GRIEF AND THE WHITE VOID

Unacknowledged white grief

Confronting White Denial

Professor Janet E. Helms offers an illuminating model of white racial identity development. According to this model, after white people discover that race does matter and that its effects directly contradict American meritocracy stories, many of us go through what’s called the “reintegration” phase. This is characterized by racial denial, blaming people of color for the problems of racism.

Race Turns the World Upside Down

A caveat: this story of my experience as a white person is mine alone. I live at the intersection of many different privileged identities besides whiteness, and so I hope that my story will inspire other white people with different identities to tell their own.

Braving the White Microscope

For 400 years, the power structures of this country have silently centered the white experience, while people of color have been put under the microscope (for example, think of minstrel shows and yellowface theater).

White Guilt is a Trick

Many people hear me and roll their eyes, triggered by what they perceive as “white guilt.”

Choose: the Comfort or the Flames?

In most situations that are grieved, such as losing a loved one to cancer, the loss is clear. Other people understand the reason for the person’s grief, and understand on some level what has been lost.

Mutual Healing Through Reparations

This is a love note to myself and my white siblings already in the struggle. We are swimming in a sea of unacknowledged white grief. When we witness ourselves and other white people acting out that grief in unproductive ways, anger and superiority are not helpful. Instead, we need to hear the desperate cries for white healing spaces that are grounded in accountability to and support for organizing led by people of color. This is the work we must do to be a part of the multi-racial coalitions fighting for collective liberation.

  • Moving material resources to Black and Native organizing efforts
  • Speaking up in white public spaces about white supremacy
  • Building community through working with other white people to reforge our identities as white people

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Abraham Lateiner

Abraham Lateiner

A treacherous stormtrooper, quietly loosening bolts inside the Death Star. www.risksomething.org