How was this term even coined? Who conceived the notion that an entire race of people are born with a sense of guilt? I’m not entirely sure. But after doing my thorough and extensive research*, I found a definition to help all of us out.
White Guilt: A concept of individual or collective guilt often said to be felt by some white people for the racist treatment of people of color by whites both historically and presently
In the City of Portland everyone is white, and therefore white guilt exists almost everywhere. You’ll find off-handed inappropriate comments about your Mexican friends love for burritos aren’t well received by white people within hearing range. This also applies to the killer Asian impression were you use R’s instead of L’s upon discussing how great rice is. In fact, white guilt is so rampant in Portland, that you may be deemed racist for using this type of humor.
Approaching a white person about their views on racism will usually invoke this general response, “Racism is horrible. I don’t know why people are racist”. They won’t be able to offer any great detail or clarity on historical examples. From their experiences growing up, Portland white children have been taught (in private schooling of course) that white people are responsible for some of the worst race crimes in American history. Since Portland is full of white people, these children don’t create the necessary commentary to build dialogue with minorities. So, their ignorance towards the minority experience leaves the guilt to grow- a sense of culpability for their ancestors past transgressions towards minorities. Now they have to be super fake nice to minorities and are generally afraid that blacks, native Americans, native Hawaiians, Latinos and the Japanese hate white people.
However, all this does is create a communication breakdown among Portland city proper. The affects of white guilt have prevented rapid development in race relations. Let’s just try to open up communication with our fellow brother/sister so we can avoid situations similiar to this NE Portland neighborhood meeting:
At one point, she (a white woman) also asked blacks what she should call them – blacks or African-Americans.
An older black woman in the front replied, “People.”
Another black woman, toward the back, said, “Donna.” 1
*Wikipedia… which we all know is a webpage of facts
1. New York Times: Racial Shift in a Progressive City Spurs Talks