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Breaking The Cycle Of White Dependence
Posted: Friday, May 25, 2001

By Tim Wise

I think it's called 'projection.' When someone subconsciously realizes that a particular trait applies to them, and then attempts to locate that trait in others, so as to alleviate the stigma or self-doubt engendered by the trait in question.

It's a well-understood concept of modern psychology, and explains much: like why men who are struggling with their own sexuality are often the most outwardly homophobic. Or the way whites during slavery typified black men as rapists, even though the primary rapists were the white slaveowners themselves, taking liberties with their female property, or white men generally, raping their wives with impunity.

I got to thinking about projection recently, after receiving many an angry e-mail from folks who had read one or another of my previous commentaries, and felt the need to inform me that people of color are "looking for a handout," and are "dependent" on government, and of course, whites.

Such claims are making the rounds these days, especially as debate heats up about such issues as reparations for enslavement, or affirmative action. And this critique is a prime example of projection, for in truth, no people have been as dependent on others throughout history as white folks. More

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