A really interesting topic came up in our discussion today about the young woman who shared her very emotional reaction to the slavery reenactment. It was the first time I have seen a white person display apologetic emotions from slavery.
Suddenly she says, "I can't believe my ancestors did that to them. I have an African American friend." we talked about why the identity of the friend was important In relation to her reactions of guilt. A few of our students were lead to believe that it was a "publicity stunt". I admit it did catch me off guard and seeing that I wasn't aware of the comment about the friend. I immediately thought about the presidential apology of those who were survivors of the Tuskegee syphilis study. The apology was accepted but it didn't change nearly thirty years of immoral practice of medicine.
Another student mentioned a key idea behind white guilt. It does no justice to simply "feel bad" Don't feel bad about what was done feel a way about not using your identity to change what issue we face now.
That is a reality check for all of us place action behind your sympathy and avoid the self focus by allowing guilt to run your mind. It's not about you. It's bigger than your sympathy.