Segregation in a modern society fueled by anti-racism — I will not silence myself because of my skin color
Writing this title, ‘A Colorless White World’, I get a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. With a title like this, I may generate immediate disgust by some readers. A colorless world doesn’t sound good. And as a white person, I cannot talk about anything societal in my world that is ‘not good’ because of my ‘white privilege’.
Implying that I suffer from anything — especially related to race — or that anything is being forced upon me will surely be followed up by accusations of my white privilege, entitlement and ingratitude.
Who am I, a white woman in America, to complain about or express any negative emotion regarding race or culture? Who am I to be hurt by the division among us? Who am I to ask for change or equality? How dare I ask for the same rights as everyone else, when I already have all the rights afforded to me by my white privilege in America?
These are the questions that I hear any time I consider writing words like the ones in this title. These questions haunt me any time I write about anything societal that has affected my life in a negative way or anything about race.
But if I mean what I say when I write about equality, my voice and my story matter too.
Saying that I should not advocate for my own equal treatment or the treatment of white people, because white people have it so much better, is like saying that a rape victim should not ‘complain’, because at least they weren’t murdered and chopped into a million pieces.
This is, however, what much of the world tells me.
My pain doesn’t count when it comes to these issues because I am white. It couldn’t have hurt as much for me to watch the horrendous 8 minute video of George Floyd’s murder because I am white. I am not capable of having the same amount of empathy for a black person as a black or brown person could because I am white. Most importantly, I don’t have freedom to express my thoughts and feelings around race because I am white.
American Culture and modern segregation
Saying that I do not have the right to speak out for our evolution around racial issues because I am white is like telling me that I am only allowed to care about the world as it relates to white people. How is that conducive to equality?
We are unsettled about history and Hollywood being white-washed as we white-wash the world of white people across our country.
Not only am I forbidden from discussing race and oppression, but I am also condemned for celebrating other cultures, which is what America is made of. Misguided enthusiasm around anti-racism has produced a new and modern form of segregation which we didn’t promote pre-2020.
In America, we have eaten sushi, listened to hip-hop, used piñatas and danced to the Macarena for my entire life. Black people have always worn white hairstyles and white people have always had dreads. Everything about our culture is made up of other cultures. White people have always listened to Tupac and black and brown people have always listened to Metallica.
You would think the elements of America that have provided such a diverse culture would be celebrated. Instead, society is ridiculing people for their cultural diversity — labeling people as ‘culture-vultures’ and accusing them of cultural appropriation.
Some even insist that black people are not capable of cultural appropriation — while every other race is.
White people who take great interest in different cultures are even being accused of treating other cultures as existing ‘solely for their entertainment’.
Society and mainstream media are asking me to live a colorless life — worried only about white things and white people, celebrating only white culture and speaking only in white conversations.
I refuse to live in a colorless white world
As an American, if I take every piece of every other culture and remove it from my life, from my experience and from my focus, there will be no culture left. My world would be colorless and empty.
All Americans, no matter their heritage or skin tone, are members of a diverse multicultural society.
If I acquiesce to the demands of society and forbid myself from advocating for racial equality, I am forbidding myself from advocating for my children, my friends, my family and even myself.
I have not lived a white-washed life. My experience has been graciously filled with people of all different hues and cultural history. I have lived with the rich and the poor of all colors. I have broken bread with every shade of person you can imagine. I have given birth to children of different pigments. I have witnessed the success and the failures of black people, white people and every so-called ‘color’ in between. I have cried in the arms of light and dark people. People of all colors and many cultures have shaped my life and I love a lot of people.
If I white-wash my world then there will be nothing left.
If I don’t advocate for people that don’t look like me then I will be leaving some of the people I love the most behind and I will be treating people differently based on the color of their skin and the color of mine.
Wait — isn’t that what we are ‘against’?
If I don’t advocate for white people because ‘they have it so good’, I am also treating people differently based on the color of their skin.
Even as I sit here and I cry while I write, I feel the weight of society telling me how I do not have the right to be sad. But if I silence myself, based on the color of my skin, I cannot, in good conscience, advocate for equality.
Allow me to re-introduce myself.
My name is Holly Kellums. I am a white woman who lives in America. Although my skin is fair, my world is colorful. From this day forward, I will not discriminate against anyone based on the color of their skin — not even myself.
I will no longer oppress myself because of my skin color.
I will no longer lay my head down at night wondering if I am doing the right thing by silencing myself.
I will no longer look at my bio and consider removing the word ‘activist’ because my present demonstration of activism is a white-washed disgrace.
I will no longer judge myself by the color of my skin, and will forevermore judge myself by the content of my character.
And, I will do the same for you.
I invite you all to consider the words of our great predecessor and consider doing the same for me.
I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
— Martin Luther King Jr
Written by Holly Kellums
Originally published on Medium.com