“All white people are racist.”

That doesn’t leave much room for exceptions or differences in regions or cultures or national boundaries, does it?

So…does that mean that since I’m white, no matter what I do, I can never be not racist? Am I thus forever beyond redemption because of the color of my skin?

And is the racism of whites due to “white culture” (or “white American culture”), or is it due to the lack of melanin in our skin?

And what about biracial people like my youngest son? Since he’s half white, does that mean he’s automatically racist too? Or does the presence of more melanin in his skin mean that he might not be racist, or that he’s just “half racist”?

Yes, you’re pissed, perhaps even while you’re reading this. I get that. No rational person with a clue about history would fail to point an accusatory finger at whites for what we have done to all other races over the past 500 years. Before that, it was Asians who were on top, both economically and militarily, and whites and Africans were normally seen as lesser beings. Frankly, if you want to see even stronger racism on a day-to-day basis, go to Asia. Racism in Asia is much stronger, accepted, and endemic than it is here. I remember the sign I saw outside a bar in Pattaya, Thailand: “No blacks or Arabs allowed”. And then there’s what China’s doing to the Uighurs today, sending them to what they’re calling “reeducation camps” to “cure” them of their belief in Islam.

But I digress. None of this can possibly excuse whites for what we’ve done…and for what so many of us continue to do.

That being said, if all racists are bad, and if (as you say) all whites are racist, then that requires that all whites are bad people.

I don’t think that’s what you meant (maybe you did, but I don’t think so), but phrasing it as you did presents a problem not just for whites, but for blacks, too. Why? Because most people see racism as a bad thing, an undesirable trait…and if you say that all whites are racist, then most whites would see that as condemning an entire race as being bad people just because they’re white. YES, you’re just rubbing our noses in it, and giving us a dose of our own medicine…

…but what do you want to happen? Do you want racism to be diminished, or do you want the gulf of racism that divides us to widen even further? And do your words serve to diminish the racism, or to make it worse? If someone has reason to think that you’re calling them bad just because of the color of their skin, will that person listen more to you? Or less? Or will they choose to simply ignore you, or worse? By the experiences that any American of African descent would have, you must know the answer to that better than I possibly could.

Yes, you know more about the experience of racism than almost any white person can…but there’s much more to the story of racism in this world than just the American experiences of slavery and Jim Crow and white supremacists and white privilege. America’s really only a small part of it.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

Lastly, to give you a better idea of who I am. I was raised racist by a racist family in the MS Delta, and you can read all about it in my first article on Medium, My Journey Out of Racism. I’ve spent much of my life since then wondering what the hell happened, how did racism become normal among most whites, and among American whites in particular.

Do you care about all that? Probably not. Judging by your other articles, you’re sick of ‘progressive’ white people’s navel-gazing and self-castigation and what you see as faux support for true equality…and I can’t say I blame you (and you might even refer to me as Exhibit A for #6 on your list of types of white progressives). You’re rightfully angry, furious at what you’ve seen all your life and continue to see today. If you’d allow it, I’d like to offer a different perspective that you may not have heard. You can listen to what I have to say, or you can tell me that you don’t want or need anything I could possibly say. And if you decide to tell me to f**k off, go to hell, whatever, hey - I’m a retired sailor, so I’m not going to take offense. All I can do is offer to a different perspective…but you can never be forced to listen to it, much less accept it.

Written by

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store