It was good to read the recent commentary recognizing the harm racism causes, and the idea that racist remarks by white people are sometimes meant as humor or not said with racist intent. I believe the author was white, because she shared having been called “whitey.” Well, I’m white, too, and I have a slightly different perspective on how us white people can be active antiracists.
People were first categorized as “white” and “other” (black, brown, yellow, red, etc.) in order to marginalize and oppress the “other.” Us white people have no reason to be frightened when we’re called “whitey.” But people of color are justifiably enraged and frightened by racist remarks, even ones made by white people without the specific intent to oppress, because racism still results in bodily harm to people of color, as it has for hundreds of years.
White people have never been denied basic rights, arrested, jailed, beaten or even killed just because our skin is white. Our bodily integrity is intact. The system has our back. So it’s up to us to change the system so it has everyone’s back. While as a white person I don’t feel personally responsible for every historical wrong done in the name of racism, I am responsible for changing the systems that arose directly out of that racist history, that allow people of color to be abused and to be unsafe in their bodies. Since white people started this mess, it’s up to us to change it. No joke.