Should I Give Up on White People?

The racial hatred I experienced almost broke my spirit. But I found some light in the darkness.

Comments: 202

  1. I am sorry all of that happened to you, Professor Yancy. My aunt always says that if most people weren't good, we'd have all been gone a long time ago. I believe her. Most people are decent. Don't let the loudest voices be the ones that shape your perceptions. Things will get better.

  2. The wounds from racism has been a plague on American society since the very beginning. White America, hiding behind their institutions, especially religious, have not only stifled the hopes of people of color, but perpetuated the cycle of poverty and its ill effects. White Americans will then use these failures as weapons to criticize and justify their bias. The argument that ‘they don’t help themselves’ is weak when compared to the data. As a white male American it is clear to me that the deck has been heavily stacked against serious progress towards racial equality. And now, with our current president, we are regressing.
    However, I am still hopeful because there are many of us who will call out the racial hatred when we see it. Perhaps the backlash from Trump’s ignorance will inspire the next generation of privileged white Americans to be more capable of looking clearly in the mirror and seeing the truth so that we can acknowledge the mistakes of our parents and grandparents.
    Don’t give up the fight Sir, there is still hope. Keep pushing!

  3. What has changed in America over the last three decades is that it is now okay to openly express hate and bigotry -- thanks in large measure to fascist right-wing rhetoric and anger on talk radio. But we should also remember the statistical problems with our perception of reality; Who was it who said, "I do not remember the 95% of the voices who praised my performance; only the 5% who made mean and hurtful comments"?

  4. Spare us with canards like "most people are decent." We're all beasts capable of good and evil. We need to be encouraged to be decent. Dr. Yancy and identity politics always fail on that front.

  5. Like Sisyphus indeed. I have tried to understand even just a little, but know that I fall short. I have read Baldwin and James Cone (a very hard read for a white gal) and others. I understand the many ways that racism is institutionalized in our culture and in our laws. I can speak out, I can consider such matters when I vote.

    Yet, I often feel powerless in a large system (ironic, I know, given that I am white). I have often heard/read that "well intentioned" whites (I tend to include myself here) are the worst problem of all because we think we get it and we don't; we are supposed to "fix" things and we don't. That overwhelms me as it feels as if it calls me to more power than I have.

    I am appalled by the hatred and racism which you quote, but have been told often enough that I am no better - only more clever at hiding it. Yet, I am not hate-filled. I struggle with my own privilege (race, but also socio-economic), but feel that that is far from adequate. I know that it is not enough to "care," to reflect, or even to understand (however imperfectly). Speaking out matters; voting matters, how I treat others I encounter matters, but none of that is enough. What then?

  6. I can relate so much to this comment. I have checked my white privilege; it's still there. Now what? I can't receive absolution; it's my white fragility that seeks it. So disengage entirely? That's my route, the only one I've got left. Y'all woke critical race informed black people have a nice time in that righteous alienation; white friends will be here when you get back.

  7. Thanks for this question, Anne-Marie. It's very important and complicated. Unfortunately, most of the replies here are full of simple answers that would have already solved the problem a century ago if they were effective...but I do have one thought to add here.

    In my humble opinion, liberal white people have failed to do the one thing we must do if we sincerely want to begin the process of power sharing: we need to form our own collective identity. Now I know many whites are deeply afraid of such a process - after all, white "identity" has been usurped by the alt-right. Liberal whites have so far not begun the process of forging an alternative to "white nationalist" identity, and this lack of collective identity has put the entire liberal order in jeopardy (note the rise of the right around the world).

    As long as liberal whites resist forming their own collective identity, we will reinforce institutionalized racism in two ways: First, we will continue to think of ourselves as "normal." This sense of "normalcy" creates a situation in which everyone else must assimilate to us (as usual). And second, if liberal whites continue on the way we are without the clarity and established values of a collective identity, then we will never think of ourselves as "one among many" in a pluralistic society as every other identity must do in this country.

    America's playing field is composed of many groups, many identities, and it's time for white liberals to join the field.

  8. This is difficult because when many of us discuss racism we fail to make the distinction between systemic racism and individual racist acts. I don’t talk about racism much with White people now because the mere mention immediately becomes personal and defensive as though I’ve attacked their feelings. So it becomes about their defenses and not the issue.

    Racist acts are often bold and obvious. Racist beliefs or ideas are often hidden and subtle. It is firmly rooted in our nation’s history. When we all learn all the facts we will have a much more healthy discussion and more honest engagement in solving the problem. America cannot fix what it will not face.

  9. Thank you for having the courage to speak out. Sadly, too many of my race don't really know any African-Americans. They stereotype and make assumptions and don't recognize that inclination for the seedlings of hate that it is. I have been blessed in my life to have been exposed to and to embrace great diversity. I seek it out. I am uncomfortable in completely homogenous settings. Every culture has unique features that enrich life and bring joy. Yes, horrible atrocities have taken place and continue to unfold every day. We must never be silent, never. Have your students read Elie Wiesel's poem, "I Did Not Speak." Continue to tell the truth. I pray for you and your family.

  10. Thank you. I am listening. I am troubled to my very soul. And grateful for your insight.

  11. We are almost as hopeless as you. This is not the USA that I want either. And we are all one people.

    The concept of race is perpetuated by those in power to stay there. Don’t let them win, just like we shouldn’t give up on democracy because outside factors are creating in-fighting.

  12. The arc of the moral universe is long...
    When does it bend towards justice?

    Maybe not in a smooth arc, maybe in uneven bursts, much like an EKG, ground will be gained.

    Educators, writers and artists who are passionate about their subjects effect the most change. Perhaps it's time to change the word 'white' to the word 'mean'. Takes a long time to shift a mean person's attitude. There are many folks of every complexion in our society who are with you, Professor Yancy, working for a truly just, welcoming America, but are temporarily discouraged.

    Don't give up, every voice for justice makes a difference!

  13. Let’s all stop judging people for being white or black. This is prejudice from any side. “Mean” is a good word for this behavior. So too are confused, scared, ignorant, and greedy.

  14. When I learned recently of the two gentlemen arrested for being black in Starbucks, I felt a sword through my heart. I asked my daughter if our society is getting worse, or has it always been thus and just now receiving press. She gave me some hopeful words: it has always been so, but now our society is sitting up and taking notice, the first steps to change.
    Please please please do not give up on white America - we are here with you, as ONE race. (Just with varying shades of yellow) Help us call out racism, and thank you for your eloquence.

  15. Professor Yancy,

    Thank you for your article and for stating what happened to you through letters, emails and other communications that you've received. It is important for all folks in our society to read and understand what you have experienced and are feeling.

    Speaking as a white person, based on my conversations with my white relatives, friends, and colleagues, I don't believe the points made in those messages reflects what many, and dare I say most, white people believe. However, I don't really know what is in the hearts of my friends and relatives. People generally do not talk about their prejudices since that can result in them getting into a heated debate with someone with the likely result in them ultimately losing that battle.

    What I've learned over time is that we all need to work more and spend more time with others who look different than us. For through those experiences we will better understand others, and better understand how similar we are to each other in terms of day to day worries, stresses, concerns, likes and dislikes. And over time we will better understand how more alike than different we all are.

    Thanks again for your willingness to openly share your experiences with us.

  16. Ed: As someone who has lived in the south for more than 30 years,I can assure you we are living in a very racist country. The things I hear from my fellow white people makes me ashamed to be white.

  17. The moral stain and legacy of slavery are still with us. While we may make legal advances that sometimes protect the rights of African-Americans, the horrific rise in overt racism that has accompanied Trumpism is depressing to the core. When black men are shot for having having a cell phone in their hands, as a society we fail. When black professors get obscene death threats for writing thought provoking essays, as a society we fail. When the President of the United States finds moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and counter-protestors, as a society we fail.

    Thank you for your work and writings, Professor Yancy. We need you.

  18. Excuse me, but no one was "shot for having a cell phone in their hands". They were shot because an officer felt them to be a credible threat to his/her own life or someone else's life, and because the cell phone carrying person chose not to obey the officer's verbal instructions.

  19. I agree with your post except I would add to slavery the more recent moral stain of Jim Crow laws that were only fully repealed in 1968 and that still cloud our socio-cultural eyes (you're black if there is the slightest hint of African heritage in your features -- except if you're a major contributor to so called Western Civilization as Beethoven and Pushkin were (and so many others, like Empress Josephine, and Alexandre Dumas, etc.). In those cases we dont see the so called "black features"....

    I join your thanks to Professor Yancy.....

  20. I guess we will chalk this one up as humanities people don't do math. All white people? The whole nation? You wrote something inflammatory that was racist (If you don't get writing a letter to "white people" is racist, I suggest checking your black privilege.) and got a response from hundreds of people who took offense. I did not write you, but I did make a comment. You did not bother to even think about it. You write in terms of "we" and "they" and want better things to happen than group think. Your arguments are damaged. I have a solution to your problem: leave. Unlike totalitarian countries and under slavery, you are free. Please exercise that freedom and leave the conversation about race to those of good will and good faith.

  21. It's difficult for white people in America to understand just how privileged they are to have been born white & in the USA. I say this as an old, white person who realized long ago how fortunate I was. You have not come to terms with that yet.

    There have been many occasions when I have sat in a cafe or restaurant waiting for a friend -ordering nothing - and I have never, ever been asked to leave. Please think about this when you ask Professor Yancy to "leave".

  22. Dear Liberal,
    While I also disagreed with Mr. Yancy's tone and how he refers to "White America" as a monolitic entity, I am shocked and saddened by your response. No one, regardless of their beliefs, deserves death threats or slurs against their race. And no one deserves to be told to "leave" the country where they were born because they disagree with you.

    Mr. Yancy's tone was patronizing, but the hate he faces is real. If you can, please try to feel some sympathy for him.

  23. You have no good faith or good will, as is evident from your comment. I can see it and I'm white.

  24. THANK YOU for your selfless work to help individual Americans to understand, and help America to become true to its promise of equality and freedom.

  25. I am grateful for your life and witness, Professor Yancy and proudly stand with you.

  26. This title could be flipped to be Should I Give Up on Black People? It is learned behavior on both sides that may come from the home or personal experience. I grew up in the Bronx in the '60s and went to CCNY in Harlem. I learned to be very careful when I saw black people. I was hit on the knees with pipes (my children) to drop my school bag; shoved down the subway steps to grab my handbag; threatened with a knife for my wallet; followed too closely by young men taunting me; my father was robbed in his office and tied to a chair; my mother was scared to walk home from the subway after dark; doors were triple locked with police locks; we had our fathers and brothers sitting in the hall with baseball bats guarding the lobby at night - the list goes on and on. I was taught to keep tokens and ten dollars in my pockets in case I was mugged; to never walk an empty street; to never be out at night; to stay in a group; to always lock the car doors - again the list goes on. This is a two way street. I have seen huge change and improvement on both sides in the next generation. We have to work together to make interaction comfortable through mutual respect.

  27. There is no doubt in my mind that had Barak Obama been white, Merrick Garland would be sitting on the bench of SCOTUS. Mitch McConell’s refusal to to consider and Trump’s admonition to “delay “ were allowed only because it was possible to de-legitimize or belittle the sitting president. Racism has little to do with muggings. They could be perpetrated by any manner of colour. Racism in the USA, I believe , is systemic and instutionalized. It is meant to insulate groups from one another.

  28. It's really interesting that white people always point to fear of black crime to justify views of ALL black people.

    I took the author to mean, should I give up on the idea of having an adult conversation with the average white person about race? Not should I give up on trying to convert KKK members? No one is saying the average white person has the violent hatred of the KKK. But to most blacks, the KKK isn't the problem, it is the average, everyday white person who refuses to see and call out blatant racist behavior that is the real problem. It's not rednecks and men in sheets, who most blacks can largely avoid... just like most whites are not daily accosted by the criminal element in the black community, no matter what they say.

    There are always going to be antisocial people of every race. And we do need to talk about that honestly as well. What many blacks are tired of is the supposedly decent white majority ignoring, denying, making excuses for the ongoing effects of racism that black people endure largely without complaint.

  29. @Christopher and others who are obviously clueless about crime in NYC during the 60's- 90's. WHITE people were targeted by minorities because they often had slightly more money, small but viable mom and pop business and often didn't fight back. I've had more than a few black acquaintances that explicitly told me when younger and "runin' wild' they targeted white people for muggings because they gave up money easier.

    Much has changed in NYC and the world to where people here are commenting that "me" was viewing it through a racial lense. It was just a fact - white "minority" groups jewish. Irish, Italian etc were often targeted by minorities in changing neighborhoods with older people being frequent targets. It was a fact of life. People who are stating that first or second generation white immigrants (many who didn't speak english) were still in a position of "power authority" - yeah whatever. The only authority they often had was as the poster said - to patrol their blocks with bats - the cops/firefighters wouldn't come to these neighborhoods

  30. I am tied to the mast with eyes and ears open. I may not already know, but I am bound to witness.

  31. If I were a black American instead of a white American I would be angry ALL the time. I have been aware of that since I was a teenager. As an adult, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that it is true because for years I taught in a public school system in a severely segregated city -- a school system that was integrated by court-ordered busing. Maybe it helped that I had been brought up as a poor kid myself. (It takes only a glimpse of a "ALL lives matter" sign to trigger me.) Dr. Yancy's anger is appropriate and I wish with all my heart that it wasn't.

  32. So, all lives don't matter?

  33. When I was in the 4th grade, I took a public bus every day from my home (in the very cheapest part of Beverly Hills, CA) to the UCLA campus where I attended the University Elementary School, an experimental school for the college of Education. There were many black women riding that bus, on the way to daily domestic jobs in the homes of the rich. I chatted with those women and regarded them as my friends. One rare morning, there were some empty seats near the front of the bus. I sat down and invited my friend to sit down next to me. She told me she was not allowed to sit in the front of the bus but could only sit in the back. (I don't know if that was real or just her belief.) I told her that if she could not sit in the front then I would not sit there either. So we walked together to the back and sat down there together. That's the way I was raised and I'm nominally white (Eastern European Jew - 1st generation American.) I do hope Professor Yancy doesn't give up on me or the people who are like me; even in the minority as we are.

  34. Hear, hear, ritaina. I too wonder how POC don't hate all white Americans. There is no way we can ever do penance. White allyship is both essential and insufficient.

  35. Dr. Yancy, apart from the hate mail you cite, there were several civil points raised in response to your original post in the Stone. I would be interested in you taking up some of those observations in a future post. As for me, I agree we must address a national legacy of structural racism. I also think humans form views about each other based on identifiable characteristics such as race. In many cases, these views are ill-founded. We all have work to do, no?

  36. Yes, we whites have work to do. But to call the author out on so-called reverse racism is to ignore the historical context and societal facts of the case.

  37. If Dr. Yancy is genuinely interested in changing the hearts and minds of "White America" (consider me skeptical that such a cultural monolith even exists), why persist with the inflammatory headlines? I'm sure that "Should I Give Up on White People," like "Dear White America" before it, will be widely shared and generate plenty of web traffic for the New York Times; I'm equally sure it will inspire lots of solemn-yet-glowing adulation on Twitter from vocally liberal whites hoping to burnish their woke credentials. But I'm genuinely confused: deep down, does Dr. Yancy still think this is the rhetorical technique best suited to convincing a skeptical, or even a hostile, audience of white readers of the righteousness of his argument?

  38. Asking nicely has not been working. How much longer do you think the black community should cast around for the "right rhetorical technique"? Do you not think that every technique under the sun has been tried, and still nothing is working? Can you not feel the pain and vulnerability and frustration coming through Yancy's writing?

    When I read the headline I knew it was not going to be some hate-filled, aggressive piece, but rather an honest, vulnerable and open-hearted discussion of an idea not arrived at lightly. After all, the title is not "I'm Giving Up on White People", it is "Should I Give Up on White People?" It's an examination of frustration and fear. After years and years of trying to get someone to understand what you're really going through and having it fail then yes, sometimes one feels like giving up. It is a very human reaction.

  39. So, Michael, what would you suggest the Yancies of our society do instead? That is OUR PROBLEM — not just Dr. Yancy’s.

  40. What should he say to get our attention, instead?

  41. I am a 73-year-old white woman. I am profoundly ashamed of the violence that white Americans have inflicted on blacks and native Americans throughout our history. I am outraged at the hatred leveled at black citizens and at the willingness of America to put up with the racial injustices of our legal system. I want an America where people realize that extending the good to all people enhances the good of all. I know I must keep working on myself to gain more awareness of the extent of my own and others' complicity but I am trying. There are many people like me. Please don't give up on all of us.

  42. "We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies." Martin Luther King, Jr.

  43. I didn't do any of that and I will not apologize for it.

  44. Sir, There is an emotion called empathy. Many of us White Americans have the capacity for empathy. Do you realize this?

    While your ability to write is lovely and your feeling obviously deeply held, sincere, you do harm to the cause you and many hold dearly by writing what is in your head. Simply put you are alienating people who agree with many of your sentiments.

    I don’t know what to say about your opinion piece.I am willing to discuss race with anyone, and I have. I am 65 years old and grew up close to the South, spent some time there. I’ve seen Jim Crow. I’ve had the feeling of empathy and I fought Jim Crow when I was old enough to fight.

    I will continue to fight.

  45. You are apparently not willing to hear what someone else has to say about race. His experience is not yours, and it is uncomfortable to hear about it. Why? Are you actually doing anything with your empathy now? Are you putting your money where your mouth is? I suggest that's where discomfort is better placed.

  46. White Fragility : "Your pain and anger puts me off; ask nicely and then we'll see." If we whites' discomfort with witnessing the deep pain and fury that comes from centuries of harm, causes us to turn away, we can only blame our own inadequate hearts that we feel "alienated."

  47. The collective empathy for others is not present in the USA or our society would operate quite differently.

  48. "White" and "Black" have reached
    the level of racism by classifying billions of people with two simple and blunt terms. The author's grievance is sad to hear and a reflection of his experience and
    millions of other Americans as well.

    But it remains too blunt and perhaps too narrow.

    Those whose are "the other of their times or their locale" have endured every manner of dehumanization from name calling to murder. It is
    the way of the world and it takes all
    of us to stand up and fight it by treating each other with respect.
    Sadly it is not unique to this author.

  49. Thanks, Dr. Yancy. I was taken by your term, 'white innocence.' As a mainly Scots-Irish American here in Western PA, 'Trump Country' at the moment, I run into it all the time. I make it my business to tell the truth about white supremacy in my political organizing as well as daily life. I try to explain how it holds all of us around here down, though some more so than others. The white-skin privilege is not in the class interest of any worker of any color, any more than the worm on the hook is in the interest of the fish.

    When that message starts cracks in the current hegemony, the first glue to come to the rescue is 'white innocence' , "Yeah, all that is true, but neither I nor my family had anything to do with it. We have worked hard and suffered ourselves (true), so there's nothing about this privilege that applies to us. Blacks should just learn it's time to move on."

    At this point I have a different task. I have to draw out from them what it means to be a public citizen (the kind that really counts) and to ask them what it means to be part of the human race, the on'y race that exists in their DNA. The mass delusion, you see, is all these folks thinking they're 'white', and we have to do some deconstruction work.

  50. I am a white woman, in my late sixties, and raised by parents who came out of Mississippi. I have fought my whole life to eradicate the racist influence which was inherent in my upbringing.

    I don't deserve any praise for my battles because they are my obligation, as an American and a human being. I write this only to let you know, Professor Yancy, that some of us, a lot of us, I hope, are making a sincere and loving effort to be better and to rise above the unchosen circumstances of our formative years.

    I am dreadfully sorry that this is where we are, and that the worst among us now feel recently emboldened to freely express their hatred and ignorance.

  51. Unfortunately, no one can legislate that people like each other, racially or otherwise. Sadly there is a lot of racism in the world. It’s not limited to this country. We can only take heart that most people—as individuals—treat each other in a polite and civil manner. I’ve seen that time and again on the NYC subway system where all races get along and anyone will help another in need or give up a seat because it’s the right thing to do. Live your individual life with love in your heart. That’s the only answer.

  52. We have law on the books that promotes fair housing and our government chooses not to enforce those laws. It is a matter of law and it is a matter of justice, and our society is knowingly braking the law and continuing to wage war against black America.

  53. I find it incredibly tragic that you have become disillusioned with an entire group of people because of a vocal minority. I know it can honestly seem like they make up the majority, because they are the loudest and the most vitriolic, and thus the most likely to respond, and the most likely to stick out in your mind.
    It's important to remember that there are good people in the world, and they make up the majority.

  54. I agree. I'm Jewish and if I thought for one second all non-Jews thought of me the way they comment about us on the internet I would be leaving for Israel tomorrow. All whites are not responsible for what some are saying/doing, the same way all people are not responsible for the anti-semitism of a few. Our responsibility as people is to stand up against racism of any kind.

  55. There are lots of Good White People who revile the vocal extreme racist. But we aren't doing enough to uncover in our hearts how insidiously racism is woven into our laws, customs, and implicit biases. Whites who see themselves as innocent and "the good ones" are the majority, and it is this majority that allows the implicit racism to continue.

  56. A vitriolic minority + indifference by the majority = significant harm

  57. Ida B. Wells put lynchings in print, so people had to look. Emmett Tills' mother put pictures out there, so people had to look. Camera video puts pictures out there, so people have to look. Your column puts the words out there, so people have to look.
    Vile hatred lives and flourishes in dark corners. Please continue to expose it with thoughtful, well organized writing.
    I am white, graduated from high school in Memphis within weeks of Dr. King's assassination. The world has changed, the arc has moved, not far enough, not fast enough, but it still is moving.
    Every person who wants it to move must just push a little harder.

  58. I have struggled with the same questions. In reading the comments I realize others do to but some of you have a much longer path to enlightenment.

  59. Dr. Yancy, your columns over the past years in dialogue with contemporary philosophers writing about racism have found their way into my own classrooms as important teaching tools. Your courage in providing public space in this paper for honest, difficult discussions of the most important issue facing this country (and the one on which it was founded) exemplifies 'philosophy,' in my view.

    As a white woman who tries to use my privilege to stand up for the principles I share with you, and to help amplify the voices of those challenging racism and the other systems of oppression that tear at the fabric of our society, I hope you will not give up. Please don't give up on your students, your readers, and all who struggle with you, regardless of color, to tear down the foundations of racism that prevent our country from actually practicing democracy. No one should feel threatened for speaking truth and I am ashamed that you have been subjected to such hateful threats, ashamed every day when I read yet another piece about the dehumanizing faced by people of color. I take that shame, acknowledge my contribution as a white person who has benefited from this system, and use it to speak out and help my students see the corrosive impact racism has had and continues to have on our country and world. You are reaching many with your testimonies of compassion and human dignity; you are not alone.

  60. Jeanette, for god's sake PLEASE don't poison your student's minds with the belief that the majority of Americans are racists. Instead, study and teach the causes/solutions of racism. Racism isn't innate. It begins by any coherent, politically powerful minority, which doesn't fully integrate with the majority. It applies to the Jews reluctance to intermarry and/or to the first Chinese immigrants to the Philippines. W.E.B. DuBois achieved needed political power, but it has led to some unintended consequences..possibly to 75% of fatherless black children. Study Jeanette then teach-- not the other way around.

  61. Dr. Yancy I wish I could make up for all of the horrors you and other black Americans have suffered. As a white American I feel deeply sad not only about the racism in this country, but because I want to scream out - please don't blame me or hate me - I'm on your side! When I was growing up, and going to the Unitarian Universalist Church, the message we heard was very different from today. We were taught the ideas of community, tolerance and respect. We were told that all people had the inherent right to be treated with dignity. That's what I still believe. That's why I will do whatever I can to help you in your fight against the ever present ignorance and fear that create hatred and racism.

  62. I am 60, and a white male. In college and in the Army, I met and became friends with many black men. I grew up poor, so I didn't feel the white privilege as much as other white people. But clearly the wind was at my back, but not the same for my African brothers. I eventually became part of the 1% club, but it still took me some time to realize hard work and persistence weren't enough for people who didn't look like me. Nowadays, I try to understand and correct institutional racism wherever I can. Through recruiting, training, mentoring, friendship, and providing good jobs.

  63. ‘The wind was at my back’ is a perfect way to describe the systemic advantages some people have over others.

  64. Thank you.

  65. No, don’t give up. Don’t ever give up! Eventually all will be reintegrated into an amazing new tapestry.

  66. I have never commented on anything before but I am moved to say thank you. I am white and I am reading your words and trying so hard to hear every single one. I promise to keep trying. It would be understandable if you gave up on us, but I hope you don’t. Thank you for your gifts.

  67. Great editorial. I beg regular Times Editorial Staff to learn from it. I have never been able to comprehend how or why many liberals are afraid to decry racism as the single greatest problem in America. I am not referring to institutional racism, or white liberal racism but a deeply held hatred that lies in the hearts of half or more of all Americans, a hatred instilled in them when they are young. That hatred produced Trump. It came within a hair of electing Roy Moore. How do we deal with the issue? Ultimately, I fear that countless generations must come and go before real change occurs. In the interim, we most force what little change is possible at the polls. Elect legislators who will force change and appoint judges who will enforce change.

  68. It's more about fear than hate, but the practice in America is for each little grievance group to hole up in their own individual silo. We are then free to demonize the other. Most people of whatever race,color,creed, are decent people. We need to quit punishing the group for the sins of the individual.

  69. One step forward electing Obama, two (well really 10) steps back electing trump.

  70. Climate change, overpopulation, the mass species extinction underway, the Nuclear War threat, income inequality, Worker’s Rights, the development of antibiotic resisant organisms, etc. Racism is not the “single greatest problem in America.”

  71. Professor Yancy, disclosing your vulnerability and despair is courageous. Thank you for the ever-so-generous gift of your witness. The stain of slavery will not be cleansed from our nation's soul any time soon, and your essay shows us how deep and violent is the wound that exposes it.

  72. As a white American man, I feel my heart broken open reading this, Professor Yancy. I don't want to respond intellectually at the moment but to just sit with your honest, raw experience and feel what it must be like to be in your shoes and those of all African Americans throughout history. Thank you for this oped piece, it really hit me this morning

  73. Thank you for a glimpse of your book. Most white people are not aware of how virulent racism is among a small segment of the white population, because too often these folks are careful to hide themselves, exposing themselves only to their victims. However they are a large enough group to cause significant damage among the the African-American population. It is also true that all white people who grew up in America suffer from implicit bias even if they don't fall into the virulent racist category. How else can you explain the persistent blindness of the white population to the scarring effects of racism?

  74. That took real courage to recount acts of racism by nameless people. I didn’t see the name of anybody. If I was treated like that I would name them all.

  75. Terrence, this is a really good point. When I (a white person) was in high school (black and white minority, hispanic majority), I made friends with a new girl (also white), and after returning to the school from an after-school field trip, we were both jumped and beaten up by some of the black students. What I didn't know until then was that this new friend was virulently never even occurred to me to find out because I had been raised in a family that had friends of all races. Racism wasn't a part of my life and it never occurred to me that someone I had befriended would be any different. Suffice it to say, I never spoke to that girl again.

    White girl, clueless about racism because I was never subjected to it and no one I knew was racist. The first part of this statement is no longer true.

  76. Am I the only one getting tired of being told I owe somebody or that I should feel bad for who I am? I was born the same as anybody. I will never lend a hand to anyone who blames me for their problems. Self determination and hard work got me where I am today and it will get me where I am going tomorrow, period.

  77. If you were down and I was there and able I would happily give you a hand up with no thought of your prejudices and I would hope you would do the same for another.

  78. Thing is you were not born the same as everyone else. It’s not an even field from the get go. Educate yourself. Most of us with white privilege can barely begin to comprehend the daily indignities inflicted upon people of color in this country. I saw it when dating an African-American man - experienced the sheer hatred from some people in public who were apparently deeply offended to see a white woman dating a black man. I saw it when he couldn’t hail a cab on the street, but I could. In a myriad of small ways I began to see how challenging it was. We need to do better. (By the way - I also see an alarming amount of anti-semitism too.)

  79. You sound like you're afraid of getting your identity erased. Why does thinking about race make you defensive? What are you defending?

  80. My white son goes to a school which is a majority color children. We have become part of the community by erasing the superficial differences with the people we see and know every day. We did this by getting to know people as friends, not black friends, fellow parents, not Hispanic parents, volunteers, not white volunteers. My son and I stayed open and positive. Please don't give up on whites. While the statistics paint a bleak picture of institutional prejudice, there is no way to know what an individual man or woman truly feels when you close your heart to them. I honestly feel that neither my son nor I am special. We are the norm and together with people of color, open-minded whites can melt away prejudice.

  81. Your son is lucky. However, even between friends, "superficial" differences can't be erased. The white friend retains white privilege in society, and the non-white friend will likely harbor a sliver of doubt about their Good White Friend, because of history. I believe that seemingly superficial racial difference can't be erased like chalk on a chalk board, because the effects of those differences permeate every aspect of one's experience. We white people need to take care not slip into "I don't see color."

  82. As someone who has seen his share of racism over the years (though from an Asian, not black, perspective), I would answer the question you pose with an emphatic No. While individuals, because of their actions, may merit shunning, I would say never give up on (a) people because of who they are. That path lies where too many are trying to take us of late. Thank you Prof. Yancy for writing this and allowing us who have read your words the opportunity to consider them.

  83. As you can see from some of the comments submitted we still have a need in America to keep a national conversation on rascism alive, and civil. Gordon Allport’s book, “The Nature of Prejudice,” I think is still relevant today, and may just give us the vocabulary we need in learning to talk with and understand each other. Thank you Dr. Yancy for your contributions and continued participation in the American dialogue on racism.

  84. But racism is more than prejudice.

  85. I find just a little irony in a member of the ivory tower of academia, enjoying its creature comforts, sounding a siren call over someone else’s privilege.

    Racism is just another topic area of violent communication. Rosenberg’s work on violent and nonviolent communication is critical to understanding the motivation behind the threats you receive. And had I not read his work, I may have misinterpreted you as well.

    Violent communication begets more of the same, regardless of who started the conversation. It takes nonviolent communication to obtain what we truly need.

  86. How much more work does America need to do to 'understand the motivation behind the threats"?

    The author in NO WAY advocates for violent communication; his is the very epitome of reason.

    Racism is 'just another topic area' if you aren't black. You lump academics into a cliche of ivory tower privilege with that exact same patronizing tone.

    Why is it so critical to keep pondering racism's ugly ugly stain and call that enough?

  87. Did you read the OPED? The authors is talking directly about his own experiences, receiving multiple threats of murder. And you suggest that he does not have skin in the game and fall back on that oldie but goodie - false equivalency. The correct response to violence is the rule of law, and until we are all protected equally, all of us who allow this injustice are guilty. In the end you blame the victim, he responsible for the hate full invective because he was not nice enough to the people who want to kill him.

  88. Nonviolent communication is most definitely a powerful and healing tool. I appreciate you for raising the topic but, with all due respect, your comment does not feel like an example of nonviolence.

  89. It is a sad statement that, as a species, we can’t seem to resist dividing ourselves when all that a human being wants is to live a dignified life as one sees fit. Not surprisingly that is a very common definition across all lines. Across every culture we have been taught to stay with “our own kind”, but that teaching is steadily being overridden by people falling in love or befriending or socializing with “the other”. This is a good trend that will continue and which will win the battle against the bigots who want to keep us all separated. I’m glad you haven’t given up despite the difficulty of enduring the daily paper cuts of indignity. Love does, in fact, conquer all and it will conquer this too. Keep the faith and keep strong, you are fighting the good fight.

  90. I am in tears but at a loss for words. Thank you for sharing. Buying your book right now. Sending love and compassion. Please don't give up. Your students are blessed.

  91. I am stepping into the water with you, recognizing that I will spend the rest of my life learning to swim. I am both scared AND all in.

  92. Your words are beautiful and powerful

  93. Yours, are the most eloquent of responses to this topic I have ever read. Thank you.

  94. As a white male, I obviously don't know what it's like to be black, nor do I know what it's like to be a woman. I'm not particularly well off, nor do I live in a very nice place, although it suffices. As a music teacher, I try to make a difference in the lives of my students by helping them to become better musicians, and I find this work very rewarding. The point is, I don't feel that I need to look at everything all around me all the time, and react to the injustices that I see and hear about far away. Of course, if something happens right in front of me, that's different. You talk about giving up on white people. But in your day to day life, in your day to day interactions with people of all colors, is your experience that every white person you deal with treats you badly? I really wonder about that. And if not, if many white people you interact with actually treat you decently, as of course they should, then where does this "giving up on white people" idea come from?

  95. White fragility: Not All White People, Hurt White Feelings

  96. You ask if every white person treats him badly. Nearly every white person treats him differently due to implicit and explicit bias. There may be less eye contact, clutching of purses, furtive fearful looks, being followed by store security, less attention in conversation and more interruptions, etc. etc. etc.
    Take the test:
    Those of us who know of our biases and try to recognize and eliminate them need more advice on further steps. I swim in the same water but at a distance. For decades I have immersed myself intentionally in work among and for people of color but sadly haven't made the leap to deep friendship. My feeling is why would someone want friendship with a old privileged biased white woman and so I don't push further.

  97. I believe it comes from all the death threats and hate mail he has received.

  98. You ever hear the adage two wrongs don't make a right?

    There was an incident in Philadelphia this past week in which two black men were arrested for no good reason. You know who alerted the world about it? A white woman. You know who stood up for them in the moment? A white man. Should you give up on them?

    I think we have to reframe the issue of racism. It is not about people being good or bad--it's about power imbalance predicated on external factors. Those factors can include race, but also encompass gender, orientation etc. In other words, victims of this power imbalance come in many flavors. The question really is--what can we do to eradicate this imbalance?

    You could argue education etc, but we all know that's not accurate. All the education and grit in the world cannot change the imbalance alone. To do that, we need to call out the dynamic when we see it at work as to make all aware of it. It is the only cure.

    You see an incident of racism? Speak out. Shine a light. You see an incident of sexism, homophobia, fat shaming, transphobia? Same.

    That requires MORE OF US in the boat, not less.

    The problem with your approach is that you would kick people out of your boat for external factors, regardless of the fact many of us are on your side, fighting the same fight.

    How about this? Judge us not by the color of our skin and call upon us all to do same. Let's demand together, jointly, wholly for social justice and let's be the change we seek.

  99. The incident in Philly is a perfect example of Prof. Yancy’s issue. The two gentlemen were waiting for a friend. They were not “trespassing”, it is a public cafe, for goodness sake! They had the audacity to ask to use the restroom; but when they were refused, they just sat down. Had they been white, no one would have questioned them; the police would not have been called; there would have been no incident. It is not too much to ask, that black customers be assumed innocent! Especially when they are acting innocent!

  100. Did you read all the way to the end?

  101. To everyone remarking on the Starbucks arrests,

    I’m a middle aged white woman. I have often walked into Starbucks and other eateries and headed straight to the restroom first. NO ONE has ever stopped me or made an issue of it. Occasionally after visiting said restroom I realize I don’t have time to buy a coffee because the line is too long. NO ONE has ever demanded I make a purchase before leaving, or had security detain me, or had me arrested.

    These young men were arrested for being black. If they had been two white dudes waiting for the third person in their party to show NO ONE would have made an issue of it.

    Maybe, a case could be made for asking them or anyone to leave IF the place was crowded to make room for customers with purchased coffee and food. That was not the case. Cell phone videos show lots of open tables.

    Bias. Discrimination. Racism.

    Those were the deciding factors.

  102. Racism has always been an underlying theme in America’s social fabric, but manifested itself very differently for whites than blacks, which made it easier for white America to ignore. After all, we had a black president, right? And the racist things Uncle Joe said at Thanksgiving could safely be ignored, right? But the cloak of invisibility has been thrown back by the election of Donald Trump, which exposed the stunning breadth and depth of the hatred, bigotry and racism in America, and it’s denial, for all of us to see. When the mirror was held up, many of us reacted with horror at ourselves, our neighbors, and our society. Others reacted with even greater hatred toward the victims of this hatred. Fifty years after the civil rights movement, which I supported wholly, I’m discouraged, afraid and ashamed. But don’t give up professor. Someone must continue to speak these uncomfortable truths with eloquence and forthrightness, especially with so much injustice and so many lies to battle. Thank you for having the courage to hold this mirror up to us all. It’s clearly very, very heavy.

  103. There is a powerful call to action for all of us to dismantle systems that reinforce and support de facto and de jure white supremacy. As someone who is mixed race- Asian American and white- there are dynamics being a POC that are challenging for me; even so, I benefit uniquely from white privileged by virtue of “coding” white to others.

    This essay demonstrates that it should NOT be the task of POC to educate, persuade, or change the attitudes of white Americans. It is on all white Americans who feel devastated, sad, or concerned reading about the way this professor has been terrorized to go beyond sympathy, thoughts, and prayers, to say, “Enough.” It’s time for action.

    What does action look like on an individual scale if you are concerned, and you are white? I use my white privilege to educate white people who say and do things that are harmful. I do so one-to-one, and can level with them while being “credible” due to my privilege. I offer the compassion and love Dr. Yancy offers as well, but without the same risk to my mind, body, and spirit. The best thing? It works.

    White supremacy hurts ALL people. That’s what those hateful letters show- people in pain, consumed by hate. If you feel as disturbed as I do by the spiritual assault of someone who is literally doing the work, take time for thoughts and prayers- then move your feet into action.

  104. Thank you for the clear and practical response to Dr. Yancy's words. As a white woman who attempts to speak against the entrenched systems of injustice, racism and privilege, your words are a great reminder to stay strong in love and resist hopelessness. The arc of the moral universe IS long, and the problem can seem overwhelming and the pain too much some days, but Dr. Yancy's quote of James Baldwin reminds me to see all the ways change comes when people persist.

  105. This is very helpful and hopeful. Thank you.

  106. What de jure white supremacy?

  107. My sister was sexually attacked, permanently injured, by a man who'd mowed her lawn. He asked one day for a glass of water, and she'd invited him in out of the heat to give it to him. Her life would never be the same. Maybe I should tell you his race, maybe you think that would be relevant. I can say it was a terrible struggle for her to trust any man again. And for women, their fourth greatest risk of dying in youth is being killed by a man, often one they know, and even loved, a husband or boyfriend. But they may be attacked, raped, disfigured, by strangers too, like my sister was. I say that not to one-up this author at all, but to point out that my sister was a teacher, and continued in her life to love and teach and care for all the young people she could. She went beyond her pain and fear, and I do not blame those who might not be able to, having seen the damage as I did. It changed me, too. She did. So if you are tempted to blame whole groups of people because they look like those who hurt you, I hope you'll consider that you might look like someone who hurt someone, too. And you wouldn't want to be feared or avoided or hated for that.

  108. Well said, and very hard to say.

  109. I couldn't even finish reading the article, I am so Sad & tired of the feeling of swimming against the tide, I reach the point of sadly not even trying to be part of the racist division from both sides, I am still doing my part quietly because again on both side peoples are suffering, children are not living with their full potential, only because both side are taking advantage of the tragedy, they make a name for themselves writing books ,appearing on cable news and keep milking the tragedy while getting richer, you don't see all those leaders on both side working on making any progress for the next generation, they are to busy making sure the dark past stay alive, my therapist used to tell me there is not much you can do with the past except acknowledging it ,try to make sense of it , label it ,and move on.
    We are actually reaching the point where a lot of good peoples wanting to be part of the solution are giving up , seems like there is no solution and after decades of been pushed around,it is only natural to adopt an attitude of laissez faire, I really believe that this subject could be a good card for the next election.

  110. I am grateful to you for having the courage to persevere in the face of such vile attacks. I would just like to add my name to the legions of white people who have come to accept our responsibility for the treatment of black people, however much we would like to deny it. Please keep teaching! I for one will keep learning. Thank you.

  111. As a people (I mean as citizens of the United States of America), we are in great need of looking first and thoughtfully into our own mirrors.

    I consider myself a reasonable person of the live and let live variety. I'm not trying to be clever, or holier than thou or escape my own racist thoughts. They encroach on me. I count myself among those who need to look deeper; do better; speak out against such intimidations.

    While it's true we all have racist thoughts, what I don't understand is where such deep fear and hatred comes from. Why people feel so threatened by people of other races or religions that they feel compelled to make such threats, or worse, act on them.

    Articles like this are tough to read but necessary. I see so many good people out there. Your words and perspective are making a difference. Thank you for walking this most difficult walk for us and inviting us to join you.

  112. Thank you for, once again, being willing to put difficult words into print. Thank you for your witnessing. Your example of courage ought to be something we white people aspire to in examining the corrosiveness of our own whiteness and in acting on the difficult knowledge of it.

  113. Should I give up on men? I was shocked and continue to be shocked by the sexism displayed in the last election. Is it worth trying to address the issues and to try to get men to see their own unexamined sexism and privilege? It’s a question that cuts across all racial lines.

  114. I hope you keep informing us, sir. I sincerely appreciate the perspective.

  115. Thank you for sharing your pain, Mr. Yancy. I also wonder if I should give up on white people at times. I'm continually horrified by what I read in the news (particularly The Root: a great source for educating one's white self on the mind-boggling multitude of racist crimes going on in America. It is also a great source for white people to hear and understand black perspective, implicit bias, the racism inherent in being white). If there is any doubt that there are white people who become nauseous and enraged when another black child is shot by a white homeowner/police, when black men are arrested for merely existing, when black women are judged by any emotion they show, know that there are. But getting nauseous & enraged is not enough. I urge white people who recognize the blatant, systemic and implicit racism in our country to do something about it. Read, read, read. Talk to your white children about how they can knock on a stranger's door for directions and NOT get shot, but black children don't have that privilege. Talk to your elderly white parents "of a different generation" about how you will be on the right side of justice in today's civil rights movement. Question people who say "all lives matter," asking them why they are upset about the semantics of a slogan rather than upset about the racist crime people are protesting about. Join a local racial justice group, like SURJ or Black Lives Matter (and make your fight against racism about equality, and not about you).

  116. George,

    The broad answer to "Should I give up on White People" can be addressed this way (there could be other ways of course):

    Think of all the "White People" that have lent you a shoulder to lean on, whose back you have and those who have your back. Think of all the teachers, neighbors and friends who are Caucasian who have helped you motor along, even if only a little.

    Yes, many of us will never truly understand the agony and pain of those who suffer - for empathy is not quite the same as truly knowing what that suffering means.

    However, a majority of our lives are usually spent in the company of people who are good human beings. We tend to forget that because of the few that are indecent. Humans, in general, have a tendency to ignore the vast good due to singular instances of the ugly.

    There will be indecent Indian Hindus, Arab Muslims, Israeli Jews, Caucasian Christian Americans etc. For every indecent person there are also thousands that are wonderful within these same groups. Finding out how to spend our lives in the company of those people is how we fight this battle. Hope you find peace and convey that to your students.

  117. I once attended a lecture that attempted to shed light on the biological roots of racism. I found it very interesting. In short (though I won't do it justice with this summary):

    Ten thousand years ago, it made sense to be wary of strangers who wandered into your valley for the threat they might pose to you and your kin. This was especially true if they looked very different from you, indicating that they had traveled far and were therefore formidable. This means that deep inside our brain, there are evolutionary mechanisms of xenophobia. Scientific research has confirmed this in, for example, studies where little babies show a preference for faces that match their own skin color.

    This mechanism translates into discrimination and racism in our modern world and we see it everywhere. Wherever there is a minority, that group is on the receiving end of discrimination and racism. Whether it is African-Americans in the US, the Chinese in Malaysia or indeed the Whites in Zimbabwe.

    The conclusion of all this is that the xenophobic urges we carry around deep within our DNA can only be overcome by our intellect and our willingness to reach out to 'the other'. Familiarity destroys fear, friendliness destroys hatred.

    The good news is that we are all capable of reaching out. The sad news is that every generation will need to be taught to do this, because our evolutionary heritage isn't going away any time soon.

    We all have the responsibility to raise our children in this light.

  118. In my view discrimination is pervasive anywhere anytime (from my experience in Japan) and it has likely been acquired for survival in a world of conflicts; it is just a mirror image of favoritism. (Why do we have to cheer up our fellow Olympic athletes?) Racism is an acute form of it but nonetheless it is just one of them. So civility is a counterpart of racism; suppressing racism is what makes us civilized. Having a president mocking civility certainly would not help.

  119. Dr. Yancy,
    The hate mail you have received is disgusting and unforgivable. The hurt is has caused you and your family is unimaginable. When I lived up north, I thought my fellow light colored humans had a chance at redemption although I did see the many ways the system has set impossibly high barriers. I thought the system could be changed and the humans could be equal.

    Since moving down South, and the 2016 election, I am not sure that redemption is possible. The racism is more open but it has also opened my eyes to the more subtle forms of racism practiced elsewhere. There are churches on every corner but no Christianity in the conversation or actions. To be a person of color is to have to be hyperviligant, like a soldier in battle. You have to watch where you walk, how you drive, what you say, what store you go to and how you act - always. You are not free.

    I am prepared to be wounded and tied to the mast with you. I will lock arms with you, listen to you and continue trying to change hearts and minds but I am not always sure we are worth the effort.

  120. Dr. Yancy,
    Recently I was going to go in search of you, your having mentioned being blacklisted, and for this reader it was the beginning of the ban on writers.

    When moving to the countryside, a friend and colleague in the humanitarian community mentioned in passing that I would not be happy because most of my friends are Africans. The latter who have been in Red Zones, on mission in Southern Sudan and Afghanistan, also with a note of curiosity, have wondered whether they would be welcome in this neck-of-the-woods. They are the ones who have family in our big cities and they visit.

    Let me tell you, although my ancestors come from the South, this white American is not planning a visit to there without the company of an African friend.

    On a Monday morning like any other, the first call of the day was an anonymous one, threatening to kill my American Austrian boss, a public official, and his family, because of warfare taking place between The Mayor of New York at the time whose views on economics deferred from those of my supervisor who had once helped save The City from bankruptcy.

    Jesse Jackson visited him on a few occasions, and it was the cause of a smile to hear the two friends share a good laugh. The last funeral I attended was in Jamaica, N.Y. for a girl who died unexpectedly. Shannon was in the role of Nala in the Lion King and We all united, Black, White and Hispanic.

    Giving up on White or Black People is giving up on America. Carry on, Dr. Yancy.

  121. It is difficult to write a comment to this that doesn't sound pharisaical and self serving- if one looks hard enough there has been an element of racism in every white person I have known- even the most understanding and compassionate . Sometimes it takes the form of overcompensation and often it isn't acknowledged for the obvious reason that it contradicts that person's self image.

    Perhaps at this time in our history that is reason enough for optimism- many people don't turn away from the mirror completely. Sometimes they acknowledge their weakness, more often they flatter themselves with their progressive attitude, but in either case they know the moral imperatives of racial, gender relations, and sexual identity issues that they must try to live up to.

    Many of those you are describing in this essay are lost in hate fantasies generated by self-loathing, others likely have some past grievance that they attribute to the color of the person they believe harmed them. In any case they cannot be counted as representative. The real fight is to help the vast majority of sane white people come to the point where they see themselves clearly and others as individuals to be judged, if at all, based on how they live their lives in the circumstances they face.

  122. The threats you have received are disturbing and frightening to be sure. However, the implied "white privilege" and the question of giving up on white people is part of the problem. My father drove a New York City taxicab for 20 years. He was held up three times with guns and knives. Thankfully, they "only" took his money and once his cab, not his life. All three times the perpetrators were black. Still, I do not bear prejudice against an entire race. I'm not sure you are saying the same. And that prejudice has no place in a college classroom. I am an American, first generation, daughter of immigrants from Europe. However, I do not classify myself as European-American. Just American. And darn proud of it!

  123. Those of us of European descent have the privilege (there’s that word again...) of choosing to classify ourselves as “just American” because we’re not asked in a regular basis “Where are you from?” (implying that we are not “real Americans”). The author’s example of the letters he received that called on him to “go back to Africa”) are a case in point. I have been insulted and threatened in many ways in my life but no one has ever questioned my right to be in this country.

  124. If one reads the comments page for the previous essay, "Dear White America," one will see hundreds of thoughtful, respectful, probing responses. Dr. Yancy doesn't bother to engage with those ideas. Instead he sifts through the detritus to find only the most hateful comments and uses those to fashion himself as a martyr.

    I have to say that I hope Dr. Yancy does give up on "white people." Not because racism doesn't exists. Not because there aren't systemic forces at play that harm black people. But because he is doing such a horrendous job of engaging with the people he seeks to change.

    How does Dr. Yancy expect to change hearts and minds of "white people" if his opening salvo is to ignore their individuality? To accuse and humiliate them rather than win their understanding?

    Dr. Yancy, please give up on "white people." Your efforts are only adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

  125. Perhaps there is selection bias at work here: you're looking at comments on the NY Times, not the overall set of comments he received.

    Still, if you received two comments today, one saying how nice you looked, and the other a threat to kill you, you might not focus on the positive either.

  126. Thank you for not giving up. I have been fortunate to have friends take the time to "call me out" on my unconscious racist behaviors. The courage and intelligence of Baldwin and Fanon and Said to write and publish their analyses has helped me deepen my understanding of the ways in which we are all dipped in racism in this country. Since I engage with students each day, this has ripple effects. I am so very thankful for you and others not giving up on white people. I commit to working as hard as I can to be a good ally to fellow faculty of color and to dismantle the pernicious and violent system of white supremacy that continues, somehow invisible to so many, to this day.
    We really have no hope if you and others who make the effort to teach and write give up.

  127. It's almost impossible to grow up in a predominately white community in the US and not absorb racist stereotypes about blacks. Virulent, overt racism of the type Yancy describes is now relatively rare (though I fear growing). But there are many white Americans who are just as virulently racist but keep their thoughts hidden to avoid appearing racist. These Americans may make a racist comment or snicker at one someone else makes if they feel they are in a safe space. If they're educated, they might defend Charles Murray as a man unafraid to speak truth to political correctness. They believe blacks are inferior, but don't want to jeopardize their respectability by marching with tiki torches.

    There's an even larger group of white Americans who accept racist stereotypes without acknowledging or recognizing that they do and who will insist if challenged that they are not racist. These Americans tend to deny racism exists at all anymore. In some ways, they are the most dangerous of all as their denial of racism allows it to fester while also delegitimizing any fight against it.

    These three groups of whites probably constitute two-thirds to three-quarters of the white population, which is why Yancy's frustration is so justified. Most of the remainder of the white population (including me) also has absorbed racist stereotypes, but at least tries to fight them off. A few may truly not be racist.

    Most adult whites may indeed be beyond hope—but let's not give up on their kids.

  128. I think what you have described is truthful beyond measure. Thanks for being genuine.

  129. Thank you, thank you.
    Last week in my 70-student graduate level class at a Hispanic-serving university, conservative anger over the use of "Mexican-American" boiled over, risking the safety of the space. The prior week, we had read Plato on rhetoric, and the effects of ignorance on the tyrant who only gets what he thinks he wants ... so, Socrates didn't make it out alive, did he? We white folks avoid the incredibly painful discussions of race at the peril of our values, our souls. What ends up in a coffin is even more important than a body - it's a mind-body-heart-soul, and we are in greater peril than you, even if you slip into our ignorance, as it will never be mirror-ignorance because we have the power of race privilege.

  130. I’m naively shocked by the hate letters people send you. Thank you for sharing them. It’s another wake-up call to white liberals like me. We (think we) understand the effects of institutionalized racism, but it’s harder to fathom the emotional and psychological toll of being the object of impersonal, visceral hatred. I appreciate your courage and invaluable philosophical insights throughout your work.

  131. There is a continuing legacy of racism and we need witnesses to the ugly hate that Professor Yancy has faced. But I doubt that "white america" is a useful construct in the same way that I doubt "black america" is a useful construct. Professor Yancy's question answers itself due to his antecedent determination that 1) there is some monolithic white america that he can talk at and about; and 2) the hate mail he received (rather than, as I recall, the rather civil critiques I read of his column and his white colleagues) are the voice of "white america." If those things are both true, then of course he should give up. But are they true?

  132. Of course, "white" is a construction, but it is a construction that is systematically privileged in this country. What does privilege mean? Find me a white philosopher talking about race who has received hundreds of death threats in the mail.

  133. What person of any color could not feel a slug in the gut and a deep shudder when hearing of the messages Mr. Yancy received? It's sickening and angering and at the same time it feels defeating. Depending on where you live and the people you grew up with it might also seem hard to believe or all too believable. Such hate, such deformity of the human soul.

    But reading through the article, and the comments, my thoughts came together in the same direction as Michael's. Our categories and metaphors are so crude. "White America" and "Black America." "Dismantling," "privilege," "supremacy," "whiteness." These are blunt weapons. They tend to group together all sorts of dissimilar things with dissimilar causes and dissimilar effects. They create resistance, sure, because some people resist acknowledging racism, but they also create misunderstanding and confusion.

    I must admit that I'm not sure even our sharp critical tools or our best language are effective against what Yancy was forced to experience. The real change will and must come from person to person, working relationships, friendships, marriages, forms of belonging together and living together that build trust and dissolve fear. That process may have no end since the tribal instinct is deeper than our intellectual or even ethical preferences. Deeper still, as Mr. Yancy knows, is love--and we believers should never give up on that, although it is often a sacrificial road.

  134. Yes, Michael, what you say is true, of course. But you give no quarter to human exhaustion. Yancy is giving vent to the eternal expectation that it is his burden to make the distinctions, and when he (we) take the easy way and neglect to do so, we are the ones who get burned, and the enlightened white people are never similarly yoked and thus freely and, most often cluelessly, go on their merry way. What Yancey conveys here is that he is tired -- after all these years -- just tired out -- spent.

  135. I remember when my moment of partial enlightenment hit, forty years ago. My college roommate, who was black, and I went into one of the old Ponderosa steakhouses for dinner. As we walked between the tables, an old white guy looked straight up at us with a hate stare. Since were close together, I felt as though he was staring directly at me. The shock of that intense, violent hatred directed out of nowhere was followed by the thought, "black people have this feeling EVERY DAY, most of the time, and never can escape from it." If otherwise well-meaning people have trouble with Dr. Yancey's tone or message, they have to get in touch with the endless pain and threatened state from which his message comes. White people aren't all alike in their prejudice, but they are all alike in being insulated from the collective effects of that prejudice, and need to do everything they can--small scale as well as big--to compensate.

  136. I am sorry to hear about the death threats. As a white person who benefits from white privilege based on the circumstances of my birth, and who is concerned about systemic racism, and who tries to speak up when I see racist/misogynistic behavior, I would like to know what other specific actions I should be doing.

  137. Dear Mr. Yancy,
    Thank you for your wonderful essay, “Dear White America”.
    It seems to me to be time to give up on white people, altogether, in light of the most recent NBC poll of approval ratings for the monstrous president of the US. He is under-water with every group, except whites.
    His election was about one thing, and one thing alone, virulent, unshakeable bigotry. They will never change.

  138. Hatred stems from defensiveness; the people who wrote these letters live in a world of fear. But of what? What distinguishes white fear from other cultures and makes it such a virulent, aggressive type?

    I would answer: the concept of innocence, especially childhood innocence. For whites, a child (even the unborn child) is an innocent about to be victimized by the evils of the world, the worst evil being bad people. (Whites long ago "conquered" nature.) The innocent need protection, and it is the "noble" duty of the man to protect, through aggression, the innocents within his society. The next step is to define the "bad" people. We all know how that goes.

    This concept of innocence helps explain many of the attitudes of the conservative base, such as those towards crime, abortion and education. But the innocence/protection dichotomy is deeply imbedded in white (some would say WEIRD) culture and is also a reason why so-called liberals often fail, in the end, to address racist attitudes that lead to segregated or unequal neighborhoods and schools.

    There's a great deal of information on contrasting notions of childhood, child-rearing and the concept of innocence available on the web. The paradox is that this notion, derived perhaps from Judeo-Christian notions, while perpetuating hate, has also been an important factor in the development of modern political institutions.

  139. i am a white man and giving up on america. that to this day there are still people that support donald trump is indicative of how far we have fallen. we will all live better lives in liberal, diverse, equal and civil societies. leave this country to the coal miners.

  140. As a white male, I see very clearly the amount of privilege I receive on a daily basis - both implicit and explicit. Doors open for me in the banalest unnoticed ways. Walking through them is an act of racism. I get it. But what am I to do? Ignore opportunities? Hold the door behind me? Hold it open for someone else? All of the above?

    These questions lie at the heart of the real problem. White privilege is a thing, a power. And no one freely gives up their power.

    A complicating layer is that I'm also a gay man. Once I walk through a door, I have to prove myself immediately in order to stay there. How many historically oppressed people can relate to that? So what to do? Take it down from the inside (a fallacy to think that's realistic)? Ignore it take it to the streets? Leave the country so deeply stained by its original sins that ones despairs that it can never be fixed?

    I simply don't know what it takes to live ethically anymore.

  141. Of course there is white privilege and racism that we need to work on correcting. Racism is universal and a group placed in the higher status will work on maintaining the status quo, consciously or not. But racism is universal, as we also see with prejudices toward people who are African American with darker skin versus lighter skin. People everywhere have been brainwashed or accepting of unfounded (and disproven) notions of superiority, turning to ancient tribal instincts, in Africa, in Europe, in the U.S...

    The approach I have to disagree with on "Dear White America" is the extent of shaming, since there are many liberals and progressives who have long taken a lot flack from conservatives from their stances against racism. Yes, it can't compare to what African Americans go through daily, but there are many white people fighting for change.

    I believe racism is an instinct in all of us, that we constantly have to be aware of and over rule with rational thought. Being honest with these sides to ourselves is part of overcoming them. Better integration would also help, turning outsiders we never met growing up into insiders who have been part of our communities.

  142. Dr. Yancy, identity politics, not white people, is what you should give up on. It is a road to nowhere and only makes matters worse.

    After the election of Mr. Trump, how is this not obvious to the elite left?

  143. Black people like to hold on to their identity. And even if they don't they are reminded of it constantly. Just look at Barack Obama, he is half white for goodness sakes. His dad was not an American, he was from Africa and went back to Africa. Yet Obama, because of his not as pale skin and crinkly hair, was not accepted as half white and blacks like Cornel West, Travis Smiley, did not consider him black enough. Such confused people.

  144. White identity politics elected Mr. Trump

  145. Thank you, Professor Yancy. I am moved by your honesty, and by your stalwart support of justice, love, and learning.

  146. There is so much distrust on both sides of the aisle that reconciliation is going to be a monumental task, but I believe it is absolutely imperative if we are going to be successful as a nation. Everyone needs to acknowledge their own prejudices and accept that "all" humans are imperfect, regardless of their ethnicity. These prejudices (be they fear, anger, hate, etc.) shape our perceptions and behaviors. It's a tragedy that no administration has made a concerted effort to address this issue openly and find solutions. Certainly, it's not going to happen when we have a closet racist as president, but hopefully we can find more common ground as we work together to save our country. Please don't give up Mr. Yancy.

  147. The answer to your question is love and forgiveness.

    I am 68% Southern European, 10% West African and 13% Native American. When I must answer and check a box about what racial bucket I put myself in, I usually check Hispanic or white hispanic. I have always found it imposible to differentiate between races and I married a fish-belly-white, 100% Northern European white man.

    Yes, life is much easier by “becoming” white. I have changed them as much as I they have changed me. I became my mother in law’s favorite son in law and she made a point that thanksgiving celebration would be at my house at my table. My favorite time of the year was always when I cook an extravagant thanksgiving dinner for her. She made my dream come true of celebrating thanksgiving at my table with my new white family. We had wonderful thanksgivings full of laughter and a drunken happy family.

    I loved my mother in law and held her hand as she took her last breath.

  148. Dr. Yancy, I am white so while I think I not racist I recognize that there is a privilege of which I am not even fully aware. I had this naive vision that when President Obama was elected that having that occur would somehow transcend into our culture and bring healing. I saw the opposite: it seemed to break open a wider chasm in our country.
    All I can say is please keep speaking and working. Through voices like yours I have begun to understand that while I would never join the KKK or harm someone or not hire someone because of color, there is systemic racism that I am a part of. Your essay made me cry and your words and vulnerability can open minds and hearts of some people.

  149. Dear Dr. Yancy, First of all, I feel for you. This torrent of abuse comes from a deep place in the American psyche and one that many white people always want to dismiss as marginalized few.

    But as I've pondered some of the questions that you write about, I think we put too much emphasis on white people and not enough on institutional and structural racism.

    For example, if we can change the prison industrial complex hundreds of thousands of black lives will be affected.

    If we can put real teeth in bank regulations and enforce open housing laws, again thousands would benifit and homeowner wealth would be transfered in black families, just as it is in white ones.

    If we can change our drug laws and redefine policing, we can save black lives.

    If we can stop this assault on teachers and turn the urban school into a multi-purpose educational and service center, controlled by the community it serves, we can reclaim the meaning of education in the 21st century.

    Some of these measures will be supported by our white allies. And, as has always been the case, reforms that focus on structural racism benefit whites as well.

    Somewhere along the way we may even touch white hearts and help them understand the ways in which racism has reduced their humanity just as it has ours.

    But for now, I'll accept that as a byproduct rather than a goal.

  150. I would invite Dr. Yancy to be an exemplar of anti-racism by answering his titular question with a resounding "no", accompanied with a refusal to treat white people as a monolithic bloc of humanity, and instead as a patchwork of all its best and worst impulses. I would invite Dr. Yancy to understand that his experiences come from individuals (no doubt who are disturbed in most cases, and unhappy in their own lots) and not from "white people". I invite Dr. Yancy to separate these experiences from broader questions of racial injustices at the systemic level, because indeed they are distinct problems.

    Dr. Yancy, I urge you to resist the temptation to "give up on white people" just as I urge you to resist the temptation to render them all complicit - just as I learned not to render black people complicit in the actions perpetrated by a few. I appeal to you to embrace our common humanity in the face of the horrific, and to perhaps seek out the wisdom of the Stoics (yes, some ancient white people, but quite wise) in your dealings with the unwell persons out there.

  151. Well, it dawned on me years ago that we have a big problem here, a sick society. We need to get over it, and first we need to figure out how to go about getting over it.

    The only way that seems to work is the individual relationship. One interaction at a time. So, no, you shouldn't give up on white people...

    I'm sorry for your pain. I can't change my skin color, but I can work on how I think and behave. That's all anyone can do. This should be a co-operative effort?

  152. Thank you for sharing your story and your feelings Professor Yancy.
    Many of us in White America stand with you as allies in doing the painful long-term work of reversing a history of systemic racism and oppression.

  153. Thank you for your courage and resolve to address white racism. As a white male, I have never in my life been told by anybody, even my enemies, let alone so many strangers, that they would like to kill me, or that I should end my life or leave or die. I just do not have that experience. I am sorry that this is a reality in our world. I pledge to muster more courage in addressing racism in my own life, community and country.

  154. I cannot begin to know how it feels to have your value diminished because of the color of you skin. I have asked honest questions to my friends of color, and learned of how walking into a dept store or in a white neighborhood was often met with suspicion. My hearts cries at the racism and misogyny that many harbor, but for all of them,we are here, correcting our own vestiges of bias and fighting for a just world where differences are celebrated. Don’t give up.

  155. I'm with you. I'm white. Please don't give up. I haven't. Yes, this country and our culture has deep-rooted problems when it comes to race. What I find sad is that race is still an issue in my lifetime when it should have been settled 150 years ago following the Civil War. Too many folks, white and black, are still struggling with race.

    It bothers me to no end to hear a white person say, "I know how you feel". No white will ever know how it feels to be non-white or to live in a racially charged society such as ours. Whites just don't get it.

    Sometimes when I'm in a crowd, I close my eyes and try to "picture" those around me. All people in that picture are the same. I have no idea what color, shape or size. Maybe it is our eyes that get us into trouble most. The eyes are windows into our souls but much of the time we don't look beyond the tips of our noses.

    There's goodness in everyone. Find it and perhaps we can start to undo the mess racism has caused us all.

  156. Please don't make statements like "whites don't get it." It's like saying all dogs bite. They don't.

  157. you are an extraordinary writer. thank you for your transparency and willingness to share your vulnerabilities. praise God

  158. I'm a white philosopher. I admire George Yancy in both capacities, and I think he is doing great things in the ways he addresses pervasive racism in American society and philosophy, with possibilities that philosophy may help us think some of this through. Every day we discover new ways in which racism--not just black and white racism--is profoundly corrosive to our lives--both black and white.

    Having said this, however, I must protest this piece, however touching, however deeply people have wounded Yancy. There are no "white people" and there are no "black people" even as the corrosiveness of racist violence continues its horrors.

  159. I went back to read your “Dear White America” piece. I found your analysis of sexism sound, but not your conclusion that you are sexist. What I saw is that you are committed to a life-long search for truth and justice, including self-examination to see how you fall short and what you can do to correct those failings. In so doing, you provide a role model for your students and for all of us, for which I thank you. I am not sure, however, that affixing labels is a good tool for learning. Rather, we need to get behind the labels to an understanding that, no matter how hard we try to overcome their impact, structural racism (and misogyny) are woven into the fabric of our lives. To overcome the impact of that, even in small respects, requires an ongoing struggle from which we can never rest. Let’s take a concrete example: if what we think is that only a Joe Biden can win a presidential election in America, we need to examine why.

  160. I appreciate your writing and I fully agree. I would be identified as a White person of privilege, and I lived and taught a prejudice course for 8 years at a college in CA. I tried to affect some change. It saddens me this topic as it prevents so many opportunities for connections with others and angers me as it is so unfair and unjust. I wish an ethical worldwide committee would impose some kind of order on the internet and what is written; on the basis of human rights superseding freedom of the press in this instance.

  161. If one accepts the scientific finding that race is a social construct, racism is a non-sequitur, yet, it is a persistent one. Fueled as it is by emotion, it is highly resistant to logic.

    People of color, as well as the colorless like me (with the exception of my 1/16 Native American Heritage), will not find solutions in stereotyping those of different hues. The rhetorical slings and arrows Professer Yancy suffered are surprising to me only insofar as they yield the insight that the Times has its share of ignorant readers. Every "race" has its haters. However, those comments are surely not in the slightest way representative if the views of the vast majority of "white" America. A simple survey would provide the appropriate citation.

    If we truly want to cure the disease of racism, we will have to recognize that negative emotions are the problem, not the solution, regardless of color. The grievous human tendency to feel rather than think is exacerbated by the greater intensity of the destructive end of the emotional spectrum, but our finest labors are those of rational charioteers reigning in the apocalyptic team of emotional furies that propels us through the arc of time.

  162. As a white male, I see very clearly the amount of privilege I receive on a daily basis - both implicit and explicit. Doors open for me in the banalest unnoticed ways. Walking through them is an act of racism. I get it. But what am I to do? Ignore opportunities? Hold the door behind me? Hold it open for someone else? All of the above?

    These questions lie at the heart of the real problem. White privilege is a thing, a power. And no one freely gives up their power.

    A complicating layer is that I'm also a gay man. Once I walk through a door, I have to prove myself immediately in order to stay there. How many historically oppressed people can relate to that? So what to do? Take it down from the inside (a fallacy to think that's realistic)? Ignore it take it to the streets? Leave the country so deeply stained by its original sins that ones despairs that it can never be fixed?

    I simply don't know what it takes to live ethically anymore.

  163. Thanks for your essay. As a white man, I've come to believe transformation among white people will ultimately come from discourse among white people themselves (racism's most common posture is defensiveness). But remember that "whiteness" and "blackness" are ultimately stand-in terms for positions within a power structure, not ontological states. Asking if you should give up on "white people" is to ask if you should give up speaking truth to power. Of course, power comes in many forms and some whites are rendered powerless in some arenas of the social order, but never by virtue of their "whiteness" (a fact which a few comments here seem to still not get by conflating the notion of racial "privilege" with other types of privilege). There are a lot of racist white people, and any fantasies we harbored that we were making great strides to end racism over time, or that there was such a thing as inevitable "progress," were (ironically) dashed with the ascension of President Obama whose mere existence unleashed dormant demons.

    Sadly, your message won't change much on a broad scale. But every year you have access to white students who can benefit from your wisdom. Never stop speaking to them. Work on ways to help them see how power works in the world, and see the mythologies that arise from these power systems (racial, gendered, class-based, etc.). Your frustrations are understandable. But meaningful lives are often defined by frustrations. Keep fighting the good fight.

  164. all of us hear you, some disagree, others feel ashamed, some just listen.

    The truth is, until we become more than simply a very thin identity--white, black, of a religious persuasion--to each other, we will not make any progress. We are more than a white person, a black person, a muslim person, a christian person, a male, or a female. We each have histories, families, talents.

    Know these. Make it your business to know the full , thick, historical, personal identity of each person. Then the problem will resolve. Only then.

    And, recognize, all our relations. And respect them each and every one.

  165. Maybe you should give up on some white people the way I, a white person, have given up on some black people. I live in a large metro city that is about 65% black, has a black mayor, black city council chair and countless other black officials. The county I live in is also run by black people. The new mayor is knee-deep in corruption and near-chaos that was left to her by the former black mayor. She has been tainted by him by media and other city residents, but I have decided to place my confidence in her.

    I'm fortunate enough to have plenty of black friends and colleagues, and these friendships and alliances were formed because I got to know them as individuals.

  166. In 1905 my 65 year old great grandfather was killed in a bar fight by a guy named McMurray. Yesterday while flipping channels I watched NASCAR for a few minutes and here was a young driver named McMurray in the running. Am I supposed to hate everybody named McMurray forever because of what one of their ancestors did to one of ours over 100 years ago?

    Somewhere, someone named McMurray still gets in to bar fights. Is that all the proof I need to label the whole clan as treacherous murderers?

  167. Provocative title. Low on content. Mainly the insecurities of the author projected on to the world outside. Where he sees only the bad aspects, and projects everyone as bad.

  168. I am sure what Professor Yancy has gone through was traumatic, and indeed, he writes as someone who was traumatized, but I don't think this column serves anyone's interest except perhaps as clickbait or to create interest in selling books.

    Yes, there are haters of every stripe, and threats of physical violence which are often criminal need to be dealt with immediately and harshly, but putting all white people in the same bin as these disturbed haters is highly offensive, and promotes hostility not healing.

  169. Maybe not all white Americans, but frankly, I'd would put each and everyone of the 55-odd million Americans who voted for our current "bigot-in-chief" into that haters bin. To which I would add the observation that it's difficult to further "promote" a hostility which has been alive and active over the last 400-odd years. You can't add water to a bucket which is already full!

  170. There is no such thing as 'white America' to give up on. There are just white individuals- some good and some bad.

    I have been the victim of violent crime three times in my life. All three times the perpetrator was black man- usually with other black men helping him.

    I never considered 'giving up' on 'black America.'

    Let's not apply our experiences with one person (or three, or more) to an entire race. Because if that were a standard response I bet we would be reading "Should I give up on black people?" pieces often.

    And I just could not deal with such blatant racism. I am not part of the historical injustices committed against black Americans. I have harmed no one. According to my tally I have been victimized.

  171. Do not give up, Professor Yancy. You are doing good work, calling out what needs to be called out. You remind all of us to speak up, to vote, to bear witness. Those hate-filled people who send you those unspeakable letters do not represent anyone other than themselves. I realize that must be small comfort, but nonetheless, please do not forget that.

  172. Yes, there are racists. However, in my opinion, many people are, in effect, “classists.” People tend to identify with people of their own social, economic, and educational “class,” and,in turn, be more comfortable, and associate with, those people. It’s not that this isn’t a weakness - it is - but it is not necessarily racist.

  173. While I applaud Professor Yancy for attempting to force some introspection among 'White People,' this particular piece of hand-wringing over race loses sight of our collective membership in the human race.

    He has certainly been the recipient of some ugly hate mail, but go watch 10 minutes of Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets. The most privileged among us get hounded by anonymous hate every day. It's human nature to take shots at the people looking down on us from the movie screen or the pages of the New York Times.

    And it's by no means a 'white' phenomenon. Generations of African-Americans have sharpened their insult skills playing The Dozens. It's who we are.

  174. Many days I am embarrassed to be white. These days that is often coupled with a deep embarrassment to be American, as well. We have some serious and deep cracks in the foundation upon which we built this country. However, as we all know, nothing can be repaired until the fissures are exposed. I think giving up on all white people is probably a symptom generational despair but it isn't the answer. Generalizing a group of people as all bad, all racist, all no good or all anything just shows there is progress to be made on both sides.

  175. Sad to say many Black people gave up on White people after the death of Dr. Martin Luther King. The dream of integration and racial equality gave way to the dream of Black Power. Did that encourage White people to abandon their racism? Did it create a permanent state of grievances that absolved Black people of all responsibility for their conditions of life? When Black people chose a separatist path after MLK's death it made White racist backlash inevitable. Still inexcusable, but unavoidable none the less.

  176. Clearly the U.S. has descended into another chapter where White Nationalism is in vogue. Having a white President ride into office on the back of bigotry is a signal that racism has raised its ugly head. But is the system racist? This is a much harder trend to grasp. Can we take the personal experience of one man and say there is no hope for the system? There's plenty of evidence showing white men have died to liberate people color. Plenty of white politicians who denounce racism today. Until Trump, I had thought racists in America were a small, unheeded fringe group and now I'm not so sure. Detecting trends is more the province of effective math than philosophy. It would be nice if there was a more analytical approach to the discussion.

  177. My gut response is 'please, don't' -- together with the usual reminder that a growing number of white folks are becoming aware of systemic racism as well as the uglier strains of prejudice amply illustrated in the horrible letters you've received. But as a Roman Catholic woman who daily struggles with the question of whether I can remain in a Church that systematically diminishes those of us who happen to be female, I understand and share your despair. Sexism is baked into the Catholic Church in the same way that white supremacy is baked into the United States. Overcoming these toxic legacies is the work of many generations. Like you, I sometimes I feel 'what's the use, they'll never change.' In the end it's always my love of justice and sense that it is worth fighting for-- even if the fight seems hopeless -- that draws me back.

  178. I feel disgusted every day when I hear yet another horrifying story of an innocent African American person being disrespected. It makes me embarrassed to be white. Please know there are those of us who are with you in the hopes of extreme change in this country that is desperately needed. I so hope this happens in my lifetime but unfortunately there will always be many who will never change in their racist views and actions. I wish for them to be less and less in numbers and more of us that will walk arm in arm with the African American individuals in protest of unfair treatment in society and the quest for true equality.

  179. I'm white and I am categorically NOT offended by the title of this article. These is something profoundly wrong with white America when a lost young man can't even ring a doorbell to ask for directions without taking his life in his hands.

  180. Please don't give up! There are many of us listening and trying to be better.

  181. Saying I'm sorry isn't enough. Knowing that I had no more control than you did over the color of my skin does not erase the inequity of the system that mindlessly favors me and endangers you. Yet I am sorry. I do see. I do care.

  182. That letter was horrible.
    I too have noticed people want to avoid frank and open discussions about race in America.

    I have attempted in multiple venues to join the discussion. These were attempts to talk about the numerous times my family, friends and neighbors were targets of hate and violence because they were white folks who dared to live in the neighborhood and have their kids attend Detroit schools. Raising these issues makes liberals go ballistic.
    In terms of my family's experiences in Detroit, my father was assaulted and left partially disabled as he stepped off a bus returning home from work. He didn't drive a car. He was a person, 62 years old, who didn't consider our neighborhood a ghetto or slum. He never returned to work. He was the victim of a racist attack. Words were spoken to him about being white. The perpetrators imagined they had the right to do this because of my father's skin color.

    There are other experiences that involve murder and arson which I would like to share in an open discussion about race relations in the US. The violence is not a one-way street.
    When we attempted to protect ourselves we heard the shouts "Look, white supremacists!" coming from many liberals living a safe distance away. Any mention of our experiences was deemed racist. We eventually did move out ("white flight!").
    Our family has done well without any imagined generations of wealth contrary to the current false racial dichotomy.
    An open discussion will never occur.

  183. The difficulty with irrationally based hate is that it is propelled by intransigence and denial and fueled by fear of the 'other.' As long as we see ourselves in the false shell of race, we're caught in the trap.

    The worst legacy of early capitalism was slavery - the commodification of human beings. We have a modern version of it in the GOP today. They value the 1% and revile the poor. Both in words and in legislative actions, Republicans manufacture inequity and stop at nothing to insure the perpetuation of their elitist agenda.

    The treatment of black folks is a national shame. Do we have the will to work it through?

  184. Your article is gut-wrenching.
    Thank you for your your decision to document and effectively communicate the cyclic pain and suffering bread and sustained by ignorance and intolerance. For what it's worth, the privilege of reading your article has redoubled my personal resolve to do whatever I can, as long as I can, to address it directly, whenever and wherever I can.
    No one has the right to ask more of you.
    Respectfully yours,

  185. This comes across more as the indulgence of an academic.

  186. You remark as though that it is a negative.

    I disagree. Our society needs its academics, its subject matter experts, its thought leaders.

    Professor Yancy's "indulgences" push many of us to critically evaluate our lives, our positions, and our belief systems.

    While he at times makes this white man face uncomfortable truths, I thank him for doing so.

  187. Really? So presumably you are of the opinion that all academics are routinely subject to this kind of vitriol? And that those who are should just let it pass without comment?

  188. I honestly do not know what to say.

    I can only comment that for every person so small, so mean and so full of hate that they must threaten and bully another to feel better about themselves, there are thousands who support you Professor Yancy, and who no longer know what to do about the despicable behavior of some members their "tribe".

    It's small comfort but know these hate-filled people will eventually die away consumed by their own malice and ugliness. Until then we can only support each other, one to one and try to weather the storm.

  189. Hate dwells in people who foster it. I dare say if you were to take the racial component out of the equation, that same level of hate would be directed to another group of individuals. I have always believed into judgement of a person by which they bring to the table. Nothing more. However, the powers that be who thrive on our dissension have always used race and class to keep us in place...just my 3 cents

  190. Thank you Dr. Yancey for your thoughtful piece. I would ask you a couple of questions: what happens when we untie the mast? If we are headed toward the sirens, we are to be ripped apart.

    And if we have joined you in the water, how do we avoid the rage (or how do I avoid the rage I feel toward other whites) when readers respond to this article by saying “I am appalled...” because, as you say, we are not innocent. Saying “I am appalled” and “I want to get involved” is a luxury of the white person. It’s no different than the white man coming to the #metoo movement and saying, “wow, this is bad!” in a room of women who have lived this every day of their lives.

    At the risk of pushing your metaphor too far, once we jump in, albeit hundreds of years too late, where do we swim?

  191. You might start by not hurting people of good will for seeming clueless. There are enough people of bad will to be concerned with, frankly, and you (and I) need allies.

  192. Professor Yancy,

    As a white Jewish gay man, I have suffered my own forms of being oppressed. I continue to work on my own racism, internal homophobia and internal antisemitism.

    Yet most troubling is my racism. As those thoughts come unbidden into my awareness, I let them go and try to forgive myself. I have done a lot of work on this, and at 66 years old, will continue to be an ally to the black community. It’s all I can do to reduce the institutional racism we all grow up with. That, and speaking up, no matter how difficult, when I see/hear/experience racism in any form.

    Let’s keep creating awareness. Thank you for not giving up on us.

    Migs Halpern, Asheville, NC

  193. Sorry I give up. Every single one of us plays a part in our national demise. Throw politics, religion and racism aside. We are paving the path to our own extinction by letting our primitive irrational part of our so called brain dominate our actions. Fear,greed and hate are easier to nurture than love and understanding. My life is near complete, the only thing I truly care about is knowing that our planet will be cleaner and more environmentally hospitable to our progeny. That ain’t gonna happen, and racism will never die.

  194. White middle class American female here. I hear you, I agree with you, and it sickens me to the core to think that all of those awful, nasty racist attitudes still exist in this country. I do my best to fight back against it and have even left conversations when I realized that the other person was not going to be the least bit open to hearing what I had to say and/or jumped all over me for pointing out their racist talk "was just a joke." They usually add "I have a black friend..." or "I wasn't talking about ALL blacks, just certain ones..." Uh-huh. right, whatever. It hurts my heart to see the hidden racism in those I know who refuse to admit it, thereby perpetuating these thousand cuts to the soul. I hope more white folks step forward to acknowledge that they, too, have hidden, if not open, racist attitudes so we can finally heal our country from the centuries of racism that still carry on into today (Starbucks in PA being the latest - thankfully, no one was shot or killed).

  195. Most white people I know are horrified by this blatant, unfettered racism. I stand up against racism, my kids stand up, and my parents stood up back in the 60's when it wasn't fashionable. Most of my students are people of color and I worry about them getting home. I know their sweet dispositions and bright aspirations, and I know the inherent dangers in their commutes. I also know my young ladies in hijabs are spit on. I know some of my Asian students will have trouble getting into better schools, because there are too many of them." When did white make right? Please don't give up on all of us.

  196. My response to this is, "Should I Give Up on George Yancy?" Mr. Yancy, I remember your 2015 essay, and I went back and read it after reading your commentary here. There were thousands of comments in response to your original essay, and, if you sort them by popularity, you will see there were some excellent, critical responses to your work. But you apparently have not responded to them. Instead, you picked out some vicious slurs and threats and have tearfully chose to focus on those as *your* interpretation of what White People are. That's your choice, but, to be honest, it reduces your credibility to the point that we as readers have to ask if you are anything more than, say, a shouting head on Fox News. You can preach to your students all you want, but until you address some of the critical thought that the majority of Times readers have expressed, your thoughts are simply one man's opinion.

  197. I don’t think it’s the least bit out of line for a writer of color to point out the tidal wave of hate to which they are subjected for pointing out some basic facts of America life. Whiteness is a scourge. We should all give up on it before it is too late.

  198. If we want to have a genuine conversation then perhaps we all (white and people of color)need to start by saying "I am a racist". We all are and it seems the greatest barrier to progress in this is that we deny it's existence in ourselves. Until we can all admit that, I don't think we will get anywhere. Thank you professor Yancy.

  199. With respect, I disagree. It's not constructive to say "I'm this" or "I'm that," because it precludes the possibility of change. ("I'm just racist. Everybody's racist. Oh well.") Better to be mindful of our thoughts and actions, deliberate in our interactions with others, so we can say "Yikes, is that idea racist? I need to rethink that idea."

  200. 'Should I give up on White people?'

    No. Please don't. I know it may seem a difficult ask, against what appears overwhelming evidence, but the majority of people (all flavors!) are with you. You hear of course mainly from the haters. Out of sheer prudence, this drains your faith in others; almost, you daren't trust them, from experience.

    I write from London, but have spent most of my life in the US - New York City, and California. And have seen things done and said to non-white people, that had they been said to me, were I Black, would have left me near-homicidal. If not actually there.

    I lived as a teen through the Civil Rights movement. I saw what can be done to improve things; crucially, that sustainable, solid trust can be built across apparently unbridgeable gaps.

    Is it fair that you should bear such a burden? Absolutely not. But dropping it hurts everyone. And I mean everyone. But please, for that same everyone, don't despair. Then 'They' will have won. And you'll feel no better.

  201. Reading this is making me sick at heart. I live in a majority black neighborhood and and I confront the incongruities and injustice every day: of opportunity, of equality, of the false narratives. I also have found myself, like Prof. Yancy, asking myself if I should despair, but it is over misogyny, which has been unmasked and unleashed during the Trump era, & competes for vileness with racial hatred. I am also an anti-gun activist, & I watch what happens to Shannon Watts and other leaders of this movement, the hatred, death threats, and irrational venom spewed at her and her family and children, & I am again ready to despair and give up in the face of hatred. It is hatred in all it's forms--racial, sexual, ideological--that we are up against. I understand that my experience is different from yours, but should we be measuring whose oppression is the most legitimate oppression, whose dehumanization the most dehumanizing?

    I see men everywhere, under cover of online anonymity, expressing graphically horrifying hatred towards all women. But I cannot give up on all men--I have two sons. We are all connected. With different skin colors, we cannot give up on each other. In denouncing violence, all violence, I cannot give up in the face of the gun cultists, who threaten to shoot teenage gun massacre survivors, & female anti-gun leaders, in the most ugly, graphic terms. But I cannot give up. Your pain breaks my heart. But we must unite together against all the hatred, all the pain.

  202. Amen to that.