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Cheryl is a  Learning Doula--a person who supports others as they learn, unlearn and emerge into their wealth and possibilities. budding pioneer of the field of learning and development. She is an established personal accountability and self-help author and has formed her business around the principles of autonomy, authenticity, and the courageous questioning that she writes about. Her new book, The Last Evaluation (coming soon) visits these principles in the framework of genuine and seamless living and working.

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My White Privilege

January 25, 2017

 

On the other side of the white supremacy coin is black adoration and worship. White privilege is really the great black hope. We, non-whites, want to be where and who "whites" are. We want the power, the status, the control and the label. White is the black person's goal. White is created and sustained by the person of color. Well, white is delusion and we are responding to something that isn't there. 

 

James Baldwin, an American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic said in several interviews of black/white relations, “I am not your nigger”. He meant, a nigger is something the white man has created. A white man did not create who James Baldwin really is, or anyone else a white man refers to as ‘nigger’.  Nigger is in the white man’s mind and is part of him. Only he knows what he means when he says and reacts to "nigger". Those words and what they mean, have nothing whatsoever to do with black people. They never have.

I completely agree with James Baldwin...it’s the white man’s job to examine why he needs a ‘nigger’. Why did he need to create this persona and why does he respond to it in a certain way? Why does he need a ‘nigger’ (whatever that is) to survive? Why is a nigger required for a white man to see a white man in the mirror? Why is a nigger needed for a white man to feel fear, compassion, gratitude, intelligence, self-love, or regret? I’m not sure if white people have ever asked themselves these questions, but if white behavior and systems associated with seeing and knowing niggers, Negros, blacks, (and any other label that differentiates white people from other people) will ever be examined, modified, or eradicated, the white man…the creator of these mentally bodied labels, has to do it. It is not my job, as someone who is not a nigger, to fix the niggers inside white people. If you see a nigger, you need to go to an eye doctor. If you know a nigger, you need your head examined. I’m neither an optometrist nor a psychiatrist. I cannot help you. I also cannot march, protest, elect, educate or pray the nigger away. You marching with me won’t work either.  The little nigger on your shoulder is chilling and evolving as you look outside to change nigger minds and behavior. It is you, white person, who needs to look in the mirror and say, “I am not a nigger” and from there do the work that needs to be done to discover who you really are. A great place to start is with Robin Diangelo's book "White Fragility: Why It's So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism". 

 

The white equivalent of James Baldwin (is there a white equivalent to James Baldwin?) can similarly say to the black man, “I am not your white person”. White is a persona that the black and non-white man has made. White, when used as an adjective, is everything innocent, good, human, worthy, clean, and pristine. Think of white lies, white knights, whitewash, and even white Christmas. The white man as something inherently more powerful and, in varied ways, better and more deserving than the black man is a persona that I, as a black woman, heard, bought into and held onto for dear life. When I offer this gift of "white person" to another he or she says, "I'll take it!!".  Growing up in southern Louisiana, I became very practiced in seeing myself as less than in school, in stores, at home, and in church. I am forcing ‘white’ onto a very ordinary, same-as-everybody-else, nothing special, potentially murderous, potentially loving, group of people that breathe, defecate, die and decompose like every other animal on the planet. Why do I do this? Why is a white man required for me to see a black woman when I look in the mirror? Why do I need ‘white’ to feel good, hopeful and worthy? Why is 'white' my salvation? Why is white supremacy and white privilege ( as opposed to plain old supremacy and privilege) necessary? Why do I constantly reserve a special, better, and higher category for my 'white'? Why do I fear and refuse to question what I’ve made?

 

People born without the copious amounts of melanin that I was born with are innocent of white. They are innocent of this low plane of worth and inherent value that I’ve placed them on. I've convinced them that they are better than me, the "non-white". A supremacist is "an advocate of the supremacy of a particular group, especially one determined by race or sex. For close to 35 years, I--a black woman-- was a white supremacist. The low melanated who claim the label ‘white supremacist’ and act as if this label gives them super powers, are the “alternative fact”! They're the posers!!  Those with a very low degree of the complex polymer derived from the amino acid tyrosine (aka, melanin) have no idea what white is, much less white supremacy! Like the nigger or black man for the "white person", white is my creation and if I don’t like what I’ve made, only I can examine, modify, or eradicate it. Giving credit where credit is not due will do nothing to the white in my eyes. Asking ordinary, pooping, melanin deficient animals who have come from regions where their ancestors did not have the same amount of sun exposure as my ancestors, to fix my white privilege is an exercise in futility. It's a waste of time. They can't do it. 

 

“I am not white” is where I must begin if I want change to happen.  I don’t have to wait on or rely on people with niggers, Negros and blacks in their eyes and minds to do this work. They’re afraid of what they’ve made too and have their own issues to deal with.

 

A system is a group of entities, seen by someone, as working together to produce something. Our confidence in the veracity of what we've made has been systematically woven into into implicit and explicit processes and patterns and carried over to culture, tradition and education. Everything that has been done to mend the racial divide to this point, has been done to this point. It wasn’t right or wrong. They are actions that were taken that have gotten us to where we are today and as Paul Mooney says, “ain’t nothing changed but the weather”. Yes, change has occurred but the Earth isn’t the same as it was 500 years ago either. Time will do that. I acknowledge the changes and the people and circumstances that were at the forefront, but I will not be imprisoned by gratitude and nostalgia. I will not remain in this rigor mortis of thankfulness, idolizing what naturally occurs in time. I will think and act for myself.  

 

Two main idols we worship in America are non-whites (niggers, blacks, minorities, POCs etc.), whites, and money (I'll save money for another article). We worship our own creations and we don’t want to let them go. You as the individual has to ask yourself, “why don’t I want to let this go”? Systems are made of individuals and it's in working together that we get to solve more evolved problems than racism. Skynet is about ready to shut everything down and we still hiring, firing and electing people based on the hue of their skin.

 

Getting the 'white' out of my eyes began with white Jesus. In my book Firing God, I tell the story of how that image is no better or worse than I am. That idea has no more magical powers than I have. I've unburdened the Jesus character of my white privilege and supremacy. Seeing people with less melanin than I around me every day is seeing the exact same capacity for good and evil, sight and delusion, and for action and complacency. I'm not relying on you, person of European descent, to change my mind. 

 

Form here, with my eyes open and unobstructed, I can effectively and with confidence address the real, systemic issues that need to be addressed beginning with my professional career in learning, development and evaluation. Now, without the magical powers of 'white' clouding my brain, we can talk about the ways I’m treated in society and the fact that it’s not okay. Now, I can clearly think about ways I can be involved in the meaningful political decisions that impact me and my children. Now,  I understand I’m not obligated to live down to the description and fear of your nigger, and you’re not obligated to live down to the description and fear of my white.  Now, we can have a human conversation, and realize the benefit and profit in removing the constraints around diversity and equivalence laws, regulations, policies and practice. A truly amazing book to read is Ijeoma Oluo's book "So you want to talk about race". She share many insights that can be helpful in our own self-examination.

 

People will continue to be ignorant asses, but when I saw something that wasn’t there I, too, reacted as if it were.

 

I’m about to close, but before I do let me say one more thing. My completeness does not depend on your cooperation.  You can say the same to me. If you cannot say that, you can find out why.

 

By Cheryl Abram, author of Firing God , Tales From Eternity: Armageddon, Orgasms, Kittens and Gravity…Fun and Entertaining Pointers to Truth  and Longing to Learn: Bringing a Sense of Delight and Freedom Back to Training and Development in the Workplace. Cheryl is also the owner of Ypifany LLC, an executive development company specializing in provoking understanding and clear vision at home and at work. You can reach Cheryl via her website www.CherylAbram.com or email ypifany@gmail.com. 

 

BELOW ARE A FEW SLIDES FROM MY 2/19 TALK AT BLOSSOMFORTH IN MANASSAS VA ON "MY WHITE PRIVILEGE"

 

 

 

 

 

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