There are a few more ways DiAngelo suggests in which whites experience race differently than other races. One has to do with White Solidarity, which she describes as “the unspoken agreement among whites to protect white advantage and not cause another white person to feel radical discomfort by confronting them whey they say or do something racially problematic.” A good example of this was given earlier when college students kept a journal. I admit my own guilt here. I have had to face the fact that by not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, I was supporting the spread of racism…and people were being hurt by my inaction.
Some talk about returning to the Good Old Days. For people of color, the old days were not so good. Consider the following: “246 years of brutal enslavement; the rape of black women for the pleasure of white men and to produce more enslaved workers; the selling off of black children, the attempted genocide of Indigenous people, Indian removal acts, and reservations; indentured servitude, lynching and mob violence; sharecropping; Chinese exclusion laws; Japanese American internment; bans on black jury service; bans on voting…and on and on. Some practices like redlining are still happening today. In other words, nostalgia for the “good old days” is a white luxury. I think of President’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” and think, “for whom?”
Under White Innocence DiAngelo talks about the experience of black and Latinx youth going before a judge where guilt is more often attributed to something internal to the person (more animalistic, less capacity for remorse). When white youth go before a judge, guilt is more often attributed to something external (upbringing). This corked me: “a 2016 study found that half of a sample of medical students and residents believe that blacks feel less pain.” 2016? Medical students? Shocking. During one of our trips to Guatemala one of our team members shocked us when she suggested that people of poor countries suffer less at the loss of their children because they lose so many and get used to it. This whole scenario makes me feel that some of the people in this country are living in a different century.
On whites living segregated lives, DiAngelo quotes James Baldwin and I would like to offer the whole quote here:
“I don’t know if white Christians hate Negroes or not, but I know that we have a Christian church that is white and a Christian church which is black. I know that the most segregated hour in American life is high noon on Sunday…I don’t know whether the labor unions and their bosses really hate me…but I know that I am not in their unions. I don’t know if the real estate lobby is against black people but I know that the real estate lobbyists keep me in the ghetto. I don’t know if the Board of Education hates Black people, but I know the textbooks they give my children to read and the schools that we have to go to. Now this is the evidence. You want me to make an act of faith risking…my life…on some idealism which you assure me exists in America which I have never seen.”
“Most of us would not choose to be socialized into racism and white supremacy,” says DiAngelo. “Unfortunately we didn’t have that choice.”
We now have the earning the tools to help make change. The first step is to grapple with the white racism that has shaped the way we act and think up until now.