We can’t take off the white goggles, people.

I used to watch The View long ago when I was probably in high school or college. It isn’t so much my style these days. And Ms. E. Hasselbeck has always rubbed in the wrong way (I know, big surprise there). But I was so cheering Whoopi Goldberg on so much when I read about this. They were talking about the presidential election and E.H. was pretty much saying that black people should think a little bit before they just vote for the black candidate because he is black. (Which, of course, my reply is, hey probably they did, genius. But that is not the point here.) And W.G. is pointing out to E.H that there is really just no way she can understand where black folks are coming from.

SHEPHERD: But you’ve seen, you know, your entire lifetime you’ve seen people in positions of power that look like you. I, I am- the first time in my life, I am seeing a man that’s running who looks like me.

HASSELBECK: I’ve never seen a president that looks like me.

SHEPHERD: They look like you. They are white and they look like you. I want to be able- it shows young black men that they can have a voice in politics. It shows my son Jeffrey that he can do the same thing too.

HASSELBECK: I’m not against the idea. I just- I’m against the idea of not just looking beyond the things which have prevented them from being in office. We need to step away from that a little bit and look at the entire picture. That’s all I’m saying.

GOLDBERG: It’s a very- and I say this with a huge amount of love. It’s a very white way to look at it.

HASSELBECK: What do you mean?

GOLDBERG: And I, I’m saying this with love, so I understand, because it’s never.

HASSELBECK: Let me take off my “white” goggles.

SHEPHERD: You can’t. I wish you could. You can’t.

GOLDBERG: But you can’t. That’s what I’m trying to explain. This, for us, is totally- it’s not an experience I can explain to you. I can’t explain why black folks are saying “oh my God.”

My point of this is not to say anything about the presidential candidates or who should vote for who or why, but to point out this widespread notion that white people don’t really have white goggles (which Hasselbeck said sarcastically). I just wanted to appreciate W.G.’s point (which you don’t hear much on network television that much) that people need to be more aware that there are just some things that white people cannot grasp about what it means to be black. It shows so much when E.H. said, “There has never been a president that looks like me,” of course completely missing the point so much. I understand the difficulty of being white and wanting to be a good white person and not racist and to be neutral. Yet, it is only when we understand that we benefit from being white whether we want to or not, and that white is not neutral, that we can begin to get at the heart of the structural racism that hurts so so many people. We can’t take off the white goggles. The point is not to take them off and be all neutral and good, but rather to notice them, see what they do, and take the often hard steps to break down the racist structures that so fundamentally shape our society.

3 Responses to We can’t take off the white goggles, people.

  1. Lizard Eater says:

    I wish we could get E.H. to do the Thandeka exercise — for one week, you have to refer to all of your white acquaintances by their color, e.g. “My white friend Elizabeth.”

    Hmm. That’d make a great tv “piece.”

  2. Clyde Grubbs says:

    This is very good post Elizabeth,

    Good to see you are continue to struggle against systemic oppression in all its forms.


  3. Chuck B. says:

    I like the post alot. I would also like to hear more about the Thandeka exercise Lizard.

    I would say this though, I am African American and I have white friends who seem to have no problem taking off their white goggles. Or at least stopping for a moment, rolling their eyes and saying “Oh..yeah white goggles, I get it.”

    I’ve even met a few who I suspect never wore the goggles, or had them shattered at an early age.

    Me? I spend my time trying to look beyond my Male Goggles.

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