Imposter Syndrome and the White Race

This began as an investigation of why White Americans do not believe Black people when they share stories of racism. I started by listing the myths and racist characterizations White people had created about Black people, and the more I listed, the more I noticed a 1:1 pattern – every negative characteristic Whites accuse Blacks of inherently possessing is a cover for centuries of undeniable evidence of those very behaviors by Whites. Rather than admit to our crimes and weaknesses, we ascribe them all to the group on which we practice those actions, and, above all, label the pre-defined group as liars so that the truth of our own habits will never be exposed nor the lie of the stereotype we created questioned.undefinedThis began as an investigation of why White Americans do not believe Black people when they share stories of racism. I started by listing the myths and racist characterizations White people had created about Black people, and the more I listed, the more I noticed a 1:1 pattern – every negative characteristic Whites accuse Blacks of inherently possessing is a cover for centuries of undeniable evidence of those behaviors by Whites. Rather than admit to our crimes and weaknesses, we ascribe them all to the group on which we practice those actions, and, above all, label the pre-defined group as liars so that the truth of our own habits will never be exposed nor the lie of the stereotype we created questioned.

Upcoming, specific posts will match White lies with historical facts. If that’s all you’re looking for, follow Out of the White Nest and wait for the magic roll into that inbox, baby! But if you’re amenable, I’d first like to dig into a theory I’ve proposed. The White race, as it has chosen to define and identify itself, has a massive case of Imposter Syndrome. Rather than sit with and accept the reality of our historical crimes or – whoa! – work to amend their repercussions, we took all of our shameful tendencies and actions and pinned them onto what we defined as the Other (Black), and established a judicial system that would explicitly serve to hide the lie. None of this works if we don’t convince each other that peoples of African descent are natural-born liars: it is the foundational clay of the hideous sculpture we crafted of “the Negro” for public display.

Average White folks in the US passively held onto this belief of White innocence because White men in power actively worked to keep Black people from exposing White crimes. For decades after abolition, most Black people in this country did not have the right to file charges against Whites for any reason. They were de jure denied the right to report a White crime.

But what about after that? What kept us from believing that they were targeted by cops, despite the data? Abused by cops, despite the videos? Assuming that we care about this, why haven’t we believed them for the past 50+ years since the last Civil Rights Laws were passed? And the centuries before that? Because we bought into the lie that they are liars, freeloaders, cheats that would make things up? Or was it the lie that they were savages, criminally minded? Where did these lies come from, and why?

Why did it take George Floyd to wake people up? Because he was clearly helpless as we watched him die? Because we’d already watched everything there was to watch on TV? Because it happened in a diverse, gentrifying neighborhood in a predominantly and historically White city? Because White people were protesting? Because COVID-19 left us traumatized and isolated and vulnerable to feelings of humanity and interconnectedness?

Or because we’d have to admit to our own evil? I’m haunted by James Baldwin’s line,

What white people have to do is try and find out in their own hearts why it is necessary to have a ‘nigger’ in the first place, because I’m not a nigger. I’m a man. But if you think I’m a nigger, it means you need it.

I Am Not Your Negro

Do White people just hate themselves? Does the hatred intensify as the cohort is concentrated down to men, to heterosexuals, to able-bodied, cis-gendered, Christians? Is the most rewarded, wealthiest, most powerful group on the planet motivated by a self-perpetuating engine of self-loathing? Are they so frightened of their own inadequacy that they have to disable all others so that they seem superior by default? Because they see everyone else as competition instead of fellow travelers? Is the entire history of whiteness all a massive insecurity complex let loose on the world?

Coming: White Crimes become Black Defects: a limited series

2 thoughts on “Imposter Syndrome and the White Race

  1. Cherie Acierno

    Answer: yes. And patriarchy is another imposter syndrome. And Trump, the ultimate imposter syndrome guy, regales us every day labeling others with his own flaws. I’m not a puppet; you’re the puppet.

    Like

    1. Zoe

      Totally agree that he is a master at labelling others will his own crimes & flaws. Interesting. I wouldn’t have thought of trump as someone capable of having an imposter syndrome. As the least self-aware person on earth, I don’t think he questions or cares about his own legitimacy. On the other hand, I am attributing imposter syndrome to a lot of white males in power. I guess I’m assuming they’re more thoughtful than our current president? Or at the very least, have a subconscious that recognizes when something’s wrong?

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s