Tag Archives: white tears

White Guilt 101: No Sympathy for the (white) Devil

Here are two ways to break this down.

Tears, or what happens when those of us who are anti-racist witness racism:

Being disgusted by racism might mean our racial politics are in the right place, but the attitude that whites and racism are so offensive they can’t be dealt with means we cry about racism when it isn’t happening to us. We find it so unbearable that we shut down and retreat. We forget that whites defending racism, or practicing it, is normal–meaning we shouldn’t be shocked to the point of breakdown. Letting racist comments go, resisting education, or giving up on arguments about white supremacy because we’re too upset benefits whiteness. Whites expecting sympathy because they can’t deal with other whites completely ignores the fact that POC have to deal with that shit all the time. One tough conversation, one ugly (but fleeting) moment of awareness, shouldn’t hurt us. We have the social safety to cause a scene and not be in danger, we have the freedom to walk away and not be dehumanized in doing so, we have the privilege to move on and forget about it.

Emotions, or what happens inside us when we deal with the subject of racism:

If legacies of white supremacy cause us to feel bad for ourselves, we are co-opting pain from an experience that isn’t ours. Whites don’t experience racism, so we don’t feel the same pain a person of color feels; our emotions don’t matter when it comes to white supremacy because this pain is not about us. White privilege in this context is believing our hurt feelings take precedence over the subject at hand and feeling justified when the subject is derailed. Making an issue, or even a spectacle, of our pain makes it seem as if we suffer equally with POC because “it hurts all of us.” Consider these questions: Is hearing a white person use the N word the same as being called the N word? Is a rude comment about white Christians the same as demonizing the entire religion of Islam and the POC who practice it (Islamophobia)? Is dealing with a nasty friend or relative the same as dealing with histories and cultures of oppression? Is philosophical confrontation of personal whiteness the same as lived struggle against institutional racism? We might all “bleed red,” but a pin piercing a finger tip that draws blood is not the same as decapitation. Wounds are not created equally.

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