How are we to be White?

So let’s talk

Susan Brassfield Cogan


I’ve been thinking about this article for a while. About a year ago I wrote an article called “Helper whitey explains the problem of whiteness.” It was from the heart and I’m still uncomfortable with the topic. I even touched on the phrase “whitesplaining.” But I had a thought about the subject and it’s black history month so I thought “so what the hell.”

I started to think about the pronouncement “all white people are racist.”

The word “all” is, and always will be, a problem. The word is very large. Did Barack Obama’s white mother and grandparents love him with all their hearts? I believe they did. Were they racist? It kind of depends on how you define “racist.” Young men don’t get into Harvard if they were raised by people who thought they were inferior, stupid, lazy, and violent.

So I might go along with “most” or “nearly all” white people are racist. And I should qualify “all” even a bit further. I’m talking about “all” white Americans.

I read an article quite a while back by a young black women discussing how hard it was to date. She was on all the usual dating sites and not getting much in the way of action, when for some reason, she had to go to Europe for an assignment or a conference or something.

In her article, she described herself as having average looks. The photo in her bio said otherwise. She was beautiful.

In Europe her dating experience was very different. She was mobbed by men at every turn, flirting with her, chatting her up, asking her to dinner, asking for her phone number. For the first time in her life she was a hot property. Her color was a mere component of her beauty.

I’ve read statements by people from Europe or the UK saying that Americans are absolutely weird about race.

Yes. Yes, we are. Let’s own that.

In America, calling someone “racist” is a terrible slur almost as bad as directing a racial slur at a black person. Therefore saying “all white people (mostly Americans) are racist,” will elicit a hugely angry backlash. It guarantees that every Internet troll in North America will crawl out from under their bridges and start slinging mud balls.



Susan Brassfield Cogan

I write self-help, life coaching, and political opinion. I am a creativity and mindfulness coach