A few people (a few whites along with a few others) try to promote “white guilt.” But that approach misses the mark and only makes many white people feel defensive so they fail to work on solving the problems. For half a century I have said that instead of “white guilt” we need to promote “white responsibility.”
That puts the emphasis where it needs to be – recognizing that racial injustices benefiting white people have existed for centuries – and taking responsibility for solving the problems that have given us unfair advantage and privilege. Too many white people are negligent in being proactive, so their negligence leaves a gap, so people of color have to raise the issues and point out the problems and take leadership in solving the problems. It is not fair to impose that burden upon people who are already at a disadvantage in political, economic and social realities.
The term “racism” actually identifies SYSTEMIC problems, but too often it is perceived as a criticism of white INDIVIDUALS, even when no malice is intended. Then many white individuals feel defensive, as I stated above. (Some white individuals are indeed malicious and deliberately cruel, but that problem needs to be dealt with in other ways. What I’m discussing here are SYSTEMIC problems.) Instead of using terms that seem to blame white individuals for SYSTEMIC problems, we should use terms and concepts that accurately identify the realities. These include “racial disparities” and “race-based injustices” and so forth.
Racial injustices have persisted for a long time. They persist as the status quo even without overt and deliberate malevolence by white people. But – because racial injustices are so pervasive – it’s important for white people to understand and take actions.
In that light, a few years ago I produced an hosted a TV interview that I titled, “Racial Justice Insights for White Folks.” I chose some wise, compassionate white people to be my guests. You can watch that video and/or read a thorough summary of what we said at this link: