The Ignorance of White People About Black Pain By John Washington

By March 19, 2019 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Richmond, Virginia is the true home of the Confederacy. As a Native of Richmond, one of the things that I think of is Monument Avenue. It is a street in Downtown Richmond, where you can see a copious number of shrines and statues devoted to the Confederacy and what it represented. You will see statues of Robert E. Lee  (Confederate General), Jefferson Davis (The President of the Confederacy), and Stonewall Jackson (Confederate General). All of those statues invoke imagery of The South rising again from their ashes and taking back their country.

I remember during Middle School and High School, I would hear things like “the South will rise again!”, or “The Civil War was not about race.” , which speaks to the inner white culture of some Virginians. This inner white culture avoids sensitive subjects like race which is simply overlooked, or not even on the radar of some White Virginians, due to the deep-seeded notion of race is not of any importance to them. This inner white culture can be called white ignorance. This culture of white ignorance is clearly present with Ralph Northam and his yearbook photo.

For those who may not know, Gov.Ralph Northam (D-VA) has been associated with a picture from his Medical School Yearbook of someone doing Blackface, which on the same page as Gov. Ralph Northam’s yearbook photo. He claimed the yearbook photo of the person doing blackface was not of him. Ralph Northam may or may not have done it, but nonetheless, it was done and published in a University’s Yearbook. His school, Eastern Virginia Medical School, allowed the racist photo to be published, which speaks to the greater issue of ignorance amongst white people. The simple allowance of the photo getting published-when it had to go through an editor, then a publisher, and then the actual college- speaks to the ignorance of white people and not knowing the damage that it can cause.

Ignorance is described as a lack of knowledge. Some white people are truly ignorant of the pain and the emotional reaction of a black person seeing a white person doing blackface. Such an image brings vivid details of a big red mouth, a dark-skinned black person who loves acting like a “coon”  for the enjoyment of white people; which brings an inner pain that hurts the soul and the essence of every black person in America. That image of blackface reminds black people of a time when your skin, lips, personality, and culture were considered an ugly dark stain in America. White people are ignorant of Black pain. That pain and ignorance are ingrained into the white culture, which is sadly not even recognized by some white people. To lead someone out of this ignorance is to educate them on their ignorance.

The word Educate comes from the Latin root word “Educere”, which means “to lead out of”.   Some white people must be lead out of ignorance that has consumed them entirely. So the question lays in hand, whose job is it to educate? Is it the job of Black People, or the job of White people?


  • Ikeba Allen says:

    Strong peace! Even stronger finish and question! I do feel Black people should not have to educate White people about their blatant disrespect and disregard. There are many books, films, and interviews that expresses our feelings and pain. It is up to the individual to educate themselves and have enough love in their heart to break this cycle of ignorance.

  • Raquel Thomas says:

    I loved this! I believe that it is not the job of Black people to educate oppressors about our plights that stem from problems that they caused. There are thousands of texts written by Black people that detail the experience of being marginalized in the American and global society. It’s time for them to educate themselves.

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