By Corey Bush
My white privilege is the heritage of Irish immigrants and Anglo colonizers. It is the very land upon which I walk. Every breath I take is born from that historical coincidence of colonization, the intentional intake of immigrant labor from Europe to maintain economic dominion over the stolen soil. I am far removed from the transitional life of new migrants, well-set in a geographical tradition in Appalachia. But without that colonization, I would not be here.
Because of my heritage, am I racist? Am I a bad person? Why, no. Of course not! I am an individual and free to choose. I am free to express myself, to create myself regardless of the actions of my ancestors and those that shared my ethnicity who murdered and enslaved countless people. So I choose this: To stand against the structures put in place that profited my ancestors on the exploitation of others; To fight against racist supremacy; To stand against colonization and war perpetuated by these same nations descended from European colonizers.
I do not choose this stance because I am motivated by White Guilt. Far from it. If I am called a racist, for whatever the reason, it does not bother me. Sometimes I may make mistakes. Sometimes I may say or do something unintentionally racist. I take it and I learn from it, as shared human experiences. I am not motivated by guilt, no. I do not feel guilty for the crimes of my ancestors. I am motivated by shared need, love, and community in the common experience of humanity as we find ourselves in our historical conditions.
The shared conditions of those that don't share my skin color demonstrate the common enemy we must face. For our communities to live, we must work together in coalition with one another. The same government that under-fund schools for our children also over-funds the police system that imprisons them. We do not need saviors but solidarity.
Corey Bush is a queer disabled Appalachian writer from Kentucky. He is concerned with freedom, justice, and anti-racism in Appalachia.