Throughout American history, and continuing today, white people are still afforded more while people of color exist to get less. White people distance themselves from this reality. They’re addicted to the high of their whiteness - being able to pursue their goals without accountability.
White transplants often deny their complicity in Oakland’s housing crisis. They frame gentrification as an overall positive change for Oakland. Or, those who are aware of their negative impact, claim they’re just trying to survive - when the reality is, they’re here to capitalize. Hipsters will blame techies - instead of acknowledging their involvement in the housing crisis. And progressive and conservative white people relish in publicly shaming extreme acts of racism, while ignoring the daily racism all around them. They loudly proclaim their values of equality and justice on social media. But they aren’t challenging the racism in their social circles, workplaces, and families.
White people also conveniently brand themselves in ways to hide their oppressive actions.
In Oakland, it has become popular for white transplants to identify as “allies” to communities of color. Many of them want to “join the fight,” “volunteer”, work at a nonprofit, vote for Democrats, but there is no set of actions they can take to offset the fact that they are colonizing sacred land - imposing themselves in a community that is disappearing precisely because of their presence.
Ta-nehisi Coates points out how white Americans worship democracy - but fail to recognize how this country continues to violate those values. The myths about oppression are problematic because they create the false impression that the choices and perspectives of individual people are what shape reality. But the force of racism is so much more powerful than any individual - whether or not a particular person is individually racist becomes almost irrelevant. In other words, a white person who considers themselves a non-racist does not negate the racism that exists on a larger-scale. Even if a white gentrifier in Oakland decides to move, the force of gentrification remains the same. But, white people still have a responsibility to identify the concrete ways that they’re oppressing other groups. They may not be able to affect systemic change, but at least they’re being accountable to the steps they can take to undo their complicity in these problems. Gentrifiers cannot express sympathy for communities they’re actively displacing. These gentrifiers undergo transformations of identity and talking points in an aim to escape economic accountability. But they’re perpetuating the uneven distribution of wealth in this country along racial lines.
America was founded on systemically subjecting entire races to genocide. And today, housing inequality is the legacy of that.
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