Actress Rosanna Arquette feels ‘shame’ at being born white; how exactly does that help minorities?
“I’m sorry I was born white and privileged. It disgusts me. And I feel so much shame,” the actress wrote on Wednesday, unsurprisingly prompting swift backlash.
One conservative black woman even tweeted what appeared to be a video response, though she did not directly name Arquette when she asked: "Who don’t wanna be white? What’s wrong with being white? What is wrong with these folks...these folks apologizing for their skin color, something you can’t change, baby; you can’t change your skin color.”
These damn democrats getting out of hand y'all! They don't wanna be white! They wanna call me out for supporting trump saying I don't wanna be black!! Who the hell thinks like that?? D.E.M.O.C.R.A.T.S! That's who! Crazy mfks pic.twitter.com/wyJamUHD9a— Monique Worthy *Aunty Tomasina👵👌* (@MoniqueWorthy) August 7, 2019
Arquette’s brand of virtue signaling does exactly nothing to improve the lives of less-privileged Americans who she seems to care so much about – and there’s no doubt that she does care; by all accounts, she has been an advocate for social justice in her life, attending protests against the Vietnam War with her activist parents and even marching alongside Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Movement.
Those are respectable, concrete actions a person can take to affect social change – but dramatically professing to hate one’s own color as a response to injustice faced by others? That’s an insane waste of energy and achieves absolutely nothing.
Your white guilt doesn't help any black people do better. Just thought you should know— ConservativeBlackMan 🇯🇲🇺🇸 (@NevilleD35) August 7, 2019
The fact that Arquette feels shame (or claims to, at least) over her own race will endear her to very few people; no one will think better of her for it. It does not make her a better person or a better activist – and anyone who does praise her for hating the color of her own skin probably has some serious issues of their own that they should take a look at.
Something has happened in recent years. It’s no longer enough to speak out and fight against injustice anymore. Now, instead of focusing on the issues, liberals are in some kind of bizarre competition with each other to prove who can be the very best ally to minorities.
Celebrities with white savior complex are the worst.... pic.twitter.com/r09GWXBafH— John Matthewson (@JohnMatthews85) August 7, 2019
A viral video taken at a recent Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) meeting perfectly demonstrated this liberal-on-liberal nitpicking. One speaker was berated for using “gendered” language, while another attendee stood up to demand that the room packed full of political activists cut out the chatter because he, as an individual, is “prone to sensory overload.” How any of this hand-wringing is supposed to further their political and economic objectives is anyone’s guess.
There are people in America, many of them white, working daily to combat social injustice – but very rarely would you hear any of these people condemning their own whiteness, over which they have absolutely no control. Actions speak louder than virtue-signaling on Twitter.
I was born white, work four jobs, can barely pay my bills and buy groceries, I am forced to live with my in-laws to have a roof over my head and I can’t go to the doctor because of crap health insurance. So yeah, I feel privileged.— Michelle Harris (@dmkharris) August 8, 2019
Arquette’s tweet also leaves the impression that whiteness automatically equals the kind of privilege Arquette has enjoyed. In a country of more than 300 million people, many millions of whom are white children living in poverty, it is insane to promote the idea of mere whiteness as something shameful.
By all means, feel free to hate injustice, hate discrimination, hate racism – but don’t waste your time hating whiteness itself, just for the sake of trying to sound like an ally to the downtrodden on social media. It’s nauseating, patronizing and smacks of this woman having a serious white savior complex.
Please don't. I understand the inclination but this is actually more harmful than helpful. POC are not trying to shame decent white people for being white. This feeds into a right wing talking point that this is what we want. I don't. I want allies who see my humanity. That's it.— Portia McGonagal of Winterfell (@PortiaMcGonagal) August 7, 2019
It’s not the first time Arquette has tweeted about her white guilt. She has done so multiple times in recent years; each time using the word “ashamed” to describe how she feels. But instead of bellowing about her own self-hatred on Twitter, it would be far more useful for Arquette to simply express sincere gratitude for having been born into privilege and having lived the life she has – and then to continue using that privilege to help others.
The fact that a grave historic injustice was perpetrated against black Americans by white Americans does not find its atonement or healing in Rosanna Arquette hating herself.
By Danielle Ryan
Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin.
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