Thank you for this article!
I believe it is time to talk about unconscious/implicit bias as a form of willful ignorance. In legal circles, ‘willful ignorance’ is considered criminal behavior.
For many years, POC groups have been pointing out that white people collectively maintain their dominance NOT just by active racism but also by PASSIVE acceptance of the status quo. As a group, white people collectively avoid action because it creates a conflict for them: white people perceive what they ‘have’ as earned — also part of the myth of white supremacy, more Horatio Alger BS — while POC often see it as unfairly granted to white people.
White people still negotiate ‘merit’ as if it exists for them. Merit cannot be accurately applied to permanently privileged people — and white people, from a racial standpoint, and regardless of the constant distraction of ‘feminist’ and ‘economic’ issues — are PERMANENTLY AND CONSTANTLY privileged with whiteness. Collectively, they realize that admitting ‘merit’ cannot be applied accurately to privileged people also means asking who DID earn it, and this will rightfully lead to the reward to the actual performer. This is perceived by white people as ‘giving up’ because they refuse to see the privilege to begin with; POC’s often see this ‘giving up’ as ‘giving back,’ because the reward was not actually earned.
Fundamentally, collective whiteness operates to protect white people from admitting the truth to themselves because it would lead to economic restructuring of the US that would deplete their power. The fact that their economic advantage has murdered and damaged people for generations worldwide, to the present moment, is such an onerous reality that they seem unable to face this ugliness. Unfortunately, the eagerness with which white people collectively distort reality — often through denial and the deployment of this concept of ‘merit’ — is DONE AT THE EXPENSE OF POCs.
This collective lack of morality is a repugnance that most white people don’t want to face. This would be both disappointing — essentially revealing to themselves the face that many POC’s see — and would result in a depletion of their $$$ resources. Instead of negotiating this as an advantage for the entire human race in that it operates against the fascism of white supremacy, they CHOOSE to perceive it as depleting their resources, thus reinforcing the original goal of whtie supremacy: steal from a wide range of POC worldwide, and then distort this significantly so this worldwide disruption of basic human morality looks OK. The idea that this advantage exists for anybody else is patently absurd — BUT, it protects white people collectively from the true ugliness of the stance.
Their stance assumes an equality between whites and POC’s — and white people ease their load at the expense of reality AND the lives of POC. There is no equality between whites and POC’s: whites have an unearned advantage which runs roughshod over any definition of ‘merit.’
In order to pursue any sort of just or moral stance, white people will need to give back what has been stolen (they perceive this as ‘giving up,’ which is yet another distortion).
Truly anti-racist white people will have to deal with the conflict that comes from:
- Being privileged, and:
Do not defer to automated superiority
2.Admitting it on pragmatic terms that will allow others to matter, to be truly equal. That is, pushing against the tremendous force of white supremacy that constantly privileges them.
Most white people stop short after #1, and somehow delude, distort, and otherwise damage reality such that they defer to this notion of automated superiority, and they never get to #2: the point where they deal with the fundamental conflict. I believe true white anti-racists need to focus on the concept of merit and at the point at which the brain resorts to historical distortion in order to justify continued ‘ignorance.’
From a pragmatic standpoint, it is time to address the aspect of ‘ignorance’ which is used to delay progress. As the multi-talented Tommy Curry has said, we should no longer court this idea that white people are innocently ignorant, like ‘cherubs,’ because POC’s continue to deal with the ongoing damage.
Impact matters more than intent.