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White Identity

Posted May 5th, 2011 by cws_mcqu

Through the last two years of working on understanding social justice and diversity I have had many battles within myself. I have worked hard to gain a better understanding of my white identity and how I may be perceived in our society. Yet, there is still something that I can’t understand or agree with that many white identified individuals have said. Many people who are White have said that they don’t believe they have a culture or there is no white culture. I’m shocked every time I hear someone say this to me as they believe they have no culture what so ever. I feel that many people feel that the only groups that have a culture are different racial or ethnic groups. I guess since whites are the dominate group that many feel they don’t have a culture and see such a contrast against others who claim to have a strong cultural background. I feel that since so many people are immersed into a white culture that it is hard for them to see, Shouldn’t it be a signal to people that if you notice other cultures that its proves you have a culture? In other words, how could you not have a culture if you are capable of seeing differences in your life compared to others lives? If you don’t believe there is a white culture then go visit somewhere outside the United States and you will feel your culture strongly. Now, many may argue that since there is such a difference between all the whites in this country that you can’t pinpoint a distinct culture. When I hear this it makes me believe that others think all Latino, Black, Asian, or other racial identities all have the exact same cultures within their groups. It’s not the case, and culture differs between everybody. My culture involves having BBQ’s on hot sunny days and campfires at night. Celebrating our countries holidays with friends and relatives and enjoying the freedoms so many have fought for me to have. Culture is how you were raised, the people around you, your experiences, and anything that has formed you.

Also, many have expressed feelings of shame or discomfort with their White identity. Many feel that since white privilege and oppression occurs from dominate groups that them as an individual is responsible and that they should feel ashamed if they ever are going to be an ally. Yet I feel this is a terrible concept. Instead of being ashamed of your white identity, embrace it! You’re white, you’re always going to be white, and you will always live with white privilege in this country. So what is the point of fighting an identity that you were born with? If you truly want to become a white ally then you have to be comfortable with yourself before you can ever be comfortable around others. One of the biggest steps in learning about white identity is simply realizing what it really means to yourself, and the privileges it affords you. No matter how upset you may become at other white identified individuals you have to understand that there are allies just like you out there, fighting for the same equity of others. We need to understand how others are at different stages of acceptance in their lives and we never should let a teaching moment pass.

I’m white, I know that I’m white, and I embrace my identity. I no longer will feel ashamed of being white or let others make me feel that way, because I know who I am. Embrace your identities for what they are, and cherish them because they’re the only ones you have in this life. Being an ally to people of color isn’t necessarily an easy process, but if being an ally was it really wouldn’t be being an ally.

The comments shared by the Community Relations Facilitator program are strictly the point of view from the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of UHDS. If this article has inspired a desire to dialogue, the author, or another CRF and/or any Resident Assistant, Resident Director or CoOp Director would be happy to participate. Please contact Nina Gassoway ( to assist in making arrangements.

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