in Alabama? And isn’t the option of defining racism in a way that excludes you and then putting race out of your mind the quintessential example of white privilege? You think African Americans ever get to not notice race?
Secondly, it’s factually inaccurate. A person who has experienced job discrimination, police harassment, being followed in a store on the assumption that they might steal, being assumed to be dumb, dishonest, or lazy, having people assume that they owe their position to affirmative action, rather than hard work — this person is most assuredly NOT the same inside as someone like me who has never had to deal with any of these awful stresses.
If a person is actually interested at all in race or racism, then a great place to start is the book White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo.
Let’s just say this – I can pretty much guarantee that when a white person says “I don’t see color,” “We are all the human race, that’s what matters,” or “I was raised to treat everyone the same,” that the people of color in the room are mentally rolling their eyes.
#race #racism #whitefragility