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.