Can a white American comprehend the plight of a black American?

Or can a male understand the plight of a female?

Well! Let us suppose not. Then there must be a reason.

  1. Is it because of the white’s ethnicity? Then you admit that ethnicity determines capability, and hence, you are a ‘racist.’ In fact, you must admit that either a person cannot understand the experiences of another (see the second point below), or else that there is a genetic inability to understand the experiences of another, unless the two are genetically similar.
  2. Is it because a person who has not experienced one type oppression cannot understand another person’s oppression? Well, if you think this, then let us expand. Can a black person understand a woman’s oppression? Can a white woman understand a black’s oppression? Can an hispanic understand a black’s oppression? Can an Italian understand the oppression that an Irishman’s ancestors experienced under the English? Really, can any given person X understand any given person Y’s experience of oppression? Because such experiences have not been identical. So such experiences must not be mutually comprehensible, according to such logic.

In fact, it is possible for one person to understand another person’s experiences, regardless of how different that person’s experiences might have been. The basis of the positing of the concept of empathy is that a person can understand another person’s feelings, as long as they 1. know what that person experienced and 2. know what that person felt in reaction to that experience.

Granted, it might be harder to empathize with a person whose experiences are more different from ours than someone whose experiences are similar to ours. For example, I myself, a white American, could probably have an easier time empathizing with Barack Obama than with some poor white from the Appalachians. Because Obama and I have had more similar experiences, even though his ancestors were partly African!


3. If you think whites cannot understand the experience of blacks, do you believe blacks can understand the experience of whites? If so, you are racist yourself. Or, if you think males cannot understand the experience of females, but females can understand males, then you are sexist.

Really, if whites cannot comprehend blacks, then blacks cannot understand whites. And extending that logic, no one person can understand the experience of another.

(Actually, I believe that no one person can understand the experience and emotional reaction of another in full – but we can come damn close, and we can understand or at least empathize with people whose experiences are quite different).

In fact, to go on upon this matter, can a black American understand slavery better than a white American? I answer no. Because 1. Even if SJWs were correct about how experiencing oppression is necessary to understand it (why do they not think that it is necessary to be an oppressor to understand oppressors? Curious), no black person today has been a slave, and 2. You don’t need to have experienced a thing to empathize with it.

By a similar sequence of reasoning, no, a woman is not more able to understand sexism than a man.

To summarize:

Suppose you need to belong to group A to understand the sufferings of a member of group A. Then:

  1. Group A cannot comprehend its oppressors.
  2. More importantly, since any given group can be subdivided, member 1 of group A cannot understand the sufferings of member 2.
  3. Being a descendant of group A does not make you a member of group A.

The only way to avoid these conclusions is… empathy.


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