You see it every so often. Usually on an internet post about something involving people of color, usually Black people. It doesn't have to be germane to the conversation (and in fact, it usually isn't), but every once in a while a brilliant young white (predominantly male) mind will come up with the pearl, "Why can't I be proud to be white? Black people get to be proud but if I'm proud I'm a racist? EXPLAIN IT TO ME AND ALSO DID I MENTION I'M NOT A RACIST?" This thinking is, of course, racist and misguided. But even on a practical level, it also ignores a very important question.
Why the hell would I be proud to be white?
I don't ask this to be clever. The question is asked in all seriousness. There are very basic qualifications required to be rightfully proud of something. I haven't overcome anything because I'm white. To me, being proud of being white is equivalent to being proud that I was born with both hands and a working spine. You're patting yourself on the back for simply being handed a full deck.
To extend the metaphor, imagine you're playing a card game. You are handed a deck of cards. Your opponent is handed ten cards. You are then each told to come up with the best five-card hand you can muster. Being proud of your whiteness is akin to bragging to your friends that you pulled a royal flush.
Then, there's history. Quite honestly, the history of white people is a horror show. Everything in my life has been made easier by being white, and that's because white people made it so on the backs of others. White people control the government and pursestrings and constantly use that to maintain our position of power, demonizing and actively holding down people who made the mistake of not being born white. I've never experienced a single person that hated me because I'm white. Never. I'd be shocked to meet a person of color that could say the same, and I don't blame a PoC for having a high bar to clear before they trust me.
I don't deserve the benefit of the doubt. That ship sailed along with the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. White people gained dominant status through deception, murder, slavery and a prolonged reign of terror that the world had never seen. We keep it through legislation, intimidation and hostility. Our privilege isn't earned, it's stolen.
So to me, pride is for reserved for that which we've fought to attain, or something that we've overcome. People of color are instructed by society from a very young age that their skin is something to be ashamed of, something lesser. To overcome that and be proud of your skin is something I'll never have to do, because I've been told from a very young age that the way I look is standard, and normal, and ideal.
None of us attended Race Orientation Day in the womb. We didn't earn our privilege as white people. We simply received the whole racial deck when we were born. That's nothing to be proud of or ashamed of. It just is.
McUncool yells at people on Twitter, often in all caps, @joshuaadavidd.