An Embarrassed White Person

I see my skin in pale pink, yellow hues.
I see the same skin under white pointed hats,
under the rhetoric of white, right religion.
I see the same skin under the screams of people,
innocent, beautiful people,
being scorned, raped, beaten, hung.
What right do I have to say these words,
the color of my skin, my eyes, my hair, my voice
speaks to me, I am one of them.
I imagine five, ten, twenty
generations back, there I was
in the genes of others sweeping across
an ancient nation with genocide.
There I was an immigrant,
enslaving, torturing, oppressing
innocent, free people.
It’s the same today.
We hate others, hate ourselves,
hide under white laws, oppress the weak,
rape the land, destroy future innocence.
How am I not responsible?
I am this problem.
This is where I come from.
It’s a part of who I am.

13 thoughts on “An Embarrassed White Person

  1. As long as there’s money or power to be made out of it, there will always be hate. In my opinion, you shouldn’t feel guilty, if you aren’t personally involved in propagating their view. And you’re doing a lot by speaking up against it, which is more than most folks do.

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    1. I guess what I’m trying to say is maybe you’re being too hard on yourself. You are you, and they are them. Sorry for my confused thoughts. I shouldn’t have commented before thinking it through.

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      1. Oh I love your comment. I know what you are saying, I do. It is very supportive. It is an emotional topic for everyone. It’s a lot to think on, from a lot of different perspectives.

        This poem for me, was about embracing the grief, the dark places of my heritage, and continuing to unlearn whiteness in our culture. Thank you so much for your empathetic comment, though I do want to be guilty right now, even if I think I’m innocent. I’m not. It’s okay, I am a part of every other person not making a change, not standing up sooner, being louder, making it matter. It’s good for every white American to feel this way and give themselves a chance to learn again, learn more, learn for the first time maybe. I don’t think we understand now, or can really see how equality should be, but we each conversation helps.
        Warmly,

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    2. This is true. There is no ultimate fix. We see it always, even now. Currently, I am working on a poem entitled, A lament for Ukraine, and in many ways, it is also the expression of grief, loss, and social responsibility. Thanks for reading.

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  2. No, dear Kate, you are not the problem just because you are white. But your empathy is strong, and that in itself (through your poetry) is part of the help and awakening of others.

    As one poet to another, let me suggest that you change from double spacing to single spacing, and stanzas wherever you see fit. It’s easier on the eye and easier on the understanding.🙋‍♀️ Warmly, Arlene

    >

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    1. Thank you so much, yes, I can’t figure out how to do that on WordPress. I’ll try to get on the chat. I would prefer that always. Part of the perspective in this poem too is an “example,” type thinking, what the collective whiteness embodies in reference to values such as decolonization. I could possibly do some creative things with dialogue with this poem to help bring that through. Hummmm. Got me thinking. Thank you so much for your comment and your encouragement, and your input is very much appreciated.

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      1. Well, dear Kate, if my input is appreciated, let me say the same for and to your output. I haven’t been on WordPress for awhile, but when I’ve published my stuff, I haven’t had any trouble with the spacing. (At least I think so, must check). I publish everything I write on Facebook and don’t really find any problems there. (I write virtually everyday). Are you on Facebook? I like Facebook because of the rather quick responsiveness from people worldwide. It feels so intimate in some way. Me sitting in now frozen Sweden and lovely young and old in Africa, Pakistan and, and…

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      2. I am most positive the WP issues are user error.. lol. Most my stuff is hand written even from long ago, trying desperately to catch up with ideas. I have a hard time getting it up on a computer. haha. Sweden sounds lovely. What a great visual of everyone everywhere. I am on Facebook, but haven’t posted anything for over a year. I’m going to get back on there soon, and I will look you up most definitely.

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  3. Hear! Hear! I have a great-great-great-great grandfather who owned other people in Virginia 175 years ago. Fortunately, I think his line is the only one of mine stained by that sin. And even if it wasn’t, my pale skin has granted me all sorts of advantages. It’s refreshing to see others recognize and acknowledge that. Well done!

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  4. This is the most self-aware thing I’ve written from a white person in a long time, Kate. Thank you for this. It’s about taking ownership of how people who look like you have imperialized and oppressed the world, not necessarily about an individual act of one white person. Love this.

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    1. Thank you for your perspective. It is all about ownership, and this poem is mild on that note, tip of the iceberg stuff, compared to a place where the white public desires to pass the torch so to speak in everything; cultural tone and voice, political reform, societal, and without defense, but in hopes to be the minority, to see others take claim, to bring justice in at least a paradigm shift, hoping to bring awareness.

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