My recent post about how Unitarian congregations, including my own, once regularly put on blackface minstrel shows has generated a few questions and comments that I want to respond to in a more public way than a reply to a comment or a follow up email. This may be a lengthier reply than some expected, but I feel it’s all important to say.
These are the types of questions and comments I’ve received:
Are you white? If you are why would you be writing about a racist event? If you’re white how do you remove the white supremacist in you? Why must you (meaning me, Rev. Tony) always be so political? Is it really appropriate to apologize for the past, and the less enlightened behavior of other white people?
Yes, I am white. I enjoy all privileges that go with being white in our society. Before I continue. A bit about the term “white privilege.” White privilege is about the inherent advantages we have solely because we are white. It does not mean that any individual white life is without hardship, pain, or injustice. It does mean that whatever hardship, pain, or injustice you have faced in your white life would have in actuality been worse had you been Black and had the same experience. If it helps to do so, think of privilege as immunity. Being white in our society makes one immune to many things we will never have to feel or experience just because of our immunity. White people are immune to being denied housing due to the color of their skin. White people are immune to the problem of having to represent all white people in a classroom or workplace, team or group. This list goes on and on. One aspect of privilege is being able to ignore racial justice issues if they don’t impact you personally. This allows white people to label racial justice “political” and then claim no interest in politics. Choosing to be apolitical is the epitome of privilege. I do not talk about racial justice because it’s political. I talk about it because treating every human being with dignity and respect is the cornerstone of my Unitarian Universalist faith. I can not condone immunity to racial justice because the issues are political. Continue reading “Why a white guy writes about racism”