It’s About Race…And It’s Not

Cecilia Wessinger
5 min readFeb 2, 2022

The complexity of representation and identity


This morning I woke up to a couple of items related to race/ racism. In my news digest, there was a story on Whoopi Goldberg being suspended from The View for saying the Holocaust was not about race. Across the Pond, my fellow writer, the ever eloquent friend, Beth Collier wrote an insightful piece about the lackluster apology offered by BNP Paribas’ head of legal, Benedict Foster.

When I read about Whoopi’s comment, my initial reaction is she’s wrong and not completely wrong. I don’t say this to minimalize the hurt she triggered by her comments. Being categorized Jewish is in itself complex, as shared in the Jewish Women’s Archives,What constitutes Jewishness? (Is it a race? An ethnicity? A religion? A nationality?) The answers to these questions are not fixed but rather are constantly shifting, especially in a modern context in which people have multiple, sometimes competing, identities.” On the air, Whoopi said, “But these are two white groups of people.” “This is white people doing it to white people, so y’all going to fight amongst yourselves.” It is unfortunate that she minimalized the Holocaust in those terms, for which she has apologized. Throughout history there have been massacres and when they are done among people of the same nationality, we term them ‘civil’ wars, which is ironic. According to my brief Google search, during the Russian Revolution, 9 million died, and numbers range from 20–30 million in the Great Terror. The Cultural Revolution (more horrible nominclature) guesstimates hundred of thousands to 20 million, and there are entire Wiki pages on African genocides. This by no means trivializes the precious lives lost during WWII. Basically, this happens way too often and it sucks, and when you’re connected to the group referenced, it will touch you deeper; and when you’re not, you might share a retort that feels callous.

Whoopi said, “It’s about man’s inhumanity to man”, which is true. It is about race, and it’s not and it’s not just about race. It’s not either/or; more than one thing can be true; this is the nature of complex, adaptive systems, in other words, this is how the world…

Cecilia Wessinger

Community & Ecosystem Builder, Collaborator, Catalyst, Speaker/ Facilitator. Lover of words, ideas and people.