The below introspection on whiteness has been said before—I just hope I can bring a different perspective from my unique position and that if just one person takes the time to read this and reflect, it will have been worth it.
From an extremely young age, I have been forced to unpack and analyze what it means to be white as a person of mixed ethnicities. With whiteness in general being a scary topic for so many people, it’s something I’ve had to sort through on my own.
Acknowledging my whiteness—in this racially divided world—would keep me awake at night and occupy every spare moment during the day. Even though I looked different and didn’t carry around the invisible knapsack, deep down, I was white, right?
Well, the more I looked at my own life, the more I realized how I outwardly appeared was not the issue. It didn’t matter if I was white or not, or if I hadn’t had a racist thought in my life, or if I was disgusted to the core by images of police brutality.
What mattered was how I was placed in a society that has exploited and brutalized Black and Indigenous people for hundreds of years.
Coming to terms with this was not easy. If you want to have a deeper understanding, you have to analyze every single one of your achievements and successes in your life and ask the question, “To what extent do I have this because of the exploitative system I benefit from?” The expensive education and degrees you have, the nice car you drive, the annual holiday you take, your lack of health impairments, the list goes on infinitely. You need to question whether these things were possible for you due to the exploitation of stolen lands and oppressed people.
At first, thinking about this will make you feel depressed. Do not be surprised if you are overcome by feelings similar to imposter syndrome as you question whether you deserve to be where you are. Your brain will actively try to reject these notions in order to justify your status quo. But it is only after you can come to terms with this truth that you can truly make the next step toward actually trying to fix the problem. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are or how appalled you are by overt racism. If you are reading this, you are most likely a benefactor of the current system, just like I am.
Don’t listen to anyone who says this is only an issue in the United States (and not other countries, like Australia, where I live.) This is a global problem affecting people of color in every single square meter of the world. Channel your anger, stay informed, send support when you can. What is happening in the United States will continue to be the test case for how Western Democracies will confront this problem in our lifetimes. If protesters do not succeed now, this whole movement might be set back decades.