“I am not a racist” but I have thoughts I am told are racist: But…I don’t SEE color!”

Georgia NeSmith
10 min readMay 15, 2019

I wrote this piece in response to an ongoing discussion that a dear friend of mine has to deal with often. It is addressed to and written for one person, but it easily applies to all white people who still don’t get the idea of white privilege.

Dear GL —

Like many other white people, it seems you have a serious misunderstanding of privilege. The privilege about which Anita speaks is not just about not having enough money to live on. Wealthy black people experience racism, too. Wealth does not protect them from a cop deciding they are criminal — e.g., driving an expensive car in a white neighborhood gets them arrested. Also they are not immune from the impact of all the anti-black talk.

If you truly care about Anita and sincerely wish to understand her when she is talking about racism, you will give these two essays time, attention, and careful thought. I know both are quite lengthy and you probably don’t have the time to read them right now. That’s ok, so long as you commit to reading and thinking about these words when you are able to do so.

(My essay here, and Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” )

The link above is to the classic article on white privilege published by Peggy Mcintosh way back in 1990, called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.”

This article has been a staple of women studies and “minority” studies college courses for more than 30 years. When people talk about “white privilege,” this is where it all began.

The “Invisible Knapsack” lists 50 ways in which white people are privileged, most of which are unconscious. There is actually a much longer list, but 50 is certainly enough to start with!

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Please read it carefully and thoughtfully without defensiveness. It will help you understand Anita and others who have been trying to explain how race is a constant presence in their lives, not because they choose it, but because it is impossible to be a person of color living in…

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Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.