NY Times Advice Columnists Provide Helpful Tips on How to Cure Your ‘White Guilt’

​”I’m riddled with shame. White shame,”

“Sugars,” The New York Times’ personal advice column, received an anxious query on Monday from a “white/upper middle class/cisgender” reader who just doesn’t know what to do with all that privilege.

“I’m riddled with shame. White shame,” ​wrote the reader, who of course identified as Whitey. “I feel like my literal existence hurts people, like I’m always taking up space that should belong to someone else.”

A Harlem native, Whitey was woken to his own whiteness only in college, where for the first time he was in a “75 percent white” environment.

In vain, Whitey has done the most to compensate: “I consider myself an ally. I research proper etiquette, read writers of color, vote in a way that will not harm P.O.C. (and other vulnerable people).”

In braver moments, Whitey even engages debate “about privilege with other ​white people.”

And yet what if all this just isn’t enough? “Part of my fear comes from the fact that privilege is invisible to itself,” he fretted, parroting Michael Kimmel (a sociologist lauded as “the most prominent male feminist” and ​who feuded recently with Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson).

“What if I’m doing or saying insensitive things without realizing it?”

But because the guilt will never go away, all Whitey can hope for is a way to use it for good. “Instead of harnessing my privilege for greater good, I’m curled up in a ball of shame,” Whitey wrote. “How can I be more than my heritage?”

The Times’ sage advisors, Steve Almond and Chery Strayed, took at face-value and offered sententious thoughts for those seeking better allyship.

Here are a few of them:

Almond said that Whitey, though having a lot to atone for, shouldn’t wallow: “We do live in a ​culture steeped in white supremacy and class bigotry, as well as patriarchal values. But the solution to this injustice isn’t to wallow in self-hatred. (…) You’re not going to empower others by disempowering yourself.”

But Almond, a white straight man himself, confessed that it takes time to recognize one’s own privilege: “It took me many years to begin to recognize these advantages as unearned, the product of corrupt systems stacked in my favor.”

There’s something to do about it: “You can’t change the story you were born into, Whitey. But you can be what bell hooks calls a “radical visionary” who uses privilege to define and determine truly equitable standards.”

But, according to Strayed, there’s a but: “You ask us how you can be more than your heritage, Whitey, but what Steve and I are suggesting is that you need to own it first. As you seem well aware, your race granted you privileges that were and are denied to people who are not white.”

It’s a privilege, wrote Strayed, that even the poorest of whites enjoy — that even the poorest white man should be ashamed of: “This is true for all white people in America, no matter how racially diverse their childhood neighborhoods were or were not, no matter how much money their families had or didn’t have, no matter how difficult or easy their lives have been. Every white person should be ashamed of that injustice.”

And the solution? Deal with it: “You don’t have to relinquish your heritage to be an ally to people of color, Whitey. You have to relinquish your privilege. (…) those painful and uncomfortable feelings are not the problems to be solved or the wounds to be tended to. Racism is.”

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