My First Attempt at Being White
EJ Terry
84

Yes, interesting to have that experience, and great that you’ve shared it with as wide an audience as possible, because it is important for all us ‘white folks’ to realize that white privilege is a real thing. “Whiteness” however, is not a real thing. That’s where your confusion and uncomfortableness come from here.

Like most of us, you’ve probably never read much of James Baldwin, who said of ‘white people”: “…And have brought humanity to the edge of /oblivion: because they think they are white.”

His essay “On Being White and Other Lies” lays out the outlines of the history of the idea that we are “white”, saying that it came about in the experience of those who came to America, and began to see themselves as “white” in contrast to the native Americans and African Americans… it was a revelatory reading for me, and I highly recommend it… as I do anything Baldwin wrote. He is a wonderful corrective for the lies and illusions we’ve grown up with here in North America.

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