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Guilt– Justifying Resentment in a Racialized America

When Condoleezza Rice defended what she determined to be the right of white people to admonish any thought of guilt they or their children should experience and express regarding any association or complicity in the plight of Black people and their oppression in American history, her verbal cosignatory agreement was held in their highest esteem and made an official Black contract signed in her hand, in support of white supremacism in America as far as white America was concerned. You see, it only takes one Black person they have determined to be an acceptable voice to agree, and justification is secured.

During an interview on the popular television show, “The View,” on ABC, she said:

"I don’t think that’s very productive for Black people to feel disempowered by race. I would like Black kids to be completely empowered to know they are beautiful in their Blackness, but in order to do that, I don’t have to make white kids feel bad for being white…”

No one questions the fact that Black people shouldn’t be disempowered by Race or for that matter, Racism. Being a seasoned orator, Ms. Rice was very careful in the beginning of her statement to stroke Blackness on the arm, that gentle and tender touch testimonial that said how much she would like Black kids to be completely empowered to know they are beautiful in their Blackness, but she added an important caveat: she did not have to make white kids feel bad for being white. That is the money statement that resonated among the very people who believe Black people are trying to do just that in order to make themselves feel beautiful in their Blackness.

This smacks of one of the most fundamental dismissals, of reality. She purposefully dismissed the fact that the ideology of white supremacy, which holds that whiteness as an assignment of the color white to the pigment on the skins of the people she doesn’t want to feel bad, upset or guilty, is THE number one reason why Black children and adults ARE disempowered to know they are beautiful in their Blackness, denied and discriminated against, and have been for generations. She left out the part that in ensuring the superiority of the little white children, the little Black children must live in inferiority. In short, for hundreds of years, white people have made little Black children feel bad for being Black.

What Condoleezza did was exactly what white people who support the fallacy of their own supremacy do when up against the prospect of truth and the reality of history: she deliberately used what I call the “Retributive” trope which contends Black people want and would seek retribution for their treatment by white people, and therefore, if Black people have been made to “feel bad,” then it should stand that white people should be made to feel bad as well. Of course, that trope is about as old as the Enslavement and Reconstruction and is a myth that helped to murder hundreds of thousands of Black people during the course of the Enslavement and after. Let me explain: for years there has been a fear among some white people that if given the opportunity, Black people would behave in the same manner as was done to them. It continues as the impetus for their desire to keep us “in our place.”

Moreover, in order to agree with a collective of people born into an ideology of their own supremacy, people who literally fought a war to continue owning other people they decided weren’t human, one would have to believe in the capacity for guilt by these people and their descendants in order for them to then attach any guilt to the Enslavement or its aftermath, which they obviously feel doesn’t warrant guilt within the raw definition as provided in their own study of Psychology. How many white people have said, “I never own any slaves,” or “that was so long ago,” or “you just need to get over it” when referring to the Enslavement and its aftermath?

For white people who ascribe no rational belief in their own accountability regarding the Enslavement, its aftermath, or systemic Racism, yet believe they are feeling guilt, what they are actually experiencing is not guilt but resentment over the thought of having to feel guilt, not guilt itself. If we look at what guilt represents, then we can understand why this statement makes sense.

What we actually have are an overabundance of complaints over some mythical desire of Black people to assign guilt to white people, for white people to own guilt. White people think Black people want them to be guilty Ms. Rice says as much in her statement that “I don’t have to make white kids feel bad for being white,” but the simple fact is, no one is interested in making white people feel guilty or making white children feel bad. Being held accountable does not require guilt. It requires responsibility, therefore, it renders the idea of Black people as perpetrators of white guilt absurd, since guilt is not necessary in order to dismantle systemic Racist practices within institutions == responsible action is. Accountability is.

Imagine how absurd it is to blame the people they oppressed for the very history they created. Yet, this is exactly what is being done. Still, it would appear these same white people continue to be offended by references to the responsibility of their ancestors’ behavior and feel they are being unjustly blamed for it. If we take a look at the term, “resentment,” we find it fits much more neatly into their experience, as bitter indignation at having been treated unfairly,1 no matter how ridiculous the resentment.

There is plenty of talk over not wanting to experience guilt, and more than enough blame for their resentment, which also mistakenly passes as guilt, but real expressions of guilt as explained psychologically, involving negative evaluations of the self, feelings of distress, and feelings of failure,2 within the context of white supremacy, its beneficiaries and the benefits which go along with membership and support of it, have not been the case, which means the term, “guilt,” is like so many terms containing all the mises: misuse, mislead,misinterpretation, misrepresentation, and misunderstanding, and is another one of those words in the lexicon of American Racialized wording that is typically weaponized for use by white supremacists and their complicit cohorts to justify never being held accountable and never being responsible, generation after generation.

The idea of white guilt is frankly a myth because it fails in its own explanation of what it means to be guilty, to feel guilty. The act of being guilty using their own psychological explanation of it is diametrically opposed to the ideology of their supremacy, therefore, in the realm of exceptionalism and superiority, they could never admit to any experience of having guilt let alone actually experience it. Whatever guilt they don’t want to experience has nothing to do with an idea that Black people are trying to make them feel that way. Black people have never been the problem of white people. Quite the contrary. As a matter of fact, white people have always been the worst enemy of themselves ever since they decided to assign the color white as their bond of superiority over everything and everyone but the God from whom their image was forged. It has simply been part of the ideology of whiteness to place blame for their own atrocities on the people they oppress. So, today, it is supposed to be the fault of Black people that little white children growing up today might have to learn what white ancestors and their descendants have been up to: denying, discriminating and disempowering little Black children in America for all these years

As is the case with everything bound within the ideology of white supremacy in America, the keyword here is "justification." Justification has been and remains the mainstay of white supremacism. In order for it to be maintained, it must be justified, however flimsily. So, guilt becomes another term created fallaciously and masquerading as reality in a nation whose very inception is based on a created fallacy of superiority. Guilt is just another justification being encouraged to defend an actual lack of guilt expressed for generations of overt and covert oppression exacted on Black people. In short, they are not guilty, do not want to feel guilty and as long as they are in charge, they want use the term guilt in the same way they use CRT to try to keep the unbleached truth of this nation from ever being completely revealed.

1 Oxford Dictionary-Resentment


1 Comment

Nov 04, 2021

You are describing the patterns of most abusers. The abuser often attempts to justify their abuse by blaming the abused for their (the abuser's) behavior to avoid feeling an guilt or shame. Practiced white supremacists will resort to this twisting of the truth to get out from under the facts of their own behaviors and typically exhibit the abusers indignance when confronted with the facts. The popular vernacular for this behavior is called gas-lighting. There is also a layered pattern of redundancy throughout societal hierarchies. What goes on in families also goes on in politics and governance and many institutionalized systems.

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