Essay on The Passive Racism of Whites

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The Passive Racism of Whites

In Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, Professor Beverly Daniel Tatum defines racism as “prejudice plus power.” This means that a person can only be racist if they benefit from a racist system. Therefore, the only people that would systematically benefit from racism are Whites. Tatum calls this “White privilege.”. Everyone can be prejudice, but only the dominant race can be racist. Although this is hard to hear, being a White college student I have always prided myself on a subsistence that is free from bigotry, I realize that Tatum is right.

Not only is racism restricted to Whites, but it is an integral part of the lives of most Whites. Tatum argues that “many Whites are
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I have such a strong desire to say the “right” thing and justify myself as someone who does not agree with most of our country’s institutions.

Tatum argues that “it is difficult to talk about what is essentially a flawed and problematic social construct without using language that is in itself problematic.”. The “language that is…problematic” comes in the form of euphemisms. The more words used to describe a certain social construct, the more likely there is an underlying problem that needs to be solved. The underlying problem is the tension between past actions, present guilt, and future expectations. White privilege is a truth, but along with being on the VIP list of most institutions in this country, Whites are also burdened with guilt. There needs to be some way that the problem of racism can be addressed without pointing fingers.

I think a way to circumvent the guilt is to speak of grander renovations, such as legislative or educational reforms. Perhaps then, the finger, which must be pointed in order for change to occur, will land on a larger problem with society, our institutions. Even though Tatum is blunt about Whites being the proprietors of racism, she does not exclude us from the fight for change, banishing us to sulk in our nostalgic guilt. In fact, we, the people with an “in” to our country’s many institutions, have a very large responsibility to become active in the fight against racism.

Tatum argues that the reason that Whites
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