White staffer at college newspaper: ‘If you’re white, you’re probably racist’
The opening salvo from Marissa Cornelius — opinions editor of the University of Alabama’s campus paper, the Crimson White — is hard to miss.
“If you’re white, you’re probably racist,” she writes in her recent op-ed, “White people must examine their own racist attitudes.
“I don’t necessarily mean you say openly bigoted things or that you like spending your weekends defending Confederate monuments (though you might be that brand of racist, too),” Cornelius continues. “I just mean that you probably have a lot of internalized racist beliefs that you most likely haven’t spent a lot of time unpacking.”
Cornelius — who notes she herself is white — goes on to call out examples of white people being afraid of going into certain neighborhoods, calling black people “articulate” after hearing them speak, and even shouting out the N-word while listening to a rap song. “Well, if they say it, why can’t I!” she adds.
“You being racist might not be entirely your fault. We’re raised in a society that devalues people of color with pretty much every opportunity it gets. We’re raised in a country where black people could literally be owned as few as four or five generations ago, and where they were actively being denied the right to vote during many of our parents’ lifetimes,” Cornelius continues. “We’re exposed to media that has type-casted people of color into a very narrow range of characters and tropes.”
However, she points a finger at whites who fail to acknowledge “the fact that, yes, you have racist beliefs and attitudes, and these might even sometimes be manifested into racist words or actions” before bringing up Bill Maher’s recent use of the N-word during a “Real Time” episode on HBO.
Cornelius declares that Maher “like almost all of white America, wants to believe that he is post-racial. But by holding on to this belief, we engage in a dangerous sort of erasure of the racism that still plagues this country, extinguishing any chance we might have to address these issues and to attempt to fix them. When we pretend we are post-racial, we ensure that this will never be the case.”
More from the op-ed:
It’s time for us as white people to accept that racism is embedded in all of us. This isn’t to say that you should be any less embarrassed and ashamed of any of your racists words or actions, it is to say that you should stop reacting with so much disbelief, with so much “I don’t have a racist bone in my body!” with so much “I would have voted for Obama for a third time if I could have!” When all your energy is going into denying and defending, you will have none left to go into reflecting and revising.
Campus Reform asked Cornelius to elaborate on her views, specifically whether or not only whites can be racist. She told the outlet that racism a “learned, internalized behavior that all white people develop” amid living with forces such as the media and criminal justice system — and that such forces should be resisted.
In addition, Campus Reform reported that Cornelius said non-white Americans cannot be racist since racism requires power, which is held by and large by whites.