How Can I Cure My White Guilt? By Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond. Yep, this letter and reply really are in the New York Times, the global HQ of political correctness.
I’m riddled with shame. White shame. This isn’t helpful to me or to anyone, especially people of color. I feel like there is no “me” outside of my white/upper middle class/cisgender identity. I feel like my literal existence hurts people, like I’m always taking up space that should belong to someone else.
I consider myself an ally. I research proper etiquette, read writers of color, vote in a way that will not harm P.O.C. (and other vulnerable people). I engage in conversations about privilege with other white people. I take courses that will further educate me. I donated to Black Lives Matter. Yet I fear that nothing is enough. Part of my fear comes from the fact that privilege is invisible to itself. What if I’m doing or saying insensitive things without realizing it? …
I don’t talk about my feelings because it’s hard to justify doing so while people of color are dying due to systemic racism and making this conversation about me would be again centering whiteness. Yet bottling it up makes me feel an existential anger that I have a hard time channeling since I don’t know my place. Instead of harnessing my privilege for greater good, I’m curled up in a ball of shame. How can I be more than my heritage?
Steve Almond: Shame and anger are powerful emotions, Whitey. And yet your central struggle is around identity. You write that you don’t know your place. In fact, your letter describes your place as a kind of prison cell of privilege. What you really feel is trapped within an identity that marks you, inescapably, as an oppressor. …
We do live in a culture steeped in white supremacy and class bigotry, as well as patriarchal values. But the solution to this injustice isn’t to wallow in self-hatred. …
Cheryl Strayed: I think Steve’s onto something when he notes that your anxiety is acute now because the racial mix at your college is reflecting your privilege back to you, but I’ll go even further: My hunch is that you’re truly seeing it for the first time. You grew up in a neighborhood and attended schools where you were one of the relatively few whites. It’s possible your status as a situational racial minority gave you the illusion that you didn’t have much in the way of racial privilege. Now that you’re living in a community that, at 75 percent white, roughly mirrors that of the American population, you’re feeling the full force of what it means to be white in a white supremacist culture and it makes you feel uncomfortable because up until now, in some unconscious way, you’d exonerated yourself from it. You were the “good white person” because you grew up among people of color. Now you’re another white face in the crowd at your elite college, and ashamed of it.
Is this the future the PC mob are pushing us towards?