Apparently if you’re a white dude smiling at a black dude, that’s racist. But if you don’t smile, that’s racist too. How many of you are already confused?
Students who attended a “Whiteness History Month” presentation at Portland College coined the term “White Guy Smile” while agonizing over whether or not a white person smiling at a black person is a racist microaggression.
The video clip begins with a white student grappling over whether or not to look a person of color in the eyes when he walks past them, whether him crossing the street if he sees a gang of black people ahead will offend them, and whether he should then explain to them why he crossed the street.
“There’s all of this stuff wrapped up in how we meet or do not meet each other’s eyes,” states the main speaker.
Another white female student then discusses how her black relatives will always talk about the “white guy smile”.
“That awkward smile, well then what are you supposed to do? I smile at everybody but then somehow I’m conscious of that and then I do the white guy smile.”
“As much as I don’t think of myself as having that awkwardness, there’s always that….am I doing the white guy smile or is that a normal smile?” she asks.