White Shame

Kyle Henry
3 min readJun 8, 2020

What do we do with all of the anger from life in an unfair world? If we don’t have fairness, we choose to numb ourselves — whether we are the oppressor or the oppressed. Neither feels good, but one does hold the power.

As the white supremacist race and class, we have a debt. A cancerous weight that rots our soul. We have generations of practice to deny the truth, to run from and mute our own reality. The reality that we are not the savior. That we are, in fact, the predator. Our identity and self worth is fused to the systems we’ve inherited from our ancestors. We are afraid to breakdown. We are afraid of change, but deep down - we don’t want this either. We don’t trust in the unknown. We hold on to control like we cling to our ego. The debt must be paid. And the payment is equality and letting go of what we’ve done for generations.

Did you hear the white folklore taught to kids about the Civil War? Black people freed from slavery by the heroics of the north. What a fucking lie. There are malicious people willing to lie because it suits their agenda of control. There are others that lie to avoid the deep shame inside them. And the lies we tell ourselves are a paradigm virus at the root of our illness. And we, the white people are very ill. Overweight and suffering in our heads. We’ve denied our own anger for too long, and we are so fucking angry at ourselves.

It’s not about delivering turkeys to the poor on Thanksgiving, big brothers and big sisters programs to feel good and pad your resume. Its about systemic fucking shifts where power over a life is held by the individual. But the system cannot reform itself. The system operates with power as its life blood. The powerful don’t have any incentive to change. We cannot beat them at their game, it was already won centuries and millennia ago. Overthrowing the system is always an option, but power will always find its way into the wrong hands, based on the lessons of history. What if we created a system that didn’t have power that could be hoarded and abused? What would this system look like?

The white subconscious holds the shame and truth of our violent past. Colonial, imperial, capitalism, racism. White people don’t trust themselves. They can’t. They don’t love themselves. To hide from the truth is to ignore its existence and deny the possibility of healing. We cannot receive forgiveness if we do not ask. We will not ask, if we do not acknowledge.

The scale of the sin is unfathomable. And it keeps piling up, like the plastic in the Pacific Garbage Patch. Every BIPOC killed by police. Every BIPOC killed under “Stand Your Ground” laws. We have to stand against the systems that contribute to this accumulation before we can heal the wound itself. We have a voice. We live and breathe inside the communities that racist ideologies are— perpetuated and asserted by white men and women.

We’ve gotten to a point where we will cry while watching Netflix but we are numb to our own life, emotionless, cold. We are unwilling to feel anything because the pain we won’t own, continues to grow. And now it’s so heavy and deep.

At the root is our denial that holds in place our shame….