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Proud To Be White.

Updated: Nov 29, 2020

Have you ever agreed with something that seemed logical, but you got this feeling in your stomach telling you it’s not true? As someone who is logical by nature, I can easily push feelings aside for truth. Yet for some reason when I considered the concept of people being proud to be White, my brain agreed, but I felt my gut turn. Why? Don’t we teach black people to be proud of their heritage? Isn’t that hypocritical?

Growing up, I attended Afrocentric, a school that gave precedence to Black history and African studies. One of the things that was pushed in our education was self worth and being proud to be black. I know what you are thinking, what’s wrong with White people being proud of themselves too? I’m glad you asked.

Nothing is wrong with being proud to be who you are. With children, it's very important to teach them to like themselves. For black kids, liking themselves can be a problem in their early years especially when it comes to the way they look. It’s hard seeing yourself in the mirror when your skin and hair resemble your African heritage, but everything around you subliminally reflects European beauty as the standard. It’s so important that a black child is taught that they are beautiful, smart and important, or they will default to believing otherwise. This is why it is so necessary to teach them to love the skin they are in. Things are changing. As positive black representation arises and black kids see themselves in the media and in leadership, their importance is becoming more and more obvious to them naturally.

Back to that weird feeling I got from saying “White people should be proud to be white.” I know that the phrase isn’t intended to mean harm, but something was up with the word “White”. Identifying as one’s skin color I think only exists here in the US, and probably South Africa. British people don’t refer to themselves as white, or any other Europeans. They don’t even say they are a White British, they just call themselves British. People from Jamaica with citizenship in Britain may say they’re black, but they know and will identify themselves as Jamaican, or just British, or whatever the word is for both. Even in the US, Jamaicans call themselves Jamaican. Why don’t Jamaicans just say they are black? Because they don’t have to. They know they are Jamaican.

Although they are descendants of Africa like us, they find their identity in Jamaica. For the US, things are more complex because of the tragic history surrounding race in this country, which resulted in black people not having full citizenship until the 60’s, causing us to never fully assimilate. We unconsciously don’t feel American because of how long it took for us to be legal citizens. Jesse Jackson tried to get black people to identify as African American, but most of us prefer to be called black, and why? We don’t identify with Africa because most of us have never been there, and America has never felt like home.

Black is what we have been called since we arrived in the US, and unfortunately, its where our history begins. For whites, they knew their history before arriving in the US, so their history doesn’t start here. As many as there are white families in the US, that is how many origin stories white people have. They didn’t come to this country identifying as “white”. They came here as Irish, British, Russian, German, French, Spanish, Italian, the list goes on and on. It wasn’t until the 1st or 2nd generation that they could finally assimilate and see themselves as American.

When I hear a white person say I am proud to be Italian, Russian or British, it doesn't feel like anything is weird or wrong. That’s because these identities are tied to more than just their skin color. White people know where they come from, and to be proud of that is good. Black American’s identity only ties us to our skin color, because that’s how our story in the US begins. Our skin marked us as unworthy of freedom, and it still marks us today.

In Africa we were not black people, we were Fula, Akan, Yoruba, Bambera, Mandinka ect, but slavery in the US, Europe, and yes the Middle East, tied African’s identities to their skin color. Black people can’t point to a specific people and place that they come from. When Black people say that they are proud to be Black, it makes sense because of our shared history of overcoming slavery and racism.

White people don’t all share the same history. The history of “White” is the oppression of Black people. White people only need to identify as White because they identified us as Black. It’s now part of our culture to say White people and Black people with no intent to be negative or feel superior, but I believe this history is why I got that feeling from the phrase “Proud to be White.” There is a reason why only the Alt Right uses that phrase, and no one else.

To be proud of being white is to be proud of the struggles blacks have gone through. I know most white people don’t feel that way, and some don’t have a family history of those atrocities. So I wanted to explore where that feeling came from and why it felt so wrong. Being proud to be an American or any other nationality just doesn’t feel wrong, even with the bad parts of their history. A nation isn’t tied merely to the color of one’s skin, but to culture, government, history, tribes, and language.

Europeans labeled themselves White to separate themselves from Africans as superior, so celebrating the term will always feel wrong. African descendants adapted to the label of “Black,” originally meant to dehumanize them, and created a new culture we now embrace. Regardless of our history, there is one thing we should all be proud of. It was Americans who fought to end slavery, White and Black. While other nations had a history of slavery for hundreds of thousands of years - some continuing to this day. I’m glad our country could be a part of ending slavery some 91 years after it declared its own self free.

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