If You're White, Do You Ever Think About Being White?
By Rita Arens on February 19, 2013
BlogHer Original Post
Earlier today, BlogHer Contributing Editor Nordette Adams shared a video with me on Facebook. It was part of a series of videos that got together black women and white women and let them ask each other questions regarding race. I now want to watch the entire series. The video Nordette shared asked two questions: 1) Do white people think about white privilege? and 2) What are the barriers to black women and white women being friends?
Today, I'm going to focus on the first question. One of the editors of Madame Noire kicked off the conversation by saying, "As black women, we think about race -- and subsequently, white people -- often. Do white people think about race often?" (I'm paraphrasing.) Sitting at home with my coffee, I actually said "no" out loud. Professionally, I think about race as a concept pretty often, but I think what she meant by her question is do you personally think about being white often? And no, not at all, not really ever, because I don't have to. The only time I think about being white is when we are specifically discussing race, either for work or with my daughter, or when something comes up in the news that is race-related. And most of the time, I'm thinking about the other person's race, not mine.
And I'm sure, at some point in my life, I have said at least one of the things in Shit White Girls Say ... to Black Girls. Here's the creator, ChescaLeigh, on Anderson Cooper talking about her viral video.
Watch the second questioner at 5:30ish ... this white woman gets extremely upset because "it makes it sound like only white people are racist." The next commenter -- also white -- after that sounded like she was near crying about it. Both women seemed to feel defensive because the white people are getting attacked (which they really weren't, as Chesca points out several times). What struck me was the level of their upset and the fact that the very calm black women who commented later said she usually keeps her emotions to herself because she doesn't want to come off like an "angry black woman." I don't know about you, but I've never tempered my emotions because I don't want to be called an "angry white woman." (A hysterical female, maybe, but that's very different from an angry white woman.
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