White People's Responsibility to End Racism

White racism is a systemic phenomenon that is deeply woven into the fabric of our society and has a corrosive effect on the minds, bodies and souls of all Americans -- and it needs to end, Darron T. Smith, Ph.D., writes at the Huffington Post.

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Mourners of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968 (Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In a piece at the Huffington Post, Darron T. Smith, Ph.D., writes that white racism is a systemic phenomenon that is deeply woven into the fabric of our society -- and needs to end because it has a corrosive effect on the minds, bodies and souls of all Americans.

... Dealing justly with American racism means that white Americans must come to terms with the historical legacy of inequality inherited from their forbears. This means partaking in a thorough review of the United States as a nation founded (in part) on racist principles. We tend to underestimate the impact of systemic white racism, rationalizing it as an individual affair rather than a system of oppression involving 246 years of slavery and 90 years of Jim Crow for roughly 85 percent of our existence as a nation.

Since the 17th century, the political and economic elites -- mainly white men -- played a role in shaping our institution that disproportionally benefits white people to this day. Whether or not they are actually aware of their skin-privilege, over 20 generations of white Americans have inherited socioeconomic resources from their forbearers who benefitted unjustly from slavery, segregation, and other forms of racial oppression.

To the present, Americans of color have been economically impoverished and struggling because white Americans, past and present, have used extensive discriminatory motives and resistance to change to protect their group position. Just as it is impossible for any man to fully understand a woman's position in our sexist society, no white American can fully empathize with white racism and the experience of being black in America. Hence, all white Americans have some inclination (to varying degrees) to overlook the realities and affects of racism that undermines any real chance for communities of color to have some semblance of success and group uplift at the so-called "American Dream."

Read Darron T. Smith, Ph.D.'s entire piece at the Huffington Post.

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