Understanding whiteness: The first step to ending racial discrimination

The Optimist Daily is first and foremost a platform dedicated to solutions and the people behind them. But this week it has become more blatant than ever that there is a problem in our country in dire need of a solution—and this time it is us who need to be the ones coming up with the solution.

While we are addressing everyone when we say “us”, this message is mainly addressed to our white readers—because for racial injustice to be eradicated, it will require white people to fight racism in every corner of society—day in, day out. As executive director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center Ibram X. Kendi insists, “There’s no such thing as being ‘not racist.’ We are either being racist or antiracist.”

It is beyond time to stop assuming the role of the unaware bystander and become a united front against racism, but for that to happen, white people everywhere must truly take the time to understand their whiteness and its history. Then, and only then, can we stamp out the incessant discrimination done against black people in America.

What do we mean by whiteness? To answer that, we would like to share with you a story published in TIME magazine by Savala Trepcynski, the Executive Director of the Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law. In her piece, Trepcynski delicately articulates the cultural, political, economic, and historic clues that are a part of whiteness.

It is a powerful read, one that can help us all as we gear up in the battle against racial injustice.

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