White Like Me

White Like Me explores the complexities of racism and clearly contextualises the definitions of what it means to be black and what it means to be white. Whiteness is seen as a privilege that is conspicuous to those who are not white but makes but a subtle difference for those who are white. It is with this privilege that distorts one’s perception of how severe and prevalent racism truly is in America. As shown in the video, clips of multiple white individuals were used to show that many white Americans, due to the lack of personal experience, emphasise that black and other minority individuals have the same freedom and opportunities for education, jobs, and overall growth that they have and that equality had already been achieved. In reality, African-Americans as well as other minorities continue to face struggles that are unique to the plight of those who are not white. This includes stigma that they are not as educated, as wealthy, or as “good” as those who are white as well as actual and alarming discrepancies in opportunities and quality of education, housing, crime arrests, poverty, and mortality and health issues.

The concept of ‘reverse racism’ and the question of “what about white people?” was also discussed through the voices of a few young white students. White individuals who were interviewed felt threatened by affirmative action and the desire for education institutions and workplaces to fill a certain racial quota. However, as shown through statistical data, for every one minority who benefits from this system, many other white individuals have benefited from the long-standing history of racism. Just as those who firmly believed that white and blacks were seen as equal, these people fail to see the reality of what it truly means to be a minority in America.

It is important to realise the kind of privilege one has if they are white and use this privilege to help fight alongside their minority counterparts for equality. This is not achieved by pretending to be colour-blind or believe that because one prominent member of the minority community made it to the top means that everyone of the racial group has the opportunity to the do the same but rather taking a stand and actively fight for the cause. However, it is interesting to this taken the wrong way. I recall a time my Caucasian friend was taking a highly activist centred class at their college that revolved around the idea of achieving equality for all genders, races, and sexualities. Despite this progressive thinking and good intentions, he was made to feel bad about being a straight white male. Educational institutions should not be emphasising “white guilt” but rather what we can do to progress towards a post-racial America because for him, while he agreed with the general premise of equality, he felt it was unfair he was being singled out for qualities out of his control.

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One thought on “White Like Me

  1. I liked your story about your friend who was made to feel guilty about being a straight white male. I agree that rather than further “white guilt” we should move toward sharing stories of white anti-racism activists. Tim Wise mentions this in the film as a catalyst for more anti racist ideals among the white majority in the United States.
    However, I will say that as we do this we must balance between not falling into making people feel “white guilt” while still acknowledging that people participate in racist thoughts and actions without realizing. I have had quite a few moments where white friends who I would consider progressive individuals, have said prejudiced things with no moment of realization. It was only until I explained that there was bias behind those words that they reflected and worked to lessen their internalized prejudice.

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