Are All White People Racist?

by trinie1000 on October 20, 2016 - 8:06pm

In today’s society, racism is a topic that is frequently discussed. We question what race means and what does it mean to be racist. According to one teacher giving a lecture at a high school in Oklahoma, being white means that you are racist. This teacher was giving a lecture at Norman North High School, a lecture with the goal to heal racial divides. Instead the teacher, who was not named in the article published on The Washington Post website, said that being white makes you racist in an article titled “ ‘To be white is to be racist, period,’ a high school teacher told his class”.

Obviously what first drew me into the article was the title itself. I could not imagine having a teacher who would say that to their students. Reading through the article, the teacher explains that he is racist even though he does not want to be, it is just the way white people have been wired. One student felt picked on because she is white, and felt it was unfair to judge all white people that same way. She went on to explain that half of her family is Hispanic and that she felt it was wrong to assume that just because she is white she is must be inherently prejudiced to other racial groups. 

This made me think of the past summer where we saw a lot of racial tension going on around the world, and a lot of it involved the police. Some officers were killed due to the assumption that all white cops are racist; this assumption was based on previously seen incidents of cops attacking the African-American community. This assumption put lots of people in danger and even cost some their lives. Making assumptions can be dangerous when it comes to a topic as important and meaningful as race. 

Later on in the article, an interesting concept is brought up, one that we have just studied in our course, implicit bias. It is the idea that we are reinforcing ideas about race through subtle actions, sometimes even unconscious ones. This is the idea I think the teacher was trying to target.  Before I continue I would like to state that I do not agree with the idea that all white people are inherently racist, but I do believe that some people may have a bias that they may not be aware of when it comes to race. It is hard to fix a problem if you are not aware of it. This is making it increasingly difficult to make people aware of their own actions, as they may not know that they are doing something wrong.

Reading the article myself was difficult, at first because I was getting frustrated that someone would say something like this when they are supposed to be helping high school students through healing racial tensions, then later because it made me wonder about who I am and what I believe about myself.  But the reality is everyone comes from different backgrounds and different environments and that has to be taken into consideration before making claims such as this.  You do not know whether this person has a family member that is part of a racial minority, you do not know just how aware they are of racial tensions that we are seeing on the news, and because of that we must not make assumptions that all people from a certain group are the same. We cannot move forward as a society unless we recognize each person’s differences and accept others for who they are, not who we think they are.

 

Works cited:

Wootson Jr., Cleve R. (2016, October 19). ‘To be white is to be racist, period,’ a high school teacher told his class. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com

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