Story of my Whiteness

I grew up with the narrative of 3rd generation settlers from Eastern Europe through the drive and fanfare of the California Gold Rush. My mom’s heritage is Austrian/German/Polish farmers who migrated through Chicago to the Willamette Valley. My immediate experience was in a home of unspoken colorblindness, except for derogatory racial slurs about Africian American people. But it wasn’t very relevant because although I got the impression these people did not belong, they were not present anyway. Nonwhite labor was present and respected but not equal.  

I am learning now concepts that place my existence in a larger history. Here are some salient points:

  • 100,000,000 people lived on territory I know as North America before colonists (pre 1,300 A.D.). These people had a government, culture, transportation, trade, religion, science, astronomy, math as much as any other people on the planet. 90% of them were murdered through systematic genocide sponsored by colonists. These people did not ‘end’. It was only possible for settlers to survive due to the husbandry of people murdered. My roads overlay their roads. My towns are in their towns. Our forests burn now because we do not know how to harmonize with the land as they did. We have been here for 5-10 generations. Indigenous people have been here for 800 generations. Reference
  • African Americans have as much legitimate right to be on this territory as I do. Their history is not later and is not dependent on my approval. These concepts are ridiculous and only made as such as they are made explicit. Whites are here and Blacks are here and we are one people with heritage that is different by custom, culture, land mass, latitude, etc. Skin color is an effect of environment and lineage but that only makes people unique and special, not different and especially not less. 

I am deeply intolerant of hate, fear, terror, and feel anguish for knowing the 100s and 1,000s of years of history that people have oppressed others. I am sorry for my patterns that represent this bigotry and ask only that you help me bring to my awareness my own patterns that are not inclusive and not anti-racist. I am privileged and I am ashamed. I am sorry and I am grateful.