The Winter of the West
In 1923, Oswald Spengler wrote, in his illuminating work The Decline of the West, that “To-day we live so cowed under the bombardment of this intellectual artillery(the media) that hardly anyone can attain to the inward detachment that is required for a clear view of the monstrous drama. The will-to-power operating under a pure democratic disguise has finished off its masterpiece so well that the object’s sense of freedom is actually flattered by the most thorough-going enslavement that has ever existed”.
Nearly fifty years later, American musician and poet Jim Morrison remarked, “Whoever controls the media controls the mind”.
History, in a lucid light, is only the delineation of ideas for the assumption of power. Which is why, in 2018, we have this letter penned by an anonymous Caucasian male, identified only as “Whitey” to the New York Times, which it promptly reprinted. Oh how I bemoan the death of free thought…..
Aug. 14, 2018
I’m riddled with shame. White shame. This isn’t helpful to me or to anyone, especially people of color. I feel like there is no “me” outside of my white/upper middle class/cisgender identity. I feel like my literal existence hurts people, like I’m always taking up space that should belong to someone else.
I consider myself an ally. I research proper etiquette, read writers of color, vote in a way that will not harm P.O.C. (and other vulnerable people). I engage in conversations about privilege with other white people. I take courses that will further educate me. I donated to Black Lives Matter. Yet I fear that nothing is enough. Part of my fear comes from the fact that privilege is invisible to itself. What if I’m doing or saying insensitive things without realizing it?
Another part of it is that I’m currently immersed in the whitest environment I’ve ever been in. My family has lived in the same apartment in East Harlem for four generations. Every school I attended, elementary through high school, was minority white, but I’m now attending an elite private college that is 75 percent white. I know who I am, but I realize how people perceive me and this perception feels unfair.
I don’t talk about my feelings because it’s hard to justify doing so while people of color are dying due to systemic racism and making this conversation about me would be again centering whiteness. Yet bottling it up makes me feel an existential anger that I have a hard time channeling since I don’t know my place. Instead of harnessing my privilege for greater good, I’m curled up in a ball of shame. How can I be more than my heritage?
And that my friends, is the sound of common sense rolling away into oblivion…..
See the full article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/style/white-guilt-privilege.html
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