A Letter to the Editor: What Does It Mean To Be White?


Bravo, Nicola Bothwick!  I want to thank you for your discerning defense of the Black Lives Matter movement, and your clarification of the movement to redirect a portion of police funding into community development.  The Black Lives Matter ceremony and march last month in Manchester, inspired and led by your generation, gave me hope for this “almost exclusively white town.”  It is a great irony that the increased focus on Black lives has often worked to distract us Whites from our day-to-day, unaware, complicity in the racism we decry.  We are often unaware of the vast systemic privilege of being White, the discriminatory collusion of White silence, and the burden of White fear in contributing to our defensiveness and denial. Even capitalization of the labels “Black” and “White” escalates discomfort. 

What is it like to be White?  Huh?  Duh!  That was my initial response to the question. 

Nicola, I join you in your recommendation to educate ourselves. To that end, I suggest the book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo.  It’s an eye-opener and places the emphasis on our half of the dance that is racism. Or read the work of James Baldwin. To continually re-examine and challenge the racist attitudes I learned growing up White has been both stimulating and freeing.  As Ed Zaval said last week…"it’s a long road.”  Yes, but one well worth traveling.  

If you are White, is it a particularly good time to take a look in the mirror? 

Sheila Hill 

2 Running Ridge Row 

nicola, manchester, ed zaval, robin diangelo, sheila hill, james baldwin