When White People Suffer
What about me?
That is the question. It’s so integral to human thought and expression that it easily could qualify as our Animal Kingdom equivalent to arf, oink, and moo.
It’s also a question that, whether asked directly or implied, can curtail every meaningful discussion about race and racism. There will almost always be a White person in any room where the elephant that is racism isn’t being ignored who will bring the focus back to themselves. They’ll listen to Black people talking about their experiences dealing with systemic racism in a White world, fold their arms, and basically say (or think): What about me?
What about them?
They seem to want a shining gold star for setting the perfect example of how to be White. They think because they’re “colorblind,” racism and all its attendant menaces (cultural appropriation, White privilege) must be greatly exaggerated, especially since White people struggle, too. The “What about me?” White folks would never admit to being racist, yet when we talk or write about racism, they’re perfectly comfortable making it all about themselves.
Lately, “What about me?”-ism is multiplying exponentially right here on Medium, courtesy of White “writers” who are fed up with White people being the villains of systemic racism. They’d rather pretend it’s a figment of our imagination than be implicated in its messiness.
They don’t see color, so how dare we talk about racism without acknowledging that not all White people are racist? What about them? Their parents taught them not to judge people by the color of their skin, and they do the same with their children. So can Black people just shut the f--k up and stop being so damn divisive?
If only they were as concerned about fighting systemic racism as they are about defending their own honor as good, upstanding White people. They only care about racism when it reflects poorly on them. If the White people railing the loudest against the supposed pandemic of anti-Whiteness rallied against racism as hard as they rally against critical race theory, cultural appropriation, and cancel culture, the world would be a much different place. Critical race theory might even be a moot…