Dear White Girl,
“I’m not racist but --”
You need to stop there. You and I are both racist. We are white. We benefit from a systematic structure of racism built on promoting and protecting whiteness.
We need to talk, white girl to white girl.
I’ve tried telling you countless of times behind closed doors when you make ignorant remarks. But, you just tell yourself, me and your friends that I am “too defensive of black and brown people.” So, maybe you will listen with an audience. I hope you do.
I call you out because I care. I correct your comments, saturated in an ignorance and lacking knowledge of people of color’s historical struggles and their struggles in the modern day, because I care about the black and brown people your comments affect. I care that your comments make them feel more uncomfortable in spaces they may have already felt uncomfortable or unwelcome in. I also care about you. Racism is a structure that is toxic for us too, but you don’t realize it. As white women, we are seen as something to protect while women of color are hyper-sexualized and hyper-villainized. Understand how racism can also be toxic for us, but don’t minimize the damage it creates in communities of color.
Don’t see it as us “using our privilege” to help. See it as dismantling harmful and oppressive systems instead.
You say I’m the face of the problem on DePauw’s campus because I post about it on social media to try and spread awareness. First off, all of us white people on campus are the face of this problem. Even if we didn’t write the words “All N*****s must die -KKK” on the bathroom stall, you and I have actively contributed to systems of domination that have allowed actions like that to go unchecked for years and even today.
Secondly, it isn’t the burden of students, staff and faculty of color on this campus to talk about these issues. It is yours and mine too. Use your social media platform to elevate the words from students of color. Use your words and actions to condemn these acts of violence.
I’m not here to have all the answers. I’m still learning. I’m here to keep not only you accountable, but to keep myself accountable. Far too many times, the burden of explaining racism and white privilege falls on marginalized communities
So, to all the white girls reading this: I hope this made you uncomfortable; this is personal. Racism is just as much our problem as it is the problem for students of color on this campus. Keep your friends accountable. Keep yourself accountable. Keep me accountable.
Us white people should be acknowledging our privilege in the spaces we enter (and the spaces we get the opportunity to leave, which not everyone has the privilege of). We should be learning, and putting ourselves in spaces of growth by not just being present in discussions on race and racism, but actively engaging in these conversations.
Show up, learn, speak up and act.
A Sense of Accountability From Your White Peer