Where Has All the Empathy Gone?

I read an Instagram post earlier today about white people’s complicity in white supremacy and inherent racism. Below is an excerpt of one of the comments.

[The post has since been removed by IG because it “doesn’t follow their Community Guidelines on hate speech or symbols,” a common experience for People of Color posting on IG about white supremacy or their lived experiences of racism]:

“Black and POC folks will spend the majority of their fucking lives unlearning self-hatred, assimilation habits, and the like. And we will have to continue to work to deal with the issues we face every fucking day! Do not think for a second that you will unlearn white supremecy in a less amount of time!”

It occurred to me after the part about “unlearning self-hatred…” that there must be some common ground here, right? Like, I spent the better part of my life hating myself for being dark, hating my eyes for not being light, hating my hair for being so frizzy and fluffy and not “sun-kissed.”

I spent much of my life hating my culture (for making me so not white), hating that I wasn’t articulate enough for white people at work to pay attention/listen to me (which I worked really hard to rectify), fearing the judgment that would come from eating something “too ethic” or saying something “obviously ignorant” when both were simply expressions of my cultural identity.

I have to imagine these experiences are not completely foreign to white people.

Yes, I’m listing extreme experiences and yes our experiences will have been different, and yes a white person’s experiences in the Western world are made easier by the White Gaze ever resting upon them to remind them they are still and always most important in this world … but aren’t there similarities, too?

The feelings of not being good enough/good looking enough/beautiful enough? Not being heard or understood and feeling like it’s your fault? Feeling the anxiety and apprehension of being the different one in a group of people, for any reason?

Yes, the demeaning, belittling, spirit-fracturing experiences of people of color in a white supremacist world are magnified and multiplied, but, if you are a white person reading this, can’t you at least imagine? Empathize? If given only a drop, can you not at least taste the ocean?

So it gives me such great pause when I’m forced to consider how deep the blindness and brainwashing must go in someone’s mind to render People of Color as subhuman. Less. Than. Human.Β And, as such, unworthy/undeserving of the most basic care and respect. Living lives so devoid of feeling or significance that, compared to a white person’s life, ours matter not at all. Our voices matter not at all. Our experiences matter not at all. Our bodies, our families, matter not at all.

Clearly, people of color have struggles. But also, white people – you have yours. I don’t know how deep your racism runs, but if it’s rendered entire groups of people, entire cultures that have been around for thousands of years, entire continents of people of color as SUBHUMAN…if you’ve lost that much of your humanity, you’ve got your own struggles and you have a whole lot of work to do.