Black people have talked and written about being targeted for discipline and academically marginalized in school ever since schools were integrated; about racist hiring, pay, and promotion practices at work since since before the EEOC was created; on life-changing, soul-sucking, community-terrorizing police abuse for as long as there have been police. What has kept White people from believing them, despite data, videos, witnesses, lawsuits, journalism? Assuming that most White people are not explicitly, proudly racist – that most of us would actually like to live in peace and harmony in a diverse world – why do we tell ourselves that the half-century since the last Civil Rights laws were passed has been one of equity for people of color?
I think White people suffer from a massive case of Imposter Syndrome. We stole and tortured and murdered our way to the political and economic luxury suite and we know it. We are not inferior in any fundamental way because no race is, because there’s no such thing as race anyway, just climatologically adapted traits and lucky mutations classified into races according to skin color and phenotypical expressions by a bunch of, well, racists. But rather than accept that most of what we act as though we’ve earned was in fact stolen and initiating a true level playing field on which to prove ourselves, we tell ourselves that things aren’t that bad for Black people. They couldn’t be.
Which in turn means that inequity is their fault.
Perhaps we Whites fear not only the possibility that we are not superior, but we just can’t let go of the idea that race is real and think maybe we just flipped the facts. Maybe we are the inherently inferior ones, and the history of our brutality, our near-psycopathy as a race gives plenty of evidence to defend that position. (The absence of exceptionalism may be even scarier than inherent equality.)
We avoid looking in the mirror by holding onto one racist belief above all else: Black people are liars, or at least exaggerators, drama queens. All other racist beliefs are upheld by that one, because if we #Believe Black People, we have to confront the reality of our racist schools, businesses, nonprofits, government, policing, judicial system, housing, banks, economic system, arts, food, science, whatever I’m missing. And that’s … just … a lot, man.
This is a preview to a longer piece. I am publishing this to push myself on the latter, so stay tuned for a whole mess of racial myths and fact-checks.