By Matthew Delaney
White people should come out and admit they like being white. It’d make the world a much better place if they did.
If you’ve paid attention to the dialogue around “whiteness,” however, you’ll know that it’s problematic to have any positive feelings associated with this skin color.
Marc Lamont Hill’s interview with critical race theory opponent Christopher Rufo demonstrated just this. Rufo talked about how the theory casts anything “white” as negative, which can bleed into how society generally views white people.
So, Hill asked: “What is it you like about being white?”
Rufo should have responded to this question with the seriousness it deserved. “Genuinely liking country music is my favorite part” or “being able to put my kid on a leash with no shame.”
Instead, Rufo objected to the question’s “framework” of “whiteness” and “blackness” and so on.
His points were valid. Yet that apprehensive little hiccup lends itself to the idea that there is something negative about being white. It also argues that the left-wing outlook on race does touch a truthful nerve.
Should we feel bad about the advantages, or dare I say, privileges that come from being white? Should we apologize for the fact that not everyone has access to the life we do? What about how everything we do is somehow taken from another culture, often from one that we enslaved?
Going into lawyer mode when somebody asks what you like about yourself doesn’t convey innocence. Especially when white people are already stereotyped as insincere.
It supports the idea that you should feel guilty about the atrocities other white people committed. And you feel guilty because you think you’re somehow responsible for them.
People would immediately notice that premise’s unfairness if we swapped out “white” for any other race or ethnicity.
Do we associate being Asian with representing the communist regime that possibly released coronavirus on our world? Or being Latino with complicity in massive illegal drug trades? Or being Black with indiscriminate murder and crime simply due to their skin color?
Of course not, only simplistic and hateful people do that. We don’t generalize like that anymore because norms have changed.
It’s a testament to the Civil Rights movement’s success. Back then, Black Americans’ long fight for equal rights highlighted our nation’s brutal racism and hypocrisy. White people couldn’t escape how morally corrupt their nation was, and how ignorant or involved they were to its extent.
That’s a real mental shift. At its most basic level, white people realized how damaging it is to let skin tone dictate a person’s character. Legally, that was interpreted as the law shouldn’t judge by superficial traits.
Since then, the way the country has unofficially compensated for its history took many forms.
Desegregation, affirmative action, a two-term Black president and, yes, even acquitting O.J. Simpson are all symbols of that.
Somewhere along the line, however, people deemed that insufficient. Specifically, well-to-do white people running universities, media companies, and Hollywood studios. So, they started promoting a new gospel truth where they assumed being white meant you were racist.
A good example of this was when Kanye West said former president George W. Bush “doesn’t care about Black people.”
West made that jarring statement during a live telethon in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Showrunners and executives lost it over how it would ruin the show. That all changed when fellow white celebrities convinced showrunners that West’s comments were essential.
According to the Huffington Post, “”After West’s comments, [Harry] Connick [Jr.], along with country singers and couple Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, walked up to [telethon executive producer Rick] Kaplan and told him something the producer would never forget: that West’s comments wouldn’t ruin the show’s legacy but would ensure it had one — that West’s comments were important and correct.”
Despite the comments not being correct, HuffPost portrayed West’s ad-lib as fact. One source even said it was her first political memory.
Years later, as HuffPost reported, it was the main thing people took away from the telethon — even though West ranted about how the media is misrepresenting black hurricane victims right before he said the Bush part.
Witnessing a celebrity slander a president as racist, and then having that elevated to canon, instructed us that no one was immune from the charge. The “evidence” that all white people are racist only grew in size and consequence from there, as did its effect on peoples’ psyches.
White people would do anything to avoid the pain of being seen as a racist. I mean, they washed the feet of Black protesters and knelt to apologize for white privilege during the protests last summer. The anguish is so intense that Bush considered West’s comment the worst part of his presidency. And he sent people to war.
It goes beyond “white guilt,” because guilt is internally enforced. It’s really just a cattle prod to use because, as the thinking goes, it keeps white people’s racism at bay.
I’m not being hyperbolic. Check out this conversation between a Black professor and his friend.
Police pulled the friend over while driving around London, so he pulled the race card to get out of a ticket. When the professor asked him if it was wrong to accuse the cop of being racist, the friend disagreed.
“It’s not even about white or black, it’s about human nature, how people behave with unchecked power,” the friend said. “A less PC Britain would be ugly, and we’d be helpless to do anything about it. You want people to be able call you nigger without fear of ostracism? Dude, we can complain in private [about left-wing exaggeration of racism] but in public you need to remember the big picture.”
He’s right that it’s just human nature. White people ran a self-serving, racist system in this country for a long time. Having to eat dirt for that is expected. That changes though when it becomes an ideology that frames racism as a virus that only affects one kind of person.
This woke dynamic where white people believe they need to constantly disinfect themselves, and other races believe they need to generously enable that practice — or else — is the definition of codependent relationship.
Attitudes like those also helped Donald Trump become president. Shockingly, his lack of eloquence didn’t do much to combat these backward ideas.
But this paradigm lives off our participation. We recognize that ungenerously assuming racist intentions is toxic to social cohesion. And we recognize that liking how you look is not only uncontroversial, but healthy. It’s time to behave like it.
Guys like Rufo need to start pulling their weight, too.
It’s important to use their platform to stump against critical race theory. Though that intellectual fight only matters if it’s backed up by acting comfortable in their own skin — literally. Flinching when the race talk gets personal is what makes grifters like Hill think they’re on to something.
Subscribe to get early access to podcasts, events, and more!