White guilt

While driving back to the U.P. from a meeting in Lansing last week, I tuned into a radio station on which there was a discussion of replacement theory. During the discussion a commentator defended Tucker Carlson and Fox News from having any responsibility for the recent murder of Black Americans in Buffalo by a racist, white supremacist who was influenced by the awful lies and dangerous conspiracies often spun by Mr. Tucker on his Fox News white power propaganda program. The speaker chalked such allegations up to liberal white guilt. As a white, liberal, fella I want to say that I’m not familiar with the epidemic of liberal, caucasian guilt to which the speaker refers.

There is a world of difference between being aware of the fact that, as a white, straight, cisgender male in the United States, I am advantaged in ways that men and women of other skin tones, orientations, and backgrounds than my own are not. This fact is only deniable by the most willfully ignorant among us. I have never been subjected to the prejudices faced by non-white, non-male folks. These examples are so replete throughout our society that I do not feel the need to provide them here.

Do I, as a white dude, walk around feeling guilty about my very existence? Do I want to force or convince other white folks that they should be walking around feeling guilty? No, I do not. Do I want white folks to recognize that there are still many injustices, prejudices, and attitudes faced by non-white, non-straight, non-male people and work to make our society a more equal and more fair nation for all? Yes, I do. Simply walking around feeling depressed and guilty would do no one any good. Writing about and not tolerating intolerance whenever and wherever I can, might change some minds and might push back just a little against the vast tide of hatred we hear and see from some people and some groups–I’m looking at you GOP. It could not be more ironic that the “Party of Lincoln” has become the “Party of Trump and White Supremacy.” Again, one would have to be completely ignorant of reality to deny this as true. It’s not Democrats kissing up to white supremacy conclaves for political support.

Hatred must be resisted from all quarters at all times. Mere guilt accomplishes nothing. Awareness and acknowlegement of advantage is not guilt. Working toward making our society fair for all members is not a weakness or due to guilt, it is an action based on the belief that everyone deserves just treatment regardless of their race, gender, orientation, beliefs, or ethnic background. I feel a responsibility to do what I can to push back against intolerance and hatred. I feel this way not due to “white guilt,” but because it is the right thing to do.

2 thoughts on “White guilt”

  1. A Grateful Student

    Mr Steigerwald was my favorite English Teacher in high school at Cass Tech. He supported his students and supported them through their must vulnerable times. I remember his surprise pop quizzes at the top of the hour. If you were late to class you missed but had the option of coming after school and taking an essay quiz. I will say due to my frequent tardiness in his class, I was greatly prepared for essay writing in college. I remember Mr steigerwald would always encourage us to ask questions and to not just believe what was told to us by others whether it be by society, news or just within our environment. He is a very fond memory of my high school days and I am very appreciative of him.

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