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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 17, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsInto Identity

Racism defines white identity

Let us start with the fact that race is a social construction made by humans for the process of distinction.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal,” while he himself was holding slaves. His verbal dissent of slavery does not make up for the fact that he owned slaves because he wasn’t prepared to risk all the benefits of whiteness or his financial and political security to improve the condition of the U.S. for all people.

The white U.S. identity would have nothing without the populations they are still standing upon. New York City was built by slaves. The South was fertilized with black and brown blood, sweat and tears.

The white identity is rooted in the oppression of others, as the identity exists through negation: You can only be white if you are no other racesee the onedrop rule.

Words like “civilized” and “rational” need their antithesis to make sense.

“Uncivilized” was once the native people of the Americas, even though they were symbiotic with the earth. They were brutally murdered by a racist band of civilized colonists that would later form the U.S.

“Irrational” is the student protests, the Black Lives Matter activists, the Black Panthers, marches, sit-ins and speeches, and “rational” is mass incarceration, the murder of the unarmed and young, and a police state and (in)justice system that does not consider all people “men.”

The police force is constantly compared to the Ku Klux Klan by activists. Scholars have pushed for the treatment of blacks in the U.S. to be recognized as genocide. The U.N. suggested the U.S. give reparations.

The white U.S. identity is taught to have pride synonymous with the country it stole. People who believe themselves to be white have yet to come to terms with the advantages they have gained because of who their ancestors raped, killed, enslaved, placed in concentration camps and worse.

Race does not start in the body. It starts in the mind. Racism in the U.S. started with colonial definitions of sophistication and civilization that were ethnocentric and bound to the white imperialism. It resulted in mass graves, serialization, pocketed poverty and the destruction of cultures. This means the issue of racism is the fault of the supremacist white identity and must be deconstructed within the white identity before progress can be made.

As long as (white) people are comfortable with the status quo, I will always feel less than human, and that is unforgivable.