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.

John Sayles

Montpelier

(2) comments

cparton

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."



Martin Luther King, Jr.



I hope we can all stop categorizing ourselves and each other and treat each other as individuals, good or bad, and not a groups, tribes, or collectives.

Kirk

Hey John, I have a no joke for you. Just a couple of doors away from where I once worked, there was a 'white guy' tending a store. Once upon a night, some folks of 'color' decided they just wanted to kill someone 'for fun' as per their court testimony, the 'white guy' died, no joke. Here is another one for your feelings. When I was about 19 years old, I had a lay-over at the Washington International Airport, my hair was very curly almost 'afro-like', but I was a 'white boy' (still am). I was told by a Security person of 'color', "boy it looks like you got some of us in you". Was I offend like a little white snowflake, no. We shared laugh with as if we were new found friends and we both went on our merry ways. Folks like yourself are the problem, not the solution.

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