When you hear the phrase “white girl,” you probably think of the stereotypical Starbucks-loving, UGG-wearing, One Direction–sobbing mess of a girl with blonde hair and blue eyes. Many social activists, especially ones who promote racial equality, use this term. I know I'm at fault for using it to describe myself and others — sometimes in a joking way, and sometimes in a hurtful way. But lately, I've begun to see the problem with doing so.
Minorities often feel we need to try our hardest to create an environment that's equally safe for people of all races and religions, yet we use words that are degrading to white people in our attempt to do so. We moan and groan about various insulting words thrown at us, then turn around and follow suit. The term "white girl" has become a negative term, and as such, it hurts others.
Can we say that all white teenage girls fall under the "white girl" stereotype? No, we can't. Yet the term has become so common that I've even come across bios of some users on social media sites that state "sorry I'm white." These girls are experiencing the same gut-wrenching feeling I once had about my own race and it pains to me to see that these teenagers are feeling sorry for the way that they were born.
Growing up, I hated hearing racist terms like "Oreo” and the n-word. I envied my friends with lighter skin colors, blonde hair, and blue eyes. I wanted to be just like them, but by envying these women I ended up hating myself. That was the worst period of my life.
So why would I help create a world in which other young girls experience the same pain I did? Why would I want them to feel the same hatred, built from constant pokes and taunts, that I did? Who are we helping when we make white people feel this way? What good does creating resentment toward those who use this term do?
I'm not saying that change will happen quickly or that this term can or should be cut from everyone's vocabulary in a matter of hours, weeks, or months. I still slip up and every so often make a comment like, “You're a white girl.” I also don't expect that everyone will fully agree with me that we should get rid of this term altogether.
I am simply asking people to take into account how the words they use affect other people — especially people of color, LGBTQ people, and women who feel angry about the degrading remarks they hear almost every day. People who feel unsafe and wish for equality should especially understand that they shouldn't make anyone else feel sorry about being themselves.
We can't allow anyone, no matter who they are, to feel as if their race is a problem or something for which they should apologize. Social justice activists like myself especially fight for equality and the ability to love oneself, and therefore cannot add fuel to the fire of the idea that one race is superior or inferior to others. Nobody should be sorry for who they are, but everyone should be sorry about how we allowed this world to turn into such a hateful place.
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