The White Center

black and white image of lamp turned toward a wall creating a white spotlight``

Nearly everything in the United States is centered around white people and being white.  White people being at the center means that white norms are most commonly accepted while other norms such as African American norms are frowned upon.  Everything is measured against whiteness because it is at the very center of racism and American society as a whole. White people have established that being white is good while being black is not, both consciously and subconsciously.  Close your eyes and imagine the most beautiful man or woman in the world.  What did he/she look like?  Was he/she white?  The answer is more often than not yes, he/she is white.  White people standardize whiteness and measure everything else against it.  To standardize whiteness means actions performed by white people are considered “normal,” this is one reason why people have felt okay to express racist attitudes in the recent past.  It also means that white people are the center of many statistics and psychological studies.  Ironically, even this blog post is centered around whiteness and being white.  This post calls for white people to recognize how they center themselves and more often than not don’t take other perspectives such as those of people of color.  Whiteness should not be the standard but it is and has been for hundreds of years in the United States.  People should measure themselves against who they were yesterday so that they are able to grow and become better, more compassionate people.  White people will not be able to do this until they let go of the narcissistic ideal that being white makes you above those who are not white.  However this task is not easy.  The idea of white being above everything else has been etched into history through the actions of white people.  They were able to create labels for people who did not fit into the white norm.  What is the first step a white person can take to decenter themselves and their whiteness?

Reference: Lassiter, J. (2014).  Whiteness in the Psychological Imagination

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