Last night I went to a party. The party had mostly graduate art students attending CU. Most of these people were really great; funny, smart, creative etc. but what I couldn’t help but notice was this consistent guilt. What I would refer to as white shame. I heard countless people complain about how 'white' Boulder is, which would be fine and dandy except the people doing the complaining are all white. It seems to me that many educated white people have a guilty conscious about their privilege and try to make up for it by not accepting the whiteness of the town they live in. Boulder is 92% white according to the U.S. Census.
In a book called Learning to be White: Money, Race and God in America author Thandeka discusses this concept of how white parents, consciously or subconsciously make their white children pick between a love for them or being an outcast for associating with “the other” and of course, not wanting to lose their parent's love white children start rejecting, learning how to judge, and stay away from “people who are different” or people their parents do not find acceptable i.e. black people or Mexican or whomever is around that doesn’t fit the white privileged mold.
But I think it needs to be taken a bit further, because after being forced to choose then these white kids go to school and are told not to be racists. Then an underlying consciousness divide begins to happen where people start not really knowing what to do or think. Which is why I feel so many white people in Boulder don’t like the white people in Boulder.
They don’t like themselves because they know the oppressions their race has caused and they feel helpless and insecure in that fact. Yet, also safe in this type of environment that really hasn't allowed for a diversity of cultural/ethnic groups to intermingle (which sometimes can make for negative reactions). And then guilty because they feel safe.
If you’re an artist and you live in Boulder you should feel ecstatic. Yes. It’s white. Yes. It’s townies are middle/upper class. But seriously. You’re an artist and you’re trying to make a living. You’re not going to get very many people in the ghetto to support your work, buy your work or give a fuck about your art. They have more serious shit to deal with, like, I don’t know, feeding and sheltering themselves.
In the end, I find and believe that we all work as the oppressed and the oppressor at different times in our lives (and perhaps both at once in some situations).
It doesn’t matter the location it matters what one does with where one is.
No matter what race, class, sex, if one is able to work through the guilt and actually work on owning privilege while changing the oppressions that get us all down we will all be in a better place to reach our individual true potential.
And I believe that is what it all comes down—access to true and pure potential.
BTW this is a funny site if you haven't heard of it:
(This all is leading me to another theory about why Boulder people are so eco-conscious, white privilege and it’s necessity to be “above” and more “informed” than any one else; the be-better-than theory…I’ll get to this idea at another time.)