I hated coming to the realization of what people of color potentially faced every day: I was a body; I experienced the world as a body now. In turn, others experienced me, first, as a body – a failing body – not as a soul, an intellect, or a conscience. My illness thrust me into a vulnerable space, and in that space I became a little more human. When I finally noticed my own body other bodies came into focus. Even though reflection did not come easily for me during that trauma, I was becoming a student of a new pedagogy, one of bone and blood. As Brian Bantum puts it, “Race is a de-creating word that signifies and separates; it renders some people always visible, always unique persons with names and stories, while other bodies are trapped within a story told about their bodies, making them utterly invisible or violently visible, unable to be anything other than their skin, eyes, and hair.” Whites tend to live as if we are unmarked racially; we exist within a sociopolitical norm where personal autonomy is taken for granted. The longstanding invisibility of people of color, coupled with the freedom of whites to navigate society unmolested, creates an empathy-gulf for most whites that is difficult to bridge.
From “Know Your Place: Helping White, Southern Evangelicals Cope with the End of The(ir) World” by Justin R. Phillips