The Whiteness Letters

The Benefits and Costs of Whiteness

Dear Friends and Family,

Last week, we had our second Dialogue Wednesday for White People and I must confess: I did not want to do it. 

But having the choice to deal with our Whiteness or not is a benefit of being White. Our skin color does not and will not function as:

A biological, ebony-colored tattoo that labels our bodies and our spirits as disposable to those who produce and consume racist ideas. –Betinna Love

Being White means, I never have to think about my skin color, my Whiteness. I never have to learn about, recognize or even name my race. I never have to consider what it means to live in a system of White Supremacy because that system was made for me and people who look like me. I can go where I want, live where I want, shop where I want, work where I want without ever having to change my name, my hair, my voice, my clothes, my language or my personality. I never have to worry about being touched, manhandled, handcuffed or shot, when I am pulled over for speeding, and, often, I don’t even have to worry about getting a ticket. 

Because of my White skin, I am alive.

If our country had not been founded on the idea that White-skinned people were superior to dark-skinned people, then:

  • Black people never would have been enslaved.

  • Black children never would have stolen from their mother’s arms.

  • Indigenous people never would have been forced off their lands.

  • Indigenous children never would have been taken from their families and forced into White-American boarding schools.

  • Japanese people never would have been locked up in White-American concentration camps.

  • Latinx people never would have been left to die in the desert or locked in White-American cages.

  • Latinx children never would have been taken from their mothers and fathers. 

And, that’s just a sampling of what a racist system founded on White superiority has, and continues to, cost Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. There is another—albeit different—cost to White people like me. 

I cannot love my neighbor as myself as long as I live in, benefit from, and deny our system of White Supremacy. I cannot enjoy my unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as long as darker-skinned people cannot and do not enjoy those same rights. I cannot be who I claim to be or want to be, as long as I turn a blind eye to our racist systems that cause pain, suffering, and, even, death to my friends and family with ebony-colored skin.

I’m on this journey to combat racist systems and be the person I want to be. I hope you will stay with me. 

Until next time, stay healthy, safe, and loved, most important, loved.

Love, Leslie