Monday, March 3, 2014

Racism Hurts Everyone: Costs to White People

Editors, Wisdom Quarterly; United Church of Christ Massachusetts Conference (
We're just kids. Are you raising us racist without even realizing what you're doing?
"Stop racism!" (
Part of being committed to eliminating racism is continuing to grow in our understanding of the horrible effects of racism on people of color today. While there is no comparison with the effects on people of color, white people are also dehumanized and burdened by racism. 

So it is valuable to also grow in our understanding of this part of the system of racism that affects us all. For instance, white people often:

Oh, to be the black sheep of the group! Or white in a group of colored sheep!!
I can overcome inequality and guilt?
• Experience a sense of being cut off from people of color -- of not belonging with, or being welcomed by, people of color (who, after all, are a majority of the world’s population).
• Hold stereotypes and prejudices or have negative thoughts about people of color or unintentionally give off an air of entitlement or superiority.
• Are deeply pained by learning about historical/contemporary suffering and racist inequities experienced by people of color.
• Feel powerless to create a just society in the face of racism.
• Feel guilty about the history of racism and current racist institutions.
• Fear making mistakes and being seen as racist or prejudiced.
Beloved Buddhist Saint Sivali
• Have our integrity eroded and our sense of goodness and self-worth undermined by our failures to stand up against racism we observe.
• Experience unjustified fears of people of color.
• Are separated from people of color who are working-class and poor, who are our natural allies, with whom we could join forces to bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth that would benefit us all.
• Experience unfounded fears of what people of color may do to white people, when and if they ever get the chance, exactly what whites did to people of color -- exacting revenge or retribution for past and ongoing racism.
• Miss out on the benefits of deep human relationships with people of other “races” and cultures, and all that can be learned and enjoyed in such relationships.
• Are unconscious of "white privilege" or subtle biases.
• Are separated from other white people by feelings about race... What would you add to the list?

A better kind of arms race
The position of supremacy is inherently dehumanizing to individuals in the dominant group in addition to the terrible and more obvious costs to any subordinated group.
Our full humanity can only be realized in full community with other human beings -- in situations of reciprocity, equity, fairness, and mutuality... More

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