On Wednesday I posted about racism on the blog, and I made a statement that I now realise needs some expanding on. I didn’t add anything to that paragraph in the post at the time because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of making that statement and then saying ‘oh but not like that..’.
Saying ‘I’m a racist’ is not something to say lightly. Perhaps it was foolish, but I won’t erase it and pretend it never happened.
As I outlined in Wednesday’s post, I have been doing a lot of reading and listening this year, on issues of inequality and racial injustice. That has led me to conclude that I can’t dismiss racism within myself simply because I perceive myself as a ‘good person’.
I’ll state here that my use of we and our in these posts refers to white people and the dominant culture in Australia, as that’s where I live.
I am a white woman.
I benefit from white supremacy in my everyday life in such a way that I’m completely oblivious to it. It just ‘is’. I live in a society that’s very structures promote whiteness as normative and right.
I accept that white privilege is real. I believe it is so ingrained in our culture that we can’t see it.
Now that I know these very basic things, I have to hold myself accountable for being a beneficiary of white supremacy. The images that these terms conjure up are potent, and there’s absolutely no way that I can see into the minds of everyone, or anyone, who reads this and thereby mitigate any negative reactions that I may receive. That’s something I need to be okay with, as I have no other choice.
When I talk now about racism, I don’t see it meaning someone who yells racial slurs at people in the street, I don’t think of it meaning that I hold conscious hatred or prejudice for people who aren’t also white. For too long, we have associated racism with only doing bad things.
I see it as saying, yes, I’m aware now that I’m part of the problem. Until I go from someone who is a beneficiary of a system that favours me simply because of the colour of my skin, to someone who is actively ANTI-racist, then I’ve decided that labelling myself as racist or as someone who is working against racist structures, is the very least I can do towards acknowledging that the way that the world is structured is deeply flawed.
There’s something about this decision, that for me (and I can only speak for myself) has taken the sting out of the word racist. It’s a word we run from, it’s a word we fear, because we don’t want to be known as a bad person.
Blogging is an ongoing conversation with the internet. Single posts don’t contain all the information about a given topic. This is an incomplete, immature and tenuous process. I’m okay with that.
My main goal in writing about stuff like this is sharing my experience. If something I share can spark a conversation, or lead to someone thinking about something from a new perspective, that’s brilliant. If not, this blog has always been about my wanderings, wonderings and words, and this is where I am right now.
I am a novice. I will get things wrong. That’s part of growing.
4 thoughts on “Did you really just say that?”
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again now and, I’ve no doubt, I’ll say it again in the future,”You’re a bloody legend!”
I love this conversation.
It makes me so uncomfortable and I’m so very grateful for that uncomfortabilty… or uncomfortableness. Whichever is the correct word.
I want to embark on this uncomfortable journey too.
I know I have almost anything I want to have or do simply because of the colour of my skin and the country in which that very colour gives me ALL the rights. I want to be an advocate for change. I want to acknowledge my white privilege. I don’t know if I’m ready to call myself racist but I can certainly identify some of my behaviours that I’m not at all proud of. So I guess that must mean, yup I am. I’m racist. Whoa. I don’t want to be. I want to be different. People are wonderful and they matter. All of us really really matter.
Thank you Nettie for your thoughts, your brave wonderings.
First, thank you. I love you Sair.
Second, it’s SO uncomfortable, right?
Here we are though. Learning. Trying to be better.
Luckily (that’s not really the right word) for us, there’s no shortage of ways we can learn and change.
Let’s do this, together.
I was just saying this the other day! “Racist” is such a big word but I have to also accept that as a person of privilege (read: white), it does, in no small part, apply to me. Great conversation!
It is so big, made smaller as we face it and bring the conversation out in the open. It’s beyond time.