White Guilt, White Confusion, White Irritation, White Shut Down
Spent some energy trying to make sense of the 'white guilt thing.'
Concluded 'white guilt' is the emotional confusion felt by white people who’ve been confronted with black pain, when that pain has been inflicted by racism in any form, including colonial imperialist history.
I'd also say, if we recognise what it is, and our white friends don't, then we can help them work through it with a few simple approaches.
1) you don't need to feel guilty for what your ancestors did. My ancestors weren't angels either and I feel no guilt. Wouldn't be guilty if I was you either.
2) We have, almost all of us internalised and practised some degree and some forms or racism as long as we live in a racist society. It's not the end of the world to admit it! Confession beats denial on this one! I admit it and I'm working on being more aware and being less racist. Reference Ibram X Kendi on this one.
3) Thanks to internalised racism, unconscious bias is real. How can we be partners in building a less racist world?
4) Oh, and I do understand. Your emotional confusion that you call 'white guilt' is actually a form of emotional trauma, a response to the knowledge that people who merely look very much like you, brutalised, traumatised and oppressed people of colour all over the world, using the idea of white supremacy as an excuse — and this isn’t ancient history either. Here's what will help reduce your trauma and make us both feel better: choose to be okay with facing, exploring and admitting to the history of white-perpetrated trauma, in the same way the world is honest about the German responsibility for the holocaust, or honest about what LGBTQ folks face at the hands of Abrahamic traditional cultures. To heal from trauma, we have to stop sweeping it under the carpet. You want us to leave the past in the past? But the wound festers partly because you don’t want to face up to it, to explore what was really done and the impact it had. And that’s why we don’t shut up about it. We both need to face the truth before we can begin to heal the trauma.
Thanks Bayo for your article, which allowed me this response. I've been meaning to get this off my chest for some time now!