Perspectives on Race

A Discussion about Events Concerning Race

Can White People Know What It’s Like to Be Black?

with 9 comments

I’m taking a course with a black theme, but ironically, our instructor is white. At dinner with a few friends from class, I remarked that although he seemed incredibly aware and sensitive to black struggles, it was still mildly awkward to hear him say certain things about black topics. I’ve noticed that some of the black guys in the class literally cringe when he says certain things. I feel that no one can ever really know the struggle of another group. I know what it’s like to be black, but I have no idea what it’s like to be Hispanic or white. I can’t say “white people think like this.” or “Hispanic people value these things.” Although he may have a lot of black friends and studied all there is to know about “blackness,” he can’t truly understand what it’s like to be black. This is what I think some in the class are sensing and find discomforting.


Written by chrissybear

March 29, 2010 at 10:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. I don’t think that other races really know what it is like to be another race. I’m white and definitely do not relate to a lot of what the books/readings talk about. I put a lot of that on the fact that I’m not black and have not really had to go through the same struggles that they’ve had to go through in their lives. I can imagine what it’s like but can never know first hand what it’s like.


    March 30, 2010 at 4:22 pm

  2. I think you can never know what it is like to be another race. I feel like this happens all the time where people try to compare different races and how they would feel about certain issues. It makes me upset because you can never know the struggles of a particular group if you are not that race.


    March 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

  3. the only thing we can do is to sympathize with people from other races outside our own and try to understand what they are going through.


    March 30, 2010 at 10:39 pm

  4. I used to feel the exact same way and thought that it was just impossible for people of another race to understand the experiences of African Americans. But the truth of the matter is that academics is much more than just experiences. And as someone who just had to sit through a history lesson on slavery and Civil Rights as taught by a white professor while being the only Black person in the class, it can be extremely uncomfortable but very possible. And, my two years in college have taught me a lesson I hope everyone learns and never forgets: The similarities among the races outnumbers the differences between them by far, and to say that a person of race A can’t teach about people of Race B is to say that our differences are insurmountable and I think this class proves that this isn’t so.


    March 31, 2010 at 12:11 am

  5. I agree with you when you say that no race can understand what’s like to be another race. Yet, i don’t think the instructor is neccessarily saying he knows what’s like to be black because of course he isn’t. I thin he actually is trying to give his educated opinion on matters, which is being taken wrong.


    March 31, 2010 at 2:13 pm

  6. No one knows exactly what it means to be a person to be another race because they aren’t going through the daily lifestlyes of a person of that race. Many people form ideas and thoughts on what they think another race may be like or what its like to be “black” or “white” but unless you are that person of another race how can you understand what that person truly goes through.


    March 31, 2010 at 2:16 pm

  7. I agree with you I think no matter how many books a person reads and how long they study a certain race they can never truly know what its like to be that race. We all have our assumptions and stereotypes of each race but we don’t actually know what its like to be a part of that race.


    March 31, 2010 at 8:58 pm

  8. I also agree. I think it impossible for one race to understand the struggle of another. It is even hard for a guy to understand what it is to be a girl and vice versa. I would really be uncomfortable taking the class. However i do think it cool that there a white trying to teach people about the black community. It is really rare to see that happening.


    April 1, 2010 at 12:30 am

  9. I agree. you will never know what its like to be aa certain race unless you are in their skin. I have also had this happen to me having a white teacher for African American experience. Yes you may have a degree in this but its really hard learning about something frm someone who has never experienced it.


    April 1, 2010 at 3:32 am

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