When I talk about race and whiteness, people often say I must be a “self-hating white person” and that I shouldn’t let “white guilt” bring race into my life–or at the very least, into my conversations with them.
Here’s the thing:
If I get exposed to the flu, that’s not my fault. But once I notice the flu symptoms within me, it becomes my responsibility to wash my hands and sneeze carefully while doing anything else to avoid getting other people sick.
That’s not “flu guilt” or “self-hatred”. It’s simply being decent and considerate by taking responsibility for my impact on others.
Whiteness works the exact same way, with one important exception: One can fight off the flu and be done with it, whereas our society is CONSTANTLY exposed to toxic white supremacist concepts. We are constantly “catching” whiteness and having to battle it within our bodies and minds.
Maybe it’s not our fault, but its most definitely our responsibility. Once I have that bug in me, I have to do everything in my power not to pass it on.