#NotAllWhitePeople Have a Conscience

tacking the myth of white supremacy

Back in October 2015 I began to question at which point in life white people lose their conscience and what those around them can do to stop that process. I believe that all humans are born with some sense of human concern, compassion, or empathy. I believe that we all start with some form of “conscience” and somewhere along the line, white people — and people of color aspiring to whiteness as well — lose it.

White supremacy is a racial project taught from a young age, and all of us learn it. This is not just something that white people are subjected to, but all people. The only folks unaffected by this global narrative are those that have not been touched due to complete isolation from Western colonialism or thought. For the rest of us, for most of us, we are indoctrinated. Even in all Black areas we are still taught and practice the notion that people of European ancestry are better than all other racial and ethnic groups. This belief is expressed daily, through institutional racism, and through scientific racism.

Everything is tainted by the myth of white supremacy.

Some of us learn positive racial projects that work to fight the hegemonic narrative of white supremacy, like pro-Black thought. There is nuance, however. For example, pro-Black thought rooted in the white logic of colonialism and cisheteropatriarchy is not a positive racial project, but a negative racial project. To swap a white oppressor with a Black one is not Black liberation, it is white logic in a Black body.

This means that white people are indoctrinated into a system of hate that centers their whiteness and says it is superior to anything else, but particularly in the U.S. context: Blackness. In other words, white people are taught to hate Black people. Hate for an entire group of people is learned, not an inherent trait. Even if white people have “progressive” parents, the world around them still preaches the gospel of white supremacist with a renewed fervor in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election. In the process of learning this gospel, I think white people lose their conscience in order to be able to dehumanize and erase people of color. In order to gain access to the the club known as “whiteness,” Europeans had to give up their original culture in place of one whose hallmark is violent domination.

White people then have to fight to unlearn this racism, similar to how men have to unlearn our sexism and misogyny that is so embedded in our cisheteropatriarchal (meaning run by straight white men) society. This means that #NotAllWhitePeople is a misnomer. Or rather, we need to think about it in another way:

#NotAllWhitePeople hate Black people. That is not because they’re “good whites,” but because they actively worked to unlearn or resist the hate they were raised around.

#NotAllWhitePeople are practicing racists. Instead, they are racists who have been taught to recognize their racism. They are therefore working against their racist tendencies to stop it as inactive, recovering racists.

#NotAllWhitePeople are ignorant of their privilege, but only because because they have been taught to unlearn the privilege they were bestowed when they were born into this Black-and-brown-populated, white-dominated world

White people need to shift their focus from showing solidarity with safety pins, their fear of the word “racist,” and writing about “the fad of white supremacy.” White people need to get serious and recognize that while whiteness is ever-expanding, whiteness will not always protect them. Get to work.

This post has been updated from when it was originally published at anthoknees.wordpress.com on October 4, 2015. Keep me writing at cash.me/$anthoknees.

Anthony James Williams

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