Posted on December 9, 2022

White Women Must Do More To Confront Racism

Saira Rao and Regina Jackson, Time, December 3, 2022

In 2019, we decided to host anti-racism events in white women’s dining rooms for one specific reason: To turn the age-old adage, “it’s rude to talk about politics at the dinner table” on its head.

This is what we’ve learned—if you don’t talk about racism, you can’t dismantle it. But it isn’t just over the dinner table that this “niceness” rules.

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020, you were eager, frenzied even, to do this work. A mere two years later, not only is that excitement for anti-racism work gone, the pendulum has swung in the other direction, into a verifiable whitelash against anti-racism work.

It is this need for perfection that makes it impossible to engage in antiracism work.


White skin. The foundational principle of perfection in a white supremacist society like ours is rooted in whiteness. Without it, your A’s will never be straight enough, your MVP trophies not shiny enough, your flowery dresses a bit wilted. Of course, white skin alone doesn’t render you perfect, but without it, you have no chance. White skin is a necessary (yet still insufficient) ingredient of perfection. The con, of course, is there is no actual recipe for perfection, as there is no such thing as perfection.

This makes your endless quest for perfection a trap. You will never be pretty enough. You will never be thin enough. You will never be smart enough or successful enough or rich enough. You will never be enough.


White women regularly mention having been “burned” on social media for saying the “wrong thing.” You have been publicly humiliated, often at the hands of a fellow white woman, who is angling to show you how much more perfect she is at antiracism work. Yes, you even compete in the antiracism space.

Getting called out makes you want to stop the work, to stop engaging. If you aren’t already perfect at it, then you don’t want to have anything to do with it. Yet if you stop the work, you can’t make progress. Then there are those situations in which the critique of you is coming from a woman of color. This will hit you in a deeply uncomfortable place. After all, you are not used to having us challenge you—and on a topic we absolutely know more about: being on the receiving end of racism.

This, in particular, infuriates white women.

Us publicly calling you out on your racism. Us publicly telling you that you are not perfect.

Antiracism work depends on your acknowledging your imperfections, namely how you have been born into and nurtured by a white supremacist society. This means acknowledging that you are not the expert on how it feels to be on the receiving end of racism, which means you do not get to decide what is and is not racist. {snip}