he's talking about burning, but i'm so cold.

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"I want you to know that this has nothing to do with guilt. I realize that none of the people in this room and none of the people in the other rooms to which I speak every single week in this country somewhere are the ones, who themselves individually or even collectively, are responsible for the creation of this system of inequality, of privilege, of oppression, of marginalization and that is not the point. I know we didn't create it, but we are here now and we inherit the legacy of that which has come before.

If you were to become the Chief Executive Officer of a company one day, you would not be able to go into that company and call your Chief Financial Officer on the phone and say, 'You know what? I want to look at the books. I want to know how much we have, what our assets are, what's our revenue stream. I want to know all that because I want to take us to new and greater heights.' So, you ask the CFO to come in and give you the Power Point presentation, the spreadsheets, and she comes in with all this technology and all this data and gives you the presentation. 'Here's our assets. Here's our revenue stream. Here's our outstanding debt. What do you think?'

You wouldn't be able to look at that CFO and tell her, 'You know, I really like your presentation. It's great to know we have all these assets and some really amazing income coming in. But the next time I ask you to come and show me that, don't bring me the debt material. All that stuff about what we owe because, see, I wasn't here when you all ran that up. That was that other guy. That was your last Chief Executive Officer. The debts of those older leaders? Those are on them. Have them pay them. I'm going to make use of the assets. Oh, yes. I'm going to make use of the income. Oh, yes. But I'm not going to pay the debts because they're not mine.'

You couldn't do that. You'd be ushered to your car by security. But that's exactly what we do as a society, isn't it? We say the debts are not ours. Oh, the glory is ours. All the stuff we have accumulated as a nation and as a people, that's ours. We don't mind living in the past as long as it glorifies us. That's what history books do. That's what July 4th is. We just don't want to own up to the part that's less flattering because we feel guilty.

But it isn't about guilt. It's about responsibility. Those two things are not synonymous. If we don't know the difference, we should look it up. When we get tired of living in the funk and the residue of that which has been given to us by others with no regard for the impact and the damage that they would do to us and to our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, if and when we are lucky enough to have them.

When we get tired of living in that residue, in that funk, and saying, 'enough,' we'll get busy cleaning it. Not because we created it, but because we are the only ones left to do the job. And if we don't, we will be back or our children and our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren will be back in rooms just like this one in generations to come. But I assure you that if they inherit this legacy as we have inherited this legacy, the stakes will be greater. The risks will be far greater and the odds of success and victory at creating justice and opportunity for all will be far more remote. And so if we don't want to see that day, it's up to us to get busy. It's up to us to take responsibility. Not because we are guilty, but because we are here.

- Tim Wise, The Pathology of Privilege, (53:46 - 57:05)


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