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Watching the film Whitewashed in class was a truly informative experience for myself, one that I feel was enlightening and left me feeling a certain weight on my shoulders as I exited the classroom. The film was on the topic of “whiteness”, which was a topic I had previously thought I was very knowledgeable on. In just over thirty minutes, I was introduced to questions I hadn’t seriously considered before, a legacy I didn’t know I was a part of, and the desire to leave a different legacy behind for future generations.
As a woman, I’ve always faced certain prejudices or mistreatment. Some of those I noticed at a very young age, such as being “cat called” while walking to a friend’s house at just thirteen years old. Some of these prejudices are much larger in scale, such as the wage gap. However, Whitewashed showed me that despite facing a certain amount of prejudice in my life as a woman, I was still a white woman. And because of that I would always have a privilege that women of color wouldn’t have, which was very disheartening to learn. As the film progressed, I noticed that I was on the same journey as many of the participants. Questions were being asked such as “what is it like to be white?” and I found myself taken aback. I hadn’t thought of it before, just as many of the white people on the film hadn’t thought of either. I believe it truly is a privilege to not ponder upon the color of your own skin and how it will affect you throughout the duration of your life; how your skin color can mean life or death, even. With that privilege, I believe, comes a responsibility: a responsibility to demolish certain privileges awarded to one race and not others when you’ve done nothing to earn that privilege, to ensure that one race is not held in a higher regard than another, and to protect all races from injustices due to their race.
Unfortunately, it is still something I do not have a full comprehension of quite yet. I don’t fully understand how whites came to obtain this privilege and why we still possess it years and years after the abolition of slavery. I do not know why we as a society, culture, and country allow injustices to happen to people just because of the pigment of their skin. I feel saddened that in my twenty years of living, I have not stopped to consider the allowances that have been made for me just because of the color of my skin. I’m even more saddened by the fact that, despite wanting to take certain actions to ensure this does not happen in future generations, I’m not sure how I can help facilitate change.
On some level, I believe that the first step to making changes to our society is recognizing the faults in it, something this film has opened my eyes to. I can only hope that this course continues to bring these issues to light and furthermore, help me in my desire to help all races be considered equal in the near future.
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