I avoided reading this for days because I thought it was just another piece trying to make the case for “reverse racism.” But I decided to skim over, sort of check it out, finally today. At first I bristled and bit my tongue, bracing for every point I knew I’d refute. Admittedly, as a White person with intersectional privilege, who often tries to educate my fellow White readers on concepts like White privilege (which we can’t understand outside of the framework of systemic racism here in America), I thought I had you figured out. But as I got deeper into this piece, I found myself on a journey full of stop signs and U-Turns.
Now, I may be very wrong, but I think I see what you did here (and quite cleverly, if my perception of what you intended is correct).
Your title and hook first draws in exactly the folks who need to read this. You then take responsibility up front, admitting your own complicity in this original sin of America — which is the part that bristles most Black people and White allies alike, because we know (and you know) you aren’t complicit in a system that oppresses your entire race. That you, as a Black person, may be biased, bigoted, or prejudiced against White people, but not “racist” against them. Not in a society for which there is no meaningful benefit — social, economic, or other — for being in the minority.
This single part of your writing is almost imperceptible, but yet, huge. A hugely effective tactic to ensure your readers stay with you rather than feel attacked and run away.
And that’s when I felt a shift. A curve. In your method of writing. I felt it. Because here’s the thing: You never once made a case for “reverse racism.” I went back and reread closely and I can’t find a single instance of where you admit White privilege does not exist in America.
In fact, you spelled out, point by point exactly what White privilege is, without ever having to use the phrase — a phrase that shuts down most White people on the spot. You start with the “smaller” points of race privilege, the very things that White privilege causes folks like me to not see in the first place, and you graduate quickly but efficiently all the way up to the biggest point: how systemic racism is embedded into the fabric of American society.
To be American is to be born into complicity. Complicity in a system that, by design, caters to White people in ways invisible to White people, and a system that does not put White and non-White people on a level starting plane. Regardless of one’s intentions. Regardless of one’s actions. Regardless of moral character, inherent goodness, or background.
Unfortunately, some readers don’t analyze, but instead, shut down at the point where words make them bristle. They don’t get past the discomfort because they don’t allow themselves to sit with the discomfort. Or the cognitive dissonance. It’s why all my written efforts to help my fellow race understand this invisible privilege that we have tends to fall on deaf ears, or rather, preaches to the choir.
You managed to draw in the audience who needed to read this — I hope — the audience who found themselves on a journey (albeit very different from mine & others) towards greater understanding and compassionate empathy, the kind that moves people from feeling to action. Even if they sought to read this piece because the title alone validated their confirmation bias. If that’s what you intended, then I say, well played and well done, my friend.