Profiles: Understanding Whiteness

Profiles is an ongoing series, seeking to create spaces of affinity, where similarly identified folks have a space to talk about the perceptions, nuances and actualities of their identity.  

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WHITE LIKENESS

Within American society, historically and currently, economic, political and social power has been largely dominated by white individuals. As our country and world becomes more and more colorful, the experiences of white people are boldly modulating with time. This shift in white perception, fragility and racial competence has come by the way of our ever integrating society. We sat down with two young white men, who have spent a majority of their lives in radically diverse settings. A complete shift in power and influence has been made in the spaces they constantly inhabit. These two offer up their experiences as the perceived epitome of American privilege-- straight, white males. 

Owen O, 17

WHEN DID YOU FIRST COME TO UNDERSTAND YOU WERE WHITE? 

I was in the 7th grade, really fully understanding it. I joined the Roosevelt Youth Football team and that was the most diversity I had ever really seen. I had never really thought about race as much as I did, until I joined that football team. 

WHEN DID THE CONCEPT OF RACE ENTER YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS? 

My mom had always raised me and taught me things about race. She never really go too far in to it. I don't think she really knew how to tell me certain things or how the world works. But she taught me know so that if I was ever in a situation, I would not let race effect it. Just treat everyone the same way.  

HOW HAVE YOU AND YOUR FAMILY HAD CONVERSATIONS AROUND RACE? 

Say me and my black friends are in an altercation with the cops, even if I feel like I have to stand up for them, I cannot really do anything because that puts them in a worse position than me. Trying to stand up for them in a situation with police brutality, its not going to effect me or hurt me. So she [my mom] has told me things like that.

WHAT DOES BEING WHITE MEAN TO YOU? 

I don't know. I don't think being white means that much to me. If I identify with anything, like I'm still white, but I like to identify more with my culture, being Greek and being Irish. I identify with those more than anything. But I don't think being white is super important, like I have anything to prove. It is just a matter of living out my life and looking back and being happy with what I have done. Going back to the question, it is more about identifying with my culture instead of race. I feel like the racial element, brings in more of the white supremacy and inequality. 

HOW DO YOU SEE STEREOTYPES IMPACT WHITE PEOPLE? 

The whole thing with stereotypes has gotten really weird on social media. I don't get mad when people make fun of white people. But I get so mad, because I don't get what the point is.What do you get from this? In a country, where we are trying to progress for human equality this is setting us back, giving everyone a bad rep. Me personally, I am all about this country moving past, so don't make it even harder. 

 

Indiana C, 16

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WHITE? 

To me, being white is just the color of skin I was born with. The difference is that, being white makes me realize that I don't have to explain my self or what I'm doing in most circumstances. It doesn't mean I am more or less then anyone else. It's just the color Of skin I happen to live in. Spiritually we are all the same. I feel blessed by those around me no matter what color skin they live in . I see the beauty in all flowers of humanity.

 

HOW HAS BEING IN DIVERSE SETTING SHAPED YOUR PERSONALITY?

Growing up in an ethnically diverse setting allowed me to realize the similarity'sare much greater then the differences. I was able to grow up in the best possible situation where I saw the equality in my friends and my neighborhood. It shaped me in to a much more well devolved and up to speed and focused person. The family's of my friends are strong and loving like my own. Doesn't matter what culture or religion you are. It's always you're inner self that shows who you truly are. Growing up in diverse places takes the fear out of the world. It's something money can't buy.