Kivel+Costs+of+racism+to+whites - The Costs of Racism to...

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Copyright 2002 by Paul Kivel The Costs of Racism to White People 1 by Paul Kivel W E TEND TO THINK OF RACISM as a problem for people of color and something we should be concerned about for their sake. It is true that racism is devastating to them, and if we believe in justice, equality, and equal opportunity for all, then we should be trying to end it. As we saw in the last sections, racism does produce material benefits for white people. However, the costs of racism to white people are devastating, especially to those of us without the money and power to buffer their effects. They are not the same costs as the day-to-day violence, discrimination, and harassment that people of color have to deal with. Nevertheless, they are significant costs that we have been trained to ignore, deny, or rationalize away. They are costs that other white people, particularly those with wealth, make us pay in our daily lives. It is sobering for us as white people to talk together about what it really costs to maintain such a system of division and exploitation in our society. We may even find it difficult to recognize some of the core costs of being white in our society. For example, one of the costs of assimilating into white mainstream culture is that we are asked to leave behind the languages, foods, music, games, rituals, and expressions that our parents and/or grandparents used. We lose our own “white” cultures and histories. Sometimes this loss leads us to romanticize the richness of other cultures. We have been given a distorted and inaccurate picture of history and politics because the truth about racism has been excluded, the contributions of people of color left out, and the role of white people cleaned up and modified. We also lose the presence and contributions of people of color to our neighborhoods, schools, and relationships. We are given a false sense of superiority, a belief that we should be in control and in authority, and that people of color should be maids, servants, and gardeners and do the less valued work of our society. Our experiences are distorted, limited, and less rich the more they are exclusively or predominantly white.
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This note was uploaded on 02/05/2011 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Grindel during the Spring '11 term at UC Merced.

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Kivel+Costs+of+racism+to+whites - The Costs of Racism to...

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