Racism hurts white folks too

Hello friends,

The majority of my work focuses on how people from dominant groups oppress others and benefit from systems of oppression and inequality.

But something that we don’t talk about enough is the cost of oppression for people in dominant groups.

I want to discuss some of the costs that white people experience within white supremacy.

To be clear, these costs are not comparable to what Black and brown folks endure. White supremacy costs us power, dignity, resources, and opportunities; it costs us our health and sometimes our lives. But without white folks acknowledging and healing from what they have lost in order to gain and hold social, political, and financial power, we won’t end white supremacy.

There are psychological, emotional, and moral costs white folks pay. So many white folks have lost the wisdom and stories of their elders and don’t even realize it. Cultural heritage was traded to gain assimilation into the top rung of the American racial hierarchy.

White people are out here burning books and harassing school boards – not because they don’t want Black and brown children to read, but because they do not want white children to have an accurate understanding of their own cultures and the histories that link them to genocide and enslavement.

When we have lost culture, we have lost so much. Ask Black and Brown folks– we know what this feels like every day.

We lose what it means to be fully human.

White folks do not get to steal others’ humanity and not think that they are ultimately stealing their own.

White folks must learn and grapple with the full range of their people’s pasts; the good –art, food, music, tradition– and the ugly. Dominant groups must be able to hold the realities of the past and present to be able to help radically alter the future.

I think whiteness has given folks a distorted view of community and a distorted view of themselves.

If I do not know myself, I can not really know you. 

I think another thing we don’t talk about enough is the deep fear that a lot of white folks have that if things change, Black and brown people will treat them the way that white supremacy has always treated us. I think there’s a fear that we will deny them work opportunities, that we will deny them access to resources and specific spaces. I think for some people, there is a deep fear of their own physical well-being and safety.

It has to be incredibly difficult to live this way, and the outcomes of this way of thinking are devastating for us all.

Whiteness is broken.

I did not say individual white people; we’re talking about the system of whiteness.

As a Black woman, I have no faith in the tool of whiteness– I do have faith in specific white folks to show up and do this work in meaningful ways.

I have no faith in it because whiteness can’t see its own humanity, so it will never see mine.

For white folks who want to explore this deeper, here are a few resources I suggest:

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