Keeping Honest Conversation Around What it Means to be “White”

By no means do I feel I have any new or insightful contributions around the cultural shift towards “being White”. I know that I am Caucasian; I know this has brought with it racial privilege; and I also know that it in recognizing privilege and racism, I have failed to really grasp what it means then to be White in a positive way.

Dr. Ali Michael has written one of the most coherent pieces from a White perspective surrounding the Rachel Dolezal incident. I found her essay enlightening and heartening both. Please take the time to read the entire essay so you can hear her perspective & insight.

Rachel Dolezal Syndrome

“Traditionally one can identify as a colorblind White person, a racist White person or an ignorant White person: those are the three ways White people get talked about as White. If those are the options, who would choose to identify as White? And so White people identify as “normal” and “Irish” and “just American” and do not self-identify racially. And that leaves us with a society in which only people of color have a race, where only people of color seem to be responsible for racialized problems. It makes it hard for all of us to know and tell our racial stories—because White people think we don’t have any. And it makes it hard for us to own our history, because we don’t see it as ours.” -Dr. Ali Michael, 2015

It’s difficult to own our history when we don’t know our histories. It’s even more difficult to embrace an identity when we believe we don’t have one, and the ones we have inherited seem not to pave a way for any kind of harmonious future. I’m not sure if I’ve ever so over-identified with a different ethnic group as to believe I was truly a biological descendent of it. But I have wondered at how White people are going to move forward into something new. “Colorblind”, “racist”, or “ignorant”, while certainly true in our time, are not identities I want for myself or my descendants for the future.

Where do we go from here?

Forward.

Always forward.

HOW do we go from here?

Together. We go together.

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