#WhiteHistoryClasses Puts Clever Spin on Racism, Whiteness

I stumbled onto this trending topic on Twitter late Wednesday afternoon (which now has its own Tumblr page!), and I was surprised to see how those on the social network were able to capture the fallacies of whiteness, racism and white privilege in 140 characters or less.

Here’s a screen shot of some of the tweets using the hashtag:

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What I liked about the creation of the hashtag is it allowed people of color, as well as white people, to chime in and satirize some of the destructive ways racism, white privilege and whiteness plays in every facet of our lives.

We, meaning people of color, have all been in situations in which we’ve had to smile and nod while we listen to white people justify the appropriation of our food, music, culture and style of dress.

We’ve all had to patiently explain to white people that walking up and grabbing a black woman’s hair amounts to them reducing said black woman to their own petting zoo. We’ve all been in situations in which we have heard white people explain why they should call us their niggas and why they don’t think it’s racist to do so. We’ve all been situations in which we hear white people dismiss the act of slavery as happening centuries ago and demand black folks get over it because we weren’t slaves anyway.

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I think the reason why the hashtag caught on is it allowed us to verbally express the blatant double standards, derailing and red herrings white people employ to justify their racism and whiteness.

It allowed people of color a safe (as safe as you can be on Twitter) space to openly mock whiteness as yet another socially oppressive standard that seeks to maintain the superiority of white people in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Navigating racism and whiteness in the good ol’ U.S. of A is daunting, relentless and tiring. Having to dodge the offensive, racist bombs hurled by white people puts people of color on edge as we are forced to choose whether or not we will respond to such BS. We are constantly told by white people and whiteness that we are just too sensitive and need to lighten up. Whenever we confront racist acts, whiteness cleverly turns the conversation from their offensive comments to how their feelings were hurt by our “rage.”

In activist spaces, we are told that racism should take a backseat when it comes to discussions on gender equality, GLBTQ rights and eradicating economic oppression. We are charged with being divisive when we question white feminists’ racism and its dismissal of the concerns of poor, disabled, trans women and women of color. We are told we aren’t committed to the cause of gender equality and are urged to just fall in line as the question of racism will automatically be eradicated once gender equality is achieved.

Screen Shot 2013-02-21 at 8.09.16 AMWe are told by white anti-capitalists that we shouldn’t stress about racism because white progressive and liberals can’t be racist. We are told that poverty, sub-prime lending and unfair housing and banking practices affects everyone equally and discussions on racism will lead nowhere. We are told to be patient and achieving economic equality will solve the problem of racism and inequality in economics.

We are told that our natural hair is unprofessional, but a-okay for white people to appropriate in the name of experimentation. We are told that our thick lips, hips and bodies are hideous on us, but exotic on white women. We are told that our music incites violence and contributes to our pathology, but is hip when the likes of Eminem and Kreayshawn explore it. We are told that racism no longer exists, but it prime for discussion when white people claim they are the victims of racism.

We are told that our feelings on racism, white privilege and whiteness–and how all of it affects our psyche–are no important, but we are forced to stop what we are doing and pay attention to the White Woman Tears syndrome.

What were some of your favorite #WhiteHistoryClasses tweets? Share them with us!