Willful Ignorance


Willful Ignorance by Lisa Blair

Willful Ignorance is a challenge to middle- and upper-class white America (liberals and conservatives alike). All too often, we stand behind our supposedly patriotic belief in American exceptionalism and our unconscious sense of entitlement, ignoring how these heightened (and yet false) experiences of ourselves were born on the backs of our Black, Brown, and Native sisters and brothers. These distorted experiences of patriotism and superiority forge an undeniable link between our violent, racist past and our current culture of denial, dismissal, and continued assault. We remain blind to the daily macro- and microaggressions against Americans of color, even as we insist (as Baldwin observed) upon securing our status as innocents. We white Americans remain dangerously disembodied from the reality of how insidiously racism affects us, too, in our minds and bodies, hearts and souls.

To add salt to the wound, we insist upon public personas that only perpetuate the problem. Whether on social media or in our face-to-face interactions with fellow whites, we insist on presenting ourselves always with smiling faces and a display of success in all that we do, in all that we are, relegating our faults, failures, and fears to our closets—closets locked so securely that we become naively unaware of their rancid contents.

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