Becoming a Less Ignorant White Person

I have said in the past I enjoy diversity and it is not the same as understanding diversity. Over the last year I became aware I was not aware enough of other cultures and people from those culture’s experiences in the United States. I believed everyone was treated equally and it isn’t true. I have privilege simply by being white and my experience in western culture is different. 

As I began to learn about other people’s experiences and cultures I started to see how I had unconscious judgements and prejudices which were keeping me in the ignorant white people circle. I went to a few new places where I was the only white person in the room and sat with the uncomfortableness I initially felt.

During a black history lesson I learned a lot of new things which I was not taught in school. While being with non-white people I’ve seen first hand how some white people treat people of other ethnicities. I was shocked and hurt by the mean things which were yelled at my friend and they said, “that is normal.” 

Is it normal for people to tell you you look like a terrorist? Is it normal for people to tell you to go back to your country when you were born in the U.S.? Is it normal for a police officer to harass you when you aren’y doing anything wrong? I was of course shocked at first. I went through a period where I was very sad about how western culture enables white supremacy. 

I’m not surprised anymore when I notice white people avoiding trying to pronounce difficult names which I am guilty of. I used to partake in jokes which would now make me quite upset. I don’t think it is okay for white people to be profiting off of Indian culture in the yoga community without giving credit to the culture it came from. 

I remember coming back from Mexico earlier this year and seeing all the different cultures represented in the customs line. It was beautiful to me to see a lot of diversity in the line. It was also new to understand all U.S. citizens are not treated equally. I have a small sliver of awareness around this topic now. I am not as ignorant as I was at the beginning of 2018. 

There is a long road ahead of me and ahead of us as American citizens. We are all colors, cultures, races, sexes and religions. If we ever want the world to unite so we can travel to other planets or share the resources we have we must learn about our differences and start to understand them. I cannot allow myself to have white fragility. Read more

White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.
— Robin DiAngelo

Becoming aware of my subconscious judgements or thoughts, changing my behavior and speaking on this topic is how I can be part of a shift towards equality. I’m very passionate about becoming a less ignorant white person and I know I have a lot more work to do and a long way to go. Will you go with me? 

If you aren’t white, thank you for the patience you have had towards me.