Let’s Talk About Race Baby: The Rise of the Self Loathing White Person [1/4]

Each of these images is the "average" face of a particular ethnic group, except for the far right ones which are the "averaged" images of all the ethnic groups shown.

This is probably going to be the single most controversial topic I’m ever going to write about and it’s grown beyond just a single article but into a series of four articles.  I am writing these articles to deal with two pet frustrations of mine: the overly simplistic discourse we have in our culture about racism and the growing number of “self-loathing white people”.  I’ve wanted to bring up this topic many times before in the past but frankly I’ve been too scared of being burned at the stake for the hysteria people have for anything that remotely smacks of racism much less the controversy of suggesting that white people are developing an inferiority complex similar to one found in black Americans.  I am hoping people will appreciate that I’m bringing up this issue not to create a “poor white person” argument but rather to point out that our cultural unwillingness to engage in open discussions on this issue is creating its own demons.  The first article will talk about why it’s so hard to talk about race in our society and the rising phenomenon of the self-loathing white person.  The second article will discuss some misunderstandings of Western history both white and non-white people appear to have.  Then I’ll move onto examples of atrocities and racial violence from non-whites that people are too scared to share for fear of being called racist.  Finally in the last article I will discuss whether or not the West owes the world an apology.

How to scare a white person: call them a racist

It is almost impossible to have a serious conversation about race these days.  Indeed, I cannot think of a term I am more afraid of being called than the dreaded ‘R’ word.  The other problem is Godwin’s Law, which I fear will be invoked inappropriately many times during discussions of this article.  Racism is such a loaded topic even just mentioning it makes one feel like they’re automatically racist.  In a world where we aren’t allowed to talk about something that’s upsetting us, how will we ever find a solution to this problem?  Pretending it doesn’t exist won’t help make it go away.  No, we need to face this topic and talk about it bravely.

Essentially, as a culture, we’ve reached an intellectual dead end in the discussion of race.  People now widely accept this ridiculous idea that racism is a “yes/no” category: you’re either racist or you’re not.  Hence people will immediately assume anyone who says, “I’m not racist, but…” is actually racist and stop listening to the rest of what they say.  I’m not denying that often what people who say such things are racist, but it isn’t necessarily so.  For example, while researching this series I wanted to get information about the number of crimes committed by ethnicity in Australia.  It’s not an easy task in case you’re wondering, I found several graphs depicting the crime rates for some ethnic groups to be 6-7 times higher than other ethnic groups but when I wanted to get them from an official government website I was disappointed.  In the end I had to use a lateral approach to get some reasonable reliable data because our government is too scared to publish data that suggests non-whites commit far more crimes than white people.  The reason?  Because apparently even publishing data, that happens to be true, would be destabilising to society.  Destabilising because no one wants race riots in Australia.  So officially immigrants don’t commit any more or less crimes than Australians who were born here do.  That might on average be true, because most immigrants are white and commit half as many crimes per capita than Australians born here.  Unfortunately, I just don’t have reliable enough data to tell you authoritatively that’s the case because ignorance is apparently bliss when it comes to issues concerning race.

What is racism?

Racism is as natural to human beings as breathing.  It’s hard wired into our brains in two ways: fear of strangers and a strong psychological bias to categorising people into groups like: blonde, Muslim, jock, bogan, preppy, nerd, girly-girl, gay, macho, white etc.  To discuss any topic we also need a clear answer to the question: what is racism?  Typically a dictionary will say something like “racial prejudice”.   If that’s the case then let’s look at some examples of racial prejudice: “Mexicans are lazy,” “Black people are stupid,” “White people are racist,” “Black people have big penises,” “Asian people are smart,” “White people are smart.”

These are just some racist things I’ve heard recently, now some people might be surprised to see that I’ve included positive statements as examples of racism.  This is generally from the assumption that a prejudice is always a negative thing, a prejudice is simply a “early judgement” and judgements can be neutral or positive as well as negative.  Also, logically speaking, if you believe one group is inferior then logically another group must be superior.  So immediately I hope some of you are realising something odd about how the word ‘racist’ is often used: if one says that ethnic group x is inferior, they’re racist, but if one says ethnic group x is superior to ethnic group y then for some reason they aren’t identified as being racist even though logically ethnic group y must be inferior to ethnic group x.  I hope some people are also starting to wonder if any human being alive isn’t racist.

The example I’m thinking of here is when I’ve heard white people say Asian or black people are superior to white people and I’m sure it never occurred them that they’re being racially prejudice against white people.  Another example is that it is usually fine for people, in Australia least, to say “Asian people are smarter” but conversely it is not ok for them to say “white people are smarter.”

Clearly, there are some peculiar double standards here, but before I move on I want to make another observation about racist comments: they’re not backed up with logical reasons or verified evidence, they’re just isolated generalisations that are accepted as true on face value.  So my definition of racism is the following: the acceptance of generalisations, both positive and negative, about an ethnic group as true without proper consideration.  By this definition if one says “black people commit more crimes” it is racist if black people don’t commit more crimes, or that there’s not enough evidence to prove this, but if there is evidence that black people commit more crimes then that’s not racist.  That’s simply stating a fact.  Let us hope speaking the truth never becomes illegal.

Collective identification does not equal  collective responsibility

Now, the issue of double standards or the phenomenon of the self-loathing white person.  All my life I’ve been told, increasingly more often, that white people are villains.  White people are racists, invaders, slavers, greedy capitalists, colonial dictators and genocidal maniacs.  Seriously, white people can’t seem to get anything right.  I’ve been told I should personally feel guilty about what happened to the aboriginal people, the Africans, the Indians and indeed the entire non-white world.  I find this peculiar because frankly, if I’m personally responsible, as a white person, for all of the bad things white people have done, then why am I not personally responsible for all of the good things?

I don’t recall anyone personally praising me, as a white person, for: ending the poverty of billions of people, almost every scientific discovery of importance, inventing human rights and democracy, curing the world of infectious diseases that killed and maimed billions more, inventing the welfare state, nor have I ever received personal praise for ending slavery, colonialism and apartheid.   If I’m going to be blamed for all of the bad things white people have done I expect to at least get some praise for the good things they’ve done.

Of course, this whole line of reasoning is insane:  If I hold you personally responsible for something your grandfather did and attempt to punish you for it I’m clearly acting in an immoral and savage manner.  Yet white people seem to fall into this trap all of the time: we invaded Australia, we slaughtered people everywhere we went, we bombed this country, etc.  For goodness’ sake white people: there’s enough guilt in the world already without making more up.  Besides, if you really believe we’re all one species shouldn’t you be saying, “we invaded ourselves, we slaughtered ourselves, we bombed ourselves”?  Anyone who is trying to make you feel guilty for crimes that you did not commit personally is trying to manipulate you, no exceptions to this rule exist to my knowledge.

Another way of looking at it is; if it was wrong when some white people told all non-whites they were worthless because they achieved comparably nothing while white people were conquering the world with their knowledge, culture and technology then it’s equally wrong to take any criticism of ourselves in the reverse direction.  Hence, just because some white people did some horrible things doesn’t mean every white person is personally responsible for them.  Collective identification does not equal collective responsibility.

Self-criticism gone wrong?

Personally, I think this phenomenon of the self-loathing white person is partly an example of our culture’s admiral trait of self-criticism gone too far.  I suspect it also has to do with our resentment to successful people: the rich, the beautiful, the popular, the talented and the happy.  People often assume just because someone is rich, beautiful, popular, talented or happy that they must have cheated to do it.  It’s a kind of narcissism: I’m just as deserving as they are (even though they more than likely worked very hard to get where they are) so they must have cheated to get where they are.  Hence why so many people sympathise with the under dog, because a competition has so few winners and so many losers.  Our culture hates winners and we have so few nice things to say about them.

This mentality of labeling white people as the root cause of all the world’s problems is extremely harmful for everyone.  As annoying as self-loathing white people are, they’re still the lucky ones because they see themselves as directors of their own fate.  But if ashamed white people are ever going to help other people find self-respect, they first need to learn how to respect themselves.  Apart from all the white people walking around feeling sorry for genocides they took no part in, if you go about blaming white people for all of your problems you’re putting yourself in the situation of helpless victim.  A person who sees themselves as a helpless victim doesn’t have the psychological capacity to rescue themselves from their own problems, instead all they do is scream, beg and guilt other people to rescue them.  Looking at the sheer volume of aid (approximately $120 billion in 2009 alone) that white people donate to non-whites this strategy of guilting white folks seems to be working quite well, but be careful what you wish for:  Looking at the appalling squandering of this generous aid from white people it would appear non-whites need to learn to fend for themselves and stop expecting hand outs.

In my next article in this series I will be exploring the great misunderstanding of ‘White’ history; the roots of the phenomenon of self-loathing white people.  If you want to know when this article is published be sure to subscribe!  In the meantime here is a related post I wrote some time ago which might interest you in the meantime.

Also, I know I’m bringing up a very controversial topic here but please keep the comments thoughtful and respectful of others.

Click here for part two

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Categories: Multiculturalism, People, Politics, Law

Author:Jason Sutherland

Resist the temptation to assume that you're always right or wrong. Never succumb to thinking you're so insignificant to trust your own thoughts and feelings. Always be responsible and listen carefully to others before passing judgement. Don't trust governments bearing stolen goods.

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14 Comments on “Let’s Talk About Race Baby: The Rise of the Self Loathing White Person [1/4]”

  1. August 22, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    I think the self loathing that you so eloquently write about can be elucidated quite succinctly with reference to Michael Moore’s statement in Stupid White Men: “White people scare the crap out of me.” He states:

    ‘This may be hard for you to understand – considering that I am white – but then again, my colour gives me a certain insight. I look around at the world I live in but it’s not the African-Americans who have made this planet such a pitiful, scary place. No black guy ever built or used a bomb designed to wipe out hordes of innocent people, whether in Oklahoma City, Columbine or Hiroshima. No, friends, it’s always the white guy.’

    Moore makes the classic faux-pas of race-commentary: he forgoes a study of racism in socio-economic contexts in favour of the argument of ‘historical accident(s)’. God, it’s an embarrassing book to read. How it sold over 300,000 copies in the UK in 2002, I do not know… I am not guilty of the crime of purchase, thanks to a poor library stock. With sales like those, however, it is pretty clear that Moore is not alone in his self-flagellation. In every area of society, from the academic to popular culture, anything that is viewed as ‘too white’ is seem as ‘dodgy’. It is definitely something that I witness within the ranks of academia; in the 90’s the canon was criticised for being composed mainly of ‘dead white guys’. Descartes, Hobbes, Darwin, Hegel: they were white so they were exclusive and elite. Never mind what they contributed to the development of humanity! So, white culture should be written over? If we are going to downgrade white culture, is black culture elevated? Not much chance when influential figures like CLR James are barely ever recognised. Even in popular music, figures like John Coltrane are rarely venerated. ‘Universal’ black culture is treated with as much derision as the dead white philosophers. There’s absolutely no applied logic here at all.

  2. August 22, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    Oh, and what about the literal bodily self-loathing…?

    Remember the debates about Sammy Sosa’s skin pigmentation? Reporters were quite to comment on black self-loathing…

    What about the use of tanning products to darken the skin? Are we meant to read this as a corollary and a witness of white self-loathing?

    • CW
      September 17, 2011 at 12:15 am #

      I think you raise an interesting point about tanning products. I have often wondered about the pressure that young white australians feel these days to darken their white skin. It’s as though white is not desirable or beautiful, as though it’s not okay to be white.

  3. Liam Prasad
    August 23, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    “Looking at the appalling squandering of this generous aid from white people it would appear non-whites need to learn to fend for themselves and stop expecting hand outs.”

    This particular idea of non-whites ‘fend[ing] for themselves’ is orientated almost solely around micro-economic market principles, and the problems that arise from the supply of costless substitutes for necessary goods.
    This comment is highly charged and not at all discussed, caution advised.

    • August 23, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

      I’ll come back to that point in part four. The difference in the interaction of China within Africa compared with the West suggests our aid policies are still directed from a standpoint of “western people as mature adults and Africans as naughty children.” Which, appart from being extremely patronising and self-serving to the Western ego is most likely more harmful to economic development than allowing them to negotiate with us as equals.

  4. CW
    September 17, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    While you do raise some controversial issues, I think they are worth raising. I have lived in the USA, Australia and NZ. And I have become quite concerned about the way white people are portrayed by many non-white groups. I personally can’t stand that it is somehow ‘okay’ for black people to make fun of white people, esp publicly like on BET, but if it was reversed whites would be called racist. There is this growing attitude that somehow because of what ‘we’ whites did to blacks they are allowed to attack and to poke fun at the poor white guy or girl. And we whites are not allowed to feel upset over it, we’re supposed to accept it because we’re guilty of way bigger injustices. Likewise, this same attitude can be found amongst other non-white cultures. I have spoken with people from diff cultures about their attitudes to whites, and they see no problem with having things like BET, like Maori TV channels, and other that are aimed soley at non-whites because that the mainstream tv and entertainment is for whites, and therefore no need to have a WET (white entertainment tv) for example, even the thought of it is simply racist, excluding etc… But while mainstream is becoming more and more ‘multicultural’ and diverse, so long as you belong to perceived minority it is okay to exclude whites.

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