Reading Response #2

The Reading Whiteness is a racial construct. Its time to take it apart furthered my understanding that white identity is tied up in structural and systematic racism. Our identities are all very much shaped by race largely due to the years of grooming the European ego has received and the inequality suffered by black slaves and indigenous people of colonized countries. White people have grown to subconsciously expect the advantages of white privilege such as a lower chance of living in poverty, among many others. All these advantages make white people the control group, which as Denise Balkissoon points out is why where uncomfortable with the word “white”. She points out that these unearned benefits are where the uncomfortableness stems from, thus white privilege is largely avoided rather than dealt with. This only increases structural and systematic racism. Evidence of this racism is very evident on a day to day basis and becomes even more evident when brought to light. Examples of this can be seen in Canada’s whole political system which is built around powerful white people with few people of colour represented. Also In major corporations its always almost a given that CEO’s and powerful people at the top will be white. To educate society of white privilege and work towards removing it would be to forfeit the advantages of white privilege and loose the identity of being the control group, thus it stays. Even though as individuals most white people claim to be not racist with the exception of a few bad apples, as a society we very much are due to the unwillingness to address and remove white privilege. Not being racist as an individual does not make one innocent of our racist society, as all white people are actively reaping the benefits of it and contributing to its growth by not acknowledging it. This in turn proves that the “bad apples” we blame racism on are actually a small part of the problem when looking at the big picture of structural and systematic racism.

It should come as no surprise with white being the control group that whiteness is often connected to innocence in society. This innocence can be seen in evidence of the colour itself; with white being a symbol of virginity and pureness. The two concepts go very hand in hand with being equated to innocence. Whiteness can also be equated to innocence largely in court systems. A glance at prison populations shows those of colour are far more likely to face guilty verdicts, where as white people are far more likely to face not-guilty verdicts. This was the case between Gerald Stanley, a white farmer charged with the murder of a First Nation man named Colten Boushie. The case was highlighted in the media as a classic example of white privilege as Gerald Stanley was not charged with the murder despite conflicting evidence. As mentioned above white people often think of themselves as innocent when faced with dealing with the concept of racism, blaming racism on a few bad apples in society spoiling it for everyone. when in turn its actually a bad apple society as a whole, as most white people are unconsciously or consciously contributing to structural and systematic racism, making them guilty despite their beliefs. As mentioned in the article Robin DiAngelo defines white as a “construct of oppression”, which is a far cry from equating whiteness with innocence, but might be closer to the truth.

Often when having discussions or doing readings such as Whiteness is a racial construct. Its time to take it apart where white privilege as a normal narrative is disrupted I’m faced with feelings of discomfort. These feelings ranged from guilt, at realizing my own part in racism to anger at society’s blatant ignorance to it. Robin DiAngelo mentions in the Whiteness is a racial construct. Its time to take it apart article that conversations on white privilege “don’t necessarily get easier, but her audiences’ ability to listen, and to cope with unpleasantness, gradually improves.”. I found this quote to be in line with my own learning as at first it was and still is difficult to accept my part in structural and systematic racism but much of the guilt has slipped away as I realize that by learning about it I am help putting a stop to it, rather than living in ignorance.

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3 thoughts on “Reading Response #2

  1. I really enjoyed reading your response to whiteness. The quote you used in your last paragraph is something I can also relate to and something that reflects my own learning. I have felt guilty and uncomfortable while talking about structural and systematic racism, but it is getting easier to listen and to realize that by acknowledging it, no matter how uncomfortable, it is a step in the right direction. Thank you for your very powerful response!

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  2. Your response to whiteness was very intriguing to read. Talking about racism has always been a struggle for me, and always gives off an uncomfortable feeling. As a white person in society, the thought is a lot more difficult to elaborate on. Although by what we have learned it makes it easier to understand and acknowledge racism, leading us in the right direction. Thanks for your response!

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  3. hi Kennedy I agree with you even using the word White to describe a race seems like something you shouldn’t do. I do think that the more we learn and the more we can continue to educate other people on how white privilege does exist, and that even tho we might not participate in racism we are all guilty of feeling the benefits of having white skin. I’ve never thought about white being innocent and pure in the way you described it but its very true, even other races whiten their skin in a way to make them look more the standard of “beautiful” which makes it seem that the more white you are the better. I also agree completely with your view on white being more innocent and that someone of color will more likely be prosecuted in court for something based on theirs skin color. we can see examples of that even in Saskatchewan with the First Nations population being followed in stores thinking that they might shop lift compared to white people not being followed in stores. thanks for your views
    -Nikki

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