“Whitewashed” warps identity

Whitewashed warps identity

Calling all black students at H-F. Disclaimer! Apparently, if you don’t fit into the racial stereotypes laid out for you, that makes you “whitewashed.” Crazy, I know. 

Being labeled “whitewashed” is a common microaggression that many black people face, and honestly, it’s blatantly disrespectful. To be frank, I’m sick of hearing it.

The definition according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary is “to portray (the past) in a way that increases the prominence, relevance, or impact of white people and minimizes or misrepresents that of nonwhite people.”

The word is so clearly derogatory, which makes me question; why it isn’t considered a slur?

Different words stemming from “whitewashed” that take a more comedic side have even arisen such as “oreo”–describing someone who has brown skin, but is white on “the inside.” It conveys a black person who has adopted white customs, attitudes and behaviors.

Without knowing their true impact, these words are carelessly thrown around by ignorant mouths, stirring internal conflicts within its victims, warping our sense of self.

Many don’t realize that the presumably harmless word acts as a label, which leads one to question their identity. 

Of course, it has different impacts depending on who is using it.

When a black person brands us with the term, it causes us to feel as though we’re not “black enough.” Doing so creates cultural division, and makes us feel like outsiders in our own community. It leads to burdening pressures that make us feel as though we have to look, act or speak a certain way in order to fit society’s expectations of what a black person should be.

There is a stigma around what society deems as the “proper” way to speak. That being said, black people are often accused of “talking white.” Though, is it fair to say that just because someone is educated they’re considered to be acting white? Is that not basically saying that black people being smart is abnormal? All of these things reinforce the stereotype that black people are uneducated.

On the other hand, when a white person calls a black person out as such, it’s subtle racism. It invalidates our culture, sense of being and blackness. To say that we’ve assumed the identity of our oppressors is insulting and takes away from the progress that we’ve made on our own.

The underlying problem here is that no matter what a black person does or no matter how hard we try, we’re not being black the “right way.” If we fit into our forged stereotypes then we’re labeled as “ghetto” and if we don’t, we are whitewashed. 

A lot of people lack the ability to think before they speak or reflect on the impact of the words that they are saying. It’s important to think about what is and isn’t okay to say and the historical context of your words–it’s simply respect.

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