I am white. If you are also white, this post is for you.
You might be one of those white people who knows that you’re racist. Or you might be one of those white people who desperately doesn’t want to be racist, and loudly insists that you aren’t. You’re the “good kind” of white person.
But I’m here to tell you that you, indeed, are racist. And yet, in a complex way, (admitting to) this fact is not a bad thing. It’s a good thing.
But wait a minute…
How could I possibly know you’re racist if I’ve never met you??? I am judging you so unfairly without knowing your personal experience or getting to know you! If anyone’s being judgmental it’s ME, right?? Well, yes, but I’m also being logical.
I’m NOT saying that you’re racist, therefore you’re evil. There’s a big different between conscious and unconscious racism, and liberal or “good” white people are far more often guilty of the latter.
What I AM saying is that if you were raised and socialized in a racist society you have internalized racist messages and racial prejudices which affect your thoughts, speech, and actions whether you know it or not.
You did not have control over this. What you DO have control over is what you do now: do you plug your ears and hum because you’re scared of your own shadow, or do you begin the slow and painful process of unearthing your internalized prejudice, having difficult conversations which make everyone uncomfortable, and pathetically try to be a better human being and help the world?
Hmm. I know one of those options looks a whole lot harder, but stay with me:
Being the “non-racist white person” is not only a crutch (and a false one) but it’s an active HINDRANCE when it comes to dismantling racism.
If you refuse to acknowledge what is there, you’re free to pretend there isn’t a problem and continue on with your biases nicely intact. What’s more, you’re far less likely to enter into a real conversation about race because you’re so afraid of how you’ll be perceived.
And so, I humbly ask you to stand and say with me, “I, ___________, am a racist. Because how could I not be? I grew up literally surrounded by racist messages, no matter who my parents were, no matter what neighborhood I grew up in, no matter who my friends were, no matter what media I consumed. It was always there. And now that I am willing to admit it I can begin to notice, question, and uproot my subconscious and unconscious racism and actively engage against racism instead of burring my head in the sand so I can feel good about myself.”
Ok, now say that 10 times fast.