Please tell me, Ezinne, you can hear the classism dripping in her essay. She even bothered to vividly paint it. “Upper class white people don’t act racist.” Why the racist epitaph-using, trailer park trash she described is so visceral we can almost see them drool. But the Upper class, they don’t vote for people who support racist policies (college-educated white people being half of Trump’s voters, yet only 34ish% of the population). They don’t support public school funding that starves poor districts but makes their own school districts flush (see Ellen Brantlinger’s book, Dividing Classes: How the Middle Class Negotiates and Rationalizes School Advantage). They don’t fund the dozens of think tanks pumping out racist ideas like the Heritage Foundation where Charles Murray worked as he wrote the Bell Curve. Michael Richards from Seinfeld who shouted out racist words in a comedy club, that guy is so poor. The owner of the basketball team caught on tape spewing racist garbage. That guy can’t find a buck. People remember the poor white person as the only racists, because it suits everyone to remember it that way.
I could just as easily say as a white person growing up in a community where it was 10% white — and those white people were poor — that we were the ones who were actually not racist. We had to deal with racial animosity directed toward white people through beatings, a rape in my case that was racially motivated, and general intimidation. We didn’t have one pleasant black guy in the school named Jimmy who everybody just loved and that everybody missed so at the reunion. We had kick-my-ass-Chyrell. I had Tell-people-he-raped-me-because-a white-girl-gave-him-crabs-Bryant. Taunt-me-for-years-Shara. We had the gang of boys who forced my brother to fight another boy leading to his broken arm when he wouldn’t fight.
These individuals were mean. They were just individuals. They didn’t represent a race. We grew up to still understand white privilege, speak out against racism, and yet always, we always carry the tag, racist alone.