When black folk say “Black Lives Matter,” they are in search of simple recognition. That they are decent human beings, that they aren’t likely to commit crimes, that they’re reasonably smart. That they’re no more evil than the next person, that they’re willing to work hard to get ahead, that they love their kids and want them to do better than they did. That they are loving and kind and compassionate. And that they should be treated with the same respect that the average, nondescript, unexceptional white male routinely receives without fanfare or the expectation of gratitude in return.
“Yes, you’re right. In our institutional structures, and in deep psychological structures, our underlying assumption is that our lives are worth more than yours.”
By overdramatizing the nature of your personal actions you sidestep complicity. By sidestepping complicity, you hold fast to innocence. By holding fast to innocence, you maintain power. The real question that must be asked of white innocence is whether or not it will give up the power of life and death over black lives. Whether or not it will give up the power to kill in exchange for brotherhood and sisterhood. If it does, it can at long last claim its American siblings and we can become a true family.
James Baldwin said it best when he wrote, “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” Both Baldwin and Kaepernick have offended you so greatly because they insisted on separating whiteness from American identity.
In the end, Trump is a nationalist, and Kaepernick is a patriot.
Beloved, your white innocence is a burden to you, a burden to the nation, a burden to our progress. It is time to let it go, to let it die in place of the black bodies that it wills into nonbeing. In its place should rise a curiosity, but even more, a genuine desire to know and understand just what it means to be black in America.
I also think about how Frankenstein is the name of the scientist and not the monster, but the monster soon came to be identified by his inventor’s name. “Whiteness,” in the same way, may be the true nigger. Stitching together a warped reflection of yourself, each piece a rejected part of your own body, the creation is made from you, not just by you—a despised version of all your imperfections.
We want what you want. We want to pursue our dreams without the hindrance of racism. We want to raise our children in safety and send them to good schools. We want our communities to overflow with opportunity and support. We want good jobs and health care. We want gorgeous parks and lovely homes. We want affordable markets and department stores nearby. And we don’t want to die at the hands of either the cops or other black folk.
Whites must understand that they benefit from white privilege in order to realize how white privilege creates the space for black oppression.”
‘repentance for white people as dying to whiteness.’ I want to say white Christians have been separated from God by the idolatry of whiteness. So we’re not in this to help somebody else. We’re in this for our own souls.” Wallis’ point underscores a vital need, my friends, the need to close the distance between the white self and the black other.
DeGioia announced plans to atone for the past. DeGioia said that day that he would offer a formal apology on behalf of the university, establish an institute to study slavery, and erect a public memorial to the slaves who labored to sustain Georgetown, including those men, women, and children—the youngest a two-month-old baby—whose sale in 1838 saved the school.