‘You Don’t Look White,’ Reader Tells White Guy

The same reader who asks the White Guy why the descendants of African tribal leaders shouldn't pay reparations for slavery also questions his racial/ethnic identity. What does the White Guy have to say?

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.

The same reader who asks the White Guy why the descendants of African tribal leaders shouldn’t pay reparations for slavery also questions his racial/ethnic identity. Here’s what the White Guy has to say.

Ask the White Guy Luke ViscontiQuestion:
If you think white people owe reparations to black people for being slaves, why not bill the descendants of the ancestral African tribal leaders, who having won their tribal wars then sold the losing tribes into slavery to the white slavers as well?

I don’t think “white people” owe reparations, I think the United States of America does. Justice would be served if all people involved in the slave trade paid reparations; however, our country would benefit the most by an aggressive reparations program, because most descendants of American slaves still live in this country.

Reparations should be goaled to restore descendants of slaves to the median economic level of wealth in this country. It is important to define what reparations could be—it’s not simply handing a check to people. Remedial investments in education, housing and employment opportunity would benefit all Americans by lifting an oppressed group to enable them to achieve the human potential they were born with. I don’t think it’s that important to genetically justify reparations—all black people are subject to the racism in our culture. The percentage of people who would benefit from reparations but were not descendants of slaves is statistically insignificant.

It is the work of free people that creates wealth. Although our country has not been perfect, our human rights are what have made us a powerful nation. Reparations are a natural extension of that process.

You don’t look “white.” Are you of Italian descent? I thought Italians are Latins, not white. But there again, I might just be an ignorant white woman.

Ironically, one of my earliest memories is being told I was “passing” at a friend’s fourth birthday party in East Orange, N.J. No doubt that my ancestors have some African relatives—but so do yours. As the human-genome project demonstrates, we’re all from Africa and there is no such thing as race. Have a nice day, fellow person of African descent!

Recommended Articles


  • Federico Forlano

    I am of Italian heritage as well. Growing up I always got asked if I was Italian, Mexican, Jewish, Arab, Greek etc. It seems to matter to a lot of people for some reason.

  • Federico Forlano

    A follow up- Recently, I went to have a form filled out at a local government office. It only took a few minutes of time and the lady was very friendly. But after a few minutes of small talk I tried to be polite and let her know I needed to get going. She then said that she didn’t know how to ask me and said “What are you”? I asked what she meant and she said she had to check a box for “white”, “hispanic” or “native american”. I politely told her to choose one for me and left.

  • I have seen some eastern Europeans like Olga Kurylenko and Irina Shayk. I don’t know if they are considered white when they look some sort of Hispanics or Eurasians..

  • What’s considered “white” varies over time and space. There’s a couple of good books written about it. Race, as we know, is only a social construct not a scientific one. The concept of “whiteness” was developed to exclude certain people. Race is such a big deal in the United States that people identify you right away (sometimes subconsciously) and adjust their behavior accordingly. I recently read an article where a guy was considered white and spain but came to the US and was deemed “Hispanic.” People kept asking him what he was. Technically Hispanic is an ethic group because you can be white Hispanic or black Hispanic. But actually in the US Hispanic is in fact treated as a race. The US census helps to draw the white line by giving us categories to check off which also vary over time. There were times when Irish was considered black and when Jewish was considered black. For all of you beautiful relatively dark skinned but still white of southern European descent – check out the history of the Moors invading Europe. I’m told that’s where the dark skin comes from. It’s really all hilarious – except for the crimes of humanity that have been visited on African Americans since slavery.

« Previous Article     Next Article »