Responsibility for Residue

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“It is surely not my fault that I was born, as with so many others, into a social status over which I had little control. But this is hardly the point, and regardless of our own direct culpability for the system, or lack thereof, the simple and incontestable fact is that we all have to deal with the residue of past actions.”

“Just as a house or farm left to you upon the death of a parent is an asset that you get to use, so too is racial privilege; and if you get to use an asset, you have to pay the debt accumulated, which allowed the asset to exist in the first place.”

“The notion of utilizing assets but not paying debts is irresponsible, to say nothing of unethical. Those who reap the benefits of past actions—and the privileges that have come from whiteness are certainly among those—have an obligation to take responsibility for our use of those benefits.”

White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son by Tim Wise

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