A hard time to be a white person…and what to do about it

white person
Miss Texas 2017, Margana Wood, from her Instagram account

It’s a hard time to be a white person. Not hard as in we’re liable to get shot just for walking down the street—no, people of color definitely have us beat there. And not hard as in we’ll be ostracized—and maybe lose our jobs—if we express our opinion. Again, that’s much more likely to happen to a person of color (see Miss Texas as exhibit 1 and ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, exhibit 2.)

No, I think it’s a hard time to be a white person because there are a bunch of white people out there who make no sense at all. And to the rest of the world, I look just like them.

No! I want to shout, It wasn’t me! I’m not one of those white Baby Boomer women who voted for him! But there I am, guilty by association.

The Survey Says…

And so we come to the Reuters/Ipsos survey released a couple of weeks ago, in which our fellow citizens had a chance to say just what they think of white supremacy and white supremacists.

The good news: We don’t like ’em. Only 4% supported neo-Nazism; 8% supported “white nationalism.” Now, extrapolated across the whole country even 4% is a pretty huge number. But I’m gonna take comfort in it right now, because I need some comfort, okay?

Nearly 90% of our fellow citizens did us proud, agreeing that “all races should be treated equally.” But that’s a softball question, right? I mean, even the Nazis know what the politically correct answer is.

So the researchers, as good researchers do, asked the question again in slightly different forms: Do you agree or disagree with the statement “white people are currently under attack in this country.”

Who could look at what’s going on in the country—what went on in Charlottesville just weeks before they fielded the survey—who can look at this and say, “Yep. White people are definitely under attack in the United States.” Four out of ten people, that’s who. Okay, 39%—so just a shade under four in ten. But that’s a lot of damn people. A lot of damn people who are maybe just a few Fox “News” reports away from becoming neo-Nazis or white supremacists themselves.

Only 29% of my fellow white people disagreed with that statement. And while that’s nearly three in ten, it should be a no-brainer.

If you can get pulled over for a routine traffic stop and not worry that you’ll leave in handcuffs or a body bag, you’re a white person. If you’re a straight, cisgender white person, you haven’t got a clue about what it feels like to be “under attack” in your own country.

And if you’re a white person who understands this, you have a responsibility to speak up. Don’t make the black and brown people do all the work of dismantling racism—they didn’t create it. It’s our mess; we need to clean it up. Together.


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