I tried. I really did.
But it just didn’t work.
When I saw that Coca Cola was teaching its employees to “try to be less white” I thought I would take their advice. After all, they are Coca Cola, one of the biggest corporations in the world. Certainly, if they are suggesting something, it’s a good thing to do, right?
So, I thought, how can I be less white? I saw their suggestions:” be less oppressive,” “be less arrogant,” “be less certain,” “be less defensive,” “be less ignorant,” “be more humble,” “listen,” “believe,” “break with apathy,” and to “break with white solidarity.”
I tried each one. The first one was easy, since I don’t have the power or money to oppress anyone. My dogs might feel “oppressed” occasionally when I don’t let them eat table food, but that’s about it. I’m not “arrogant” in general because I have nothing to be arrogant about. I will admit to being “certain” quite often, but I think that might be more because of my age and religious belief. And, honestly, what does it mean to be less certain? Does it mean I act like I don’t know facts or can’t decide what I want for breakfast? I work at not being “ignorant” every day by thinking, reading, and asking questions. But, I am sure there are things I don’t know. Does that make me ignorant?
As for humility, I guess we could all work more on that, as we could on listening and believing as well. ( Although it’s a little hard to believe some of the crap being spewed on social media these days).
As for apathy, I had no idea that we were an item. I’m generally not apathetic about most things, and those things I am apathetic about I am not aware of. Hard to not care about something you don’t know you aren’t caring about.
As for “white solidarity” I guess I would like an explanation of what that means for white people or actually anyone. Solidarity is defined as “unity (as of a group or class) that produces or is based on a community of interests, objectives or standards. ” So I guess that means that you are in total agreement with anyone who shares your interests, objectives, or standards. Hmmmm. First of all, I don’t totally agree with anyone on everything. And if solidarity is based on interests, objectives or standards, I guess I could have solidarity with many groups, runners, citizens of Oxford, members of my gym, retired teachers, etc. But, since those groups include so many different races, that’s not “white” solidarity.
Now, maybe I am being defensive. Okay, I’ll give you that. But, let me ask anyone out there, if you were told not to be as much of the race that you are, wouldn’t you be a little defensive? If I asked my black friends to stop being “so black” don’t you think they would be defensive? Or my Hispanic friends? Or my gay friends? Of course they would be. Who wants to be told that what you are is wrong? Bad? These are not personality traits we are talking about, these are generalizations made on skin color. These are assumptions about you because of your ethnic group. You’re damn right anyone would be defensive.
So, here’s the bottom line. I have been white my entire life. I didn’t choose it. I can’t stop it. And I won’t apologize for it.
Here’s what I will do instead. Instead of being “less white” I think I will continue to try to be more human. I will try to be the best I can be by being more generous, more caring, and more cognizant of the fact that skin color and ethnic background doesn’t stop us from being Americans and members of the human race. And that means I won’t ask anyone else to be “less” of their ethnic group in order to check some box off a poorly considered and clumsily adapted program of division and indoctrination. Ever.
And I will never purchase Coke products again.