I reject any suggestion that I should feel guilty or ashamed because of my skin colour. Your allegation that my “white silence” is offensive is demonstrably untrue. What is bluntly offensive are your efforts to coerce non-combatants such as myself into the fray. The whole “my enemies friend” makes no sense. Plus, as a rule, us introverts don’t do hysterical mobs. But more than that, if my silence signifies anything then it’s not the presence of a shred of so-called white guilt, but rather a yawning cavern of absolute disinterest. This is just not my fight. I absolutely will not apologise for being Caucasian, because you can’t fight prejudice, imaginary or otherwise, with prejudice.
To be ‘woke’ these days is just so old-school. Furthermore, I reserve my right not to be accused of culturally appropriating the fighting-words of others. Simply put, I don’t have to show solidarity. I have no coloured friends to enrage by failing to publicly support them in their most-Instagrammable time of need. I haven’t accumulated a rainbow coterie of friends to prove how socially aware I am. My problem, see, is that I don’t find you interesting just because of your skin-tone. If I like you, I like you for other reasons. Nor are you interesting just because of your gender identity, food preference, or whatever. Eat lentils, who gives a shit. But I owe you nothing, no explanations, and don’t care what you think about me.
These words of mine aren’t weapons, no matter how you spin them. The only weaponisation of language occurring right now is your demand that we all fall into line. Examples include the sneery suggestion that white silence denotes white fragility. Try harder. This weak attempt at provocation: “Support us, or we’ll cancel you!” Insert the sound of sheep bleating, if you like. Again, isn’t it just possible that many people, irrespective of their skin colour, might not care, or are just too busy trying to feed their family during a plague? COVID-19, remember? Who said you get to decide that words (‘all lives matter’) are unutterable? Without words we can’t have conversations. No matter how many statues you tip into the river, our history is our history.
My history is white, male, working-class and left-wing. At various points in recent times, your have demanded that I feel bad about some or all of these. Feel bad for being a man, because I’m not a woman or intersex or something else. Shame for being middle-class now, and no longer the working poor. Guilt at being born white, because white is not black or brown. Once vegan but no longer, clearly I have a blood-lust for murdering innocent animals. I try to ride a bike to work, but it doesn’t laways happen, so now I’m an part-time eco-vandal. Obesity is unattractive in a woman no matter how loud she hollers and stamps her foot, so I’m a fat-shamer. Honestly? Put all you snowflakes together in one spot and you get an avalanche. But, word for the wise, I was born in the Arctic Circle.
I enjoy an unfair privilege because I was born white. It does confer advantages. Do I wish you were all white? If it made you shut up, maybe. But I happen to like you coffee-coloured, rose-tinted, sunny-side up. I am also able-bodied, well-educated, and still employed. All advantages. So I’m confused — should I feel guilty for not being disabled? For retaining my job? For putting myself through university? In many quiet ways I’ve had a hard life, but allow me not to olay the victim. I’ve only done two smart things — leave home before I killed my mother, and married my lovely (albeit shamefully white and slim) wife. I’d add to those a third serendipitous third decision, one which has altered my life unutterably for the better: I never coveted followers.
I figure it’s better to walk alone than in the wrong direction.