For white Men Who Call Themselves Individuals
If you called me a racially ambiguous, mixed race woman that looks Mexican in the summer, I’d say, “Yeah that’s about right.” I own my light skin beige privilege and how people see me in many different ways, it depends on who is looking. Yet why is it when I call a white man a white man, all hell breaks loose? It is as if I said he was the devil, when I was just pointing out skin color, which I think is obvious, isn’t it?
No. He’s an individual, he’s beyond race, he is not white.
Great. He gets to be an individual, the rest of us statistics as Greek tragedies litter the ground, police murders all across America, even here, in Alameda where I live.
Mario Gonzalez was asphyxiated by Alameda Police, pressed to the ground, knees on his back for five minutes until he suffocated. Someone called the police because they were threatened: his browness was too close to their property and he “was scaring my wife.” Mario was sitting in a public park.
If Mario was white, he would be alive today. If George Floyd was white, he would be alive today. If Breonna Taylor was white, she would be alive today. If Sandra Bland was white, she would be alive today. Sadly, the list goes on.
So, while you are busy protecting your whiteness from yourself, Brown and Black people are being murdered, snuffed out like they mean nothing.
The explosive reaction I receive from white men when I call them white men makes me pause: what is underneath it? Why is admitting whiteness a threat to their core? Is it because they have the privilege of not thinking about race, or reflecting on skin color? I hit a nerve the reaction is hot, turning into defensive blame and shame tactics: this I will call racial bypass.
Anyone can do it. Even people of color, it is a denial mindset about race and skin color privilege. It may be harder for people of color to dissociate from themselves, but I have encountered it. Racial bypass is rampant in so called spiritual communities where somehow enlightenment does not include racial consciousness.
Stay in the present.
And be sure not to notice your skin color in the morning.
On one level, I get it. We are all souls in bodies, whatever that body is. Yet bodies in America are not treated equal−we can’t escape our history it is being played out in the streets where access to public space is unequal and at times lethal: Black and Brown folks are vilified for existing. Nothing new. This country was founded on the ultimate gentrification and genocide of Native Americans, enslaving and commodifying Black bodies for profit. Property and profit. Profit and property. The American dream where property equals whiteness and police protect property at all costs.
It is not my work to figure out why your whiteness is so triggering for you. Why confronting race is like treading on thin ice− any misstep and you could be plunged into the depth of consciousness that you are so desperately trying to push away.
Copyright 2021 Alison Hart