I've been wanting to write this one for a while, but didn't know exactly how to do it. Racism in the United States is a big issue, and often I don't like writing about big issues. I like focusing on modular things, writing about things piece by piece, and not unleashing another voice in the cacophony. But sometimes events align in such a way I don't feel right keeping silent. .I can't write a definitive answer for everyone, and my opinion might add some understanding. I hope so.

Earlier this week, an unarmed African-American 23 year old man was shot 20 times in his grandparents backyard. The police believed he was carrying a gun. He was carrying a phone. He was suspected of breaking car windows. Also this week, a 23 year old serial bomber in Austin committed suicide with an improvised explosive device as police were closing in on him. He was, as most white killers are, a shy, sweet kid who kept to himself and who wasn't capable of violence. He was raised in a conservative, almost separatist environment, and was at times outspoken in conservative beliefs. His bombings seem to have targeted African-Americans. When questioned, however, the Austin police chief said:

I know everybody is interested in a motive and understanding why. And we’re never going to be able to put a rationale behind these acts. He does not at all mention anything about terrorism nor does he mention anything about hate. But instead, it is the outcry of a very challenged young man, talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point.
In general, I applaud sensitivity from the police, but in this case, it seems like an odd time for a Texas police officer to go existentialist on us. This was a man who killed two people and injured several others in cold, premeditated murder. A man who seemingly would have gone on to kill more.

All the facts aren't known. There is a lot of context, always. Maybe the man shot in Sacramento was a serial rapist. Maybe the Austin bomber suffered from severe mental illness. I don't like to make a blanket statement, but I have seen this pattern too many times. Young black men are tough, strong criminals who have chosen a life of crime. Young white men are silly, immature kids who are in over their heads.

You might think I am here to write a polemic against America's racism against black people. But I am actually here to talk about America's racism against white people, which is the other side to the coin. I am here to talk about the myth of white fragility, the myth that white people are immature, weak and unaware. This myth is so prevalent, it is hard for me to say when I first encountered it. Perhaps because my background was not universally "suburban and middle class", I picked it up much later than most. I remember in my late teens, when I set out to study martial arts, there would sometimes be askance looks, and comments that I would quickly "get my ass kicked" if I was in a fight with "a tough black dude". Once or twice, these exact words were used to me, but usually it was more a general way to contrast the silliness of an 18 year old with a few months of kung-fu with the reality of the mean streets. Which was probably fairly accurate, but still was full of essentialism: white people were naturally weak and unsuited for action, and no matter of practice could make me a match for the essential physical superiority and natural athleticism of black people. The stereotype cuts both ways, and is insulting to each. And it comes in many varieties. White people are physically weak. They are awkward and clumsy with their bodies (and of course, bad at dancing). They are also socially clumsy, lacking in verbal wit and fashion sense. And that leads us into being sexually unattractive, especially for white men. They are, in the word I chose for the title, fragile, with any posturing undertaken dissolving under the pressure of real life. And maybe even more than those things, they are inauthentic. Real feelings are hidden behind a mask of detachment and irony. Or maybe there are no real feelings, and the detachment isn't a mask, just a mode. There is a line from the surface stereotype of white people, of being weak, clumsy, and socially awkward, to the idea of white people being unreal, of living in a world of facile and meaningless decisions.

All of this is in contrast to the group that is amorphously called "non-white" in the United States, who are described using opposite adjectives, words that are seemingly complimentary but, as in most cases of cultural foiling, are backhanded compliments. The opposite stereotype to the unreal white man is the sexualized, emotionally impulsive and violent black man. The counterpoint to the white man who is a brain with no experiences of their own is the minority that lives purely on instinct. And the end result of the white exurbanite living in a surreal connectionless landscape where every encounter can be retreated from, where everything can be laughed off as "just a joke, bro", is the African-American who faces fatal consequences from the slightest literal misstep.

I am, in the United States, a "white person". I am mature, and have the ability to understand the world around me, and that my emotions and actions have real consequences. I live in a world that I can effect. I am physically capable of hurting others. I can create and express. My language, culture and experiences are my own, things that belong to me, and not just things I am commenting on as an outsider. I am real. Me refusing to believe that the caricature of whiteness in America is true is part of the cure for the increasingly bizarre racism that is showing up in myriad ways across the United States.

Rebuttal nodes have been out of fashion but here I go. Any emphases made are my own.

I am here to talk about the myth of white fragility, the myth that white people are immature, weak and unaware. This myth is so prevalent, it is hard for me to say when I first encountered it. Perhaps because my background was not universally <"suburban and middle class", I picked it up much later than most. I remember in my late teens, when I set out to study martial arts, there would sometimes be askance looks, and comments that I would quickly "get my ass kicked" if I was in a fight with "a tough black dude". Once or twice, these exact words were used to me, but usually it was more a general way to contrast the silliness of an 18 year old with a few months of kung-fu with the reality of the mean streets. Which was probably fairly accurate, but still was full of essentialism: white people were naturally weak and unsuited for action, and no matter of practice could make me a match for the essential physical superiority and natural athleticism of black people. The stereotype cuts both ways, and is insulting to each. And it comes in many varieties. White people are physically weak. They are awkward and clumsy with their bodies (and of course, bad at dancing). They are also socially clumsy, lacking in verbal wit and fashion sense. And that leads us into being sexually unattractive, especially for white men. They are, in the word I chose for the title, fragile, with any posturing undertaken dissolving under the pressure of real life. And maybe even more than those things, they are inauthentic. Real feelings are hidden behind a mask of detachment and irony. Or maybe there are no real feelings, and the detachment isn't a mask, just a mode. There is a line from the surface stereotype of white people, of being weak, clumsy, and socially awkward, to the idea of white people being unreal, of living in a world of facile and meaningless decisions.

I understand the following is unhelpful, not constructive, emotionally charged, a bit confusing and possibly factually untrue. But I have chosen to include it as it was my first and most honest response after reading the above.

Welcome to being treated like a race white boy. It's not comfortable is it? A perfect example of white fragility too since not only are the claims of racism not real but also do not cause statistical societal harm because again, they are not real. This kind of nonsense is how the Proud Boys got started and feels vaguely incel-y. You ok bro?


And now onto actual substance.

Racism against white people as a monolith is a pretty new idea and still doesn't really have a firm foothold. I first saw it as an emerging idea about 15 years ago, popularized by the blog Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander who is himself white and started it as a way to poke fun at himself. Even that was targeted at a particular kind of white person rather than white people as a whole but it started the idea of looking for stereotypical behavior. And now more than 10 years later it has failed to evolve into anything that can truly be called racism against white people as a whole.

The best evidence for this is the lack of white jokes, white slurs and all encompassing stereotypes. In the absence of the existence of a universally recognized slur, "white people" as a term has become a pseudo-slur, with the derivative "sounds about white/whyte/wyte" but it's not an all encompassing term and also appears near exclusively in situations regarding race relations. And no, Honky, Cracker, and Peckerwood have not seen actual widespread usage. Furthermore in the entirety of my experience I have come across exactly one white joke that follows the setup question and punch-line format. (No, Blonde, German, Jock, Redneck etc jokes don't count. Those are not white jokes, they are Blonde, German, Jock, Redneck etc jokes.) Even the farthest left corners of the interwebs only have a handful of universally agreed upon stereotypes that I can recall: "White people don't season their food properly"; "White people can't dance"; "White people can't jump"; "White people are either racist or completely ignorant of race problems." Not exactly hardcore racism.

Even the original context the above started with has a basic flaw of assumption.

In general, I applaud sensitivity from the police, but in this case, it seems like an odd time for a Texas police officer to go existentialist on us. This was a man who killed two people and injured several others in cold, premeditated murder. A man who seemingly would have gone on to kill more.

All the facts aren't known. There is a lot of context, always. Maybe the man shot in Sacramento was a serial rapist. Maybe the Austin bomber suffered from severe mental illness. I don't like to make a blanket statement, but I have seen this pattern too many times. Young black men are tough, strong criminals who have chosen a life of crime. Young white men are silly, immature kids who are in over their heads.

The base assumption being made is that it is due to the negative stereotypes of white people the police are in a sense taking away the autonomy of the young criminal in question, infantilizing him. Being white, he couldn't possibly have understood the consequences of his actions. The problems is that isn't what is happening. The criminal isn't being infantilized because he's white; he's being absolved because a criminal couldn't possibly be what he wanted to be because he's white. He's a person before he's a criminal and a person gets the benefit of the doubt.

immature, weak, unaware, naturally weak, unsuited for action, physically weak, awkward, clumsy, socially clumsy, lacking in verbal wit and fashion sense, sexually unattractive, inauthentic.

It's almost like almost all of media doesn't exist. Hell the mediocre looking white guy getting the hot girl is basically a trope. Just do a quick thought experiment. Take the positive opposite trait and attach it to a white character. It is weird? Is it novel? Absolutely not. That's because those stereotypes do not actually exist. Now these stereotypes do exists for nerd/geeks. But that's because they're nerds, not because they're white. #NotAllWhitePeople is something inherently understood. The Breakfast Club breakdown stays true and current: a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal. Jokes, stereotypes, caricatures are based on different classifications of white people, not white people as a monolith. Making a redneck joke about Joe Biden is going to fall flat even with a crowd that vilifies white people but half the midwest will chuckle about Barack Obama and watermelon.

To take this past media and into real life consequence: No one is choosing to not hire someone with a white sounding name because they don't think they'll be physically strong enough. No one is choosing to not hire someone with a white sounding name because they don't think they'll have fashion sense. No one is choosing to not hire someone with a white sounding name because they don't think they'll be coordinated. No one is choosing to not hire someone with a white sounding name because they don't think they'll be sexy. These things don't happen. Believing they do is the myth.

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