Guilty Whites Read From Their Self Loathing Books
A book excerpt reading took place at Portland Community College as part of their “whiteness history month”. Entitled “NW Writers Explore Whiteness, Its Causes and Impacts”, the event featured five authors who suffer from their white guilt, and decided to contribute to a book from 2Leaf Press. They went round-robin style, with each person reading about 30 seconds worth during each turn. “What Does It Mean To Be White In America is an anthology of more than 80 personal narratives that break the white code of silence. The authors come from a broad range of backgrounds and demographics, but share one thing in common; They are all white and willing to write about what being white has meant to them” says the announcer, as the event began.
One of the authors, Tereza Topferova Bottman, was originally from the Czech Republic, and had some startling things to say: “At first glance, ‘whiteness’ as status is all benefits, advantages, and shiny packages of sparkly goodies. But the truth is white people don’t make it through unscathed. Clearly, maintaining this hegemonic system comes at a cost to us whites. Recent studies show that white, middle aged men, unlike other groups, have a mortality rate that is rising at a rapid race. They’re dying from stress related causes. White Americans are also the biggest terror threat. We have been led to feel disconnected from the humanity of others as well as from our own. We fear being cast out from the only club to which we tentatively belong. This is the deadly set up we are up against, and it is high time for us to attempt to break free from these narratives and redefine our place as white people in the society and in the world.”
Patrik McDade was another presenter, and you can just feel the self loathing and guilt coming from his voice and mannerisms as he reads from his portions of the book.
Topferova Bottman continued by calling on people to renounce whiteness and capitalism: “I’m scared that the violence lurking beneath the mask of white supremacy will buckle out, targeting me as a woman, as someone with Jewish heritage, someone with a black partner and mixed race kids. This fear is real and visceral. But I organize despite it. Two years ago, with several others, I helped to form a group to EDUCATE, ORGANIZE, AND MOBILE white people to work for ‘racial justice’ as part of a multi racial majority for justice, we raise funds for grass roots organizations led by people of color. We volunteer our time and skills, we bring food, we show up to unplanned rallies, we phone bank and door knock to discuss issues pertinent to our community and to the Black Lives Matter movement. We educate ourselves, as well as other white people in our circles, we practice interrupting racism. This is hard work for me. THIS IS MY ANTIDOTE, TO VIOLENCE, APATHY, AND DESPAIR. I try to embody what I’ve longed for other white people to do. Which is to answer the call to acknowledge and renounce ‘whiteness’ for its historical and current inseparability form racial violence and oppression. I want to white people to oragnize, en masse, divest ourselves from the narrow definition of success in a capitalistic society that forces us to subscribe to the deadly values of white supremacy. What I ask of us is nothing short of building a new world, rooted in collective action, shaped by a narrative that strives to re-envision, co-create, collaborate, liberate across the great divisions of race, class, gender, and all the rest. THIS IS YOUR STORY AND MY STORY INTERTWINED.”
After the book excerpt reading, they took questions from the audience. Check out one such “question” from this overfed social justice wackjob, who just rambles on incoherently for three minutes, to the point where not the event the presenters could understand what she (or he?) was trying to ask. It sounds like unintelligible marxist word soup for 3+ minutes.
Topferova Bottman would also say that “whiteness” is a poison: “Gradually, I came to find that I could credit much of my reality in this society to white supremacist culture. The ideology of “whiteness” as status utterly envelops us Europeans, and its poisonous embrace. We cannot escape its cocoon. Rather, we carry whiteness with us like a charm that protects us from harm, shields from impact as we dive from the known to the unknown, parachuting from one spot on the globe to another as immigrants, tourists, or do-gooders abroad. The poison of white supremacy we ingest with our mother’s milk lingers.”
As if her words from this weren’t startling enough, turns out Tereza Topferova Bottman is a public school teacher, teaching “English Language Development” at Rigler School, which is a K-5 dual immersion school in northeast Portland.
One of the other authors, Ann Mavor, is apparently guilty about the wealth she has, but admits that she does little to help others: “My life is filled with decisions I make to maintain a privileged life, based on the oppression of others, past and present… I live off of money I inherited from my grand parents and parents. I don’t have many friends who are not white. I let fear stop me from reaching out to people of color. I buy clothes made by people who are paid poorly and work in unsafe conditions. I live in a nice apartment and eat healthy food, and look away from people who are homeless or poor. Mostly these are ways I stay passive and unconscious because to feel the full truth about racism and the harmful effects of capitalism would be unbearable.”
Portland Community College president Sylvia Kelley can be reached at 971 722 4365.