It’s Human Nature to Oppress, Says the White Guy

Luke Visconti’s Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
Why do white people think that they are better than anyone else, and think that they have all the rights, and that they should be the ones to decide who gets what, when all that they have, they stole, and raped, and murdered, and enslaved to get?

Answer:
The perception that oppression is a way to gain and maintain power runs deep in the human psyche. It’s not limited to whites; for example, Pol Pot, Baby Doc, Tojo, the Janjaweed and the Hutu extremists were/are not white.

In my opinion, we all have a tendency for oppression in our makeup. Clearly, some people have it more than others, but Hitler, for example, didn’t do it all by himself, and I don’t believe all Germans are evil.

The dominant culture in any company finds it easy to forget past oppression. That’s why most white people in this country think that it’s already a level playing field. I believe there are far more ignorant people than truly bigoted ones.

For example, I was on Bill O’Reilly’s show during the University of Michigan Supreme Court hearing, and he asked, “When are ‘these people’ going to get over it, the Civil War was over 100 years ago?” When I pointed out that the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act were just over 40 years ago, he turned red and conceded the point.

It took me a long time to truly understand how a level playing field is truly the best way to maintain my position in life.

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