In the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, this post was linked to on a friend’s FB yesterday morning, and instantly a (white) woman took issue with the author branding all white people as racist, claiming that it’s just like feminists saying all men are rapists.
It’s not. It’s saying that just as all men are raised in a rapist culture, so are all white people raised in a racist culture. It has always been a racist culture. People of colour are forced to live within this same culture where white people are unthinkingly raised to be racist right from birth. Some of us white people try to be more aware of our white privilege and subconscious racism, but that doesn’t mean our culture is not still racist. A few people trying to be more self-aware does not mean cookies for the white people! It means we have to try harder to reach all those other people for whom their incultured racism is so much a part of them they don’t realise it; all those people who will read this piece and instantly knee-jerk with “But I’m not a racist – how dare you call me a racist!”; all those people who insist that they would be so much better allies to POC if they would just ask them nicely instead of using the nasty “R” word.
You know what? Fuck that shit. Fuck your racist tone arguments. It’s the same bollocks we women get from MRAs all the time (and guess what; WOC get a double-whammy! They’re expected to ask men to treat them as humans the way MEN want them to – and not mention the nasty “R” word either, just in case they inadvertently offend some bigot somewhere!) and really, it’s old. It’s tired. It’s unremitting bigoted bollocks.
Our (meaning white people’s) discomfort is our problem, and we should be picking it apart to get to its rotten core, not shooting the messenger. When you step on someone’s toes, you don’t get to complain over the way they ask you to get the fuck off their toes, man – you just get off their fucking toes and then you damned well apologise. You don’t continue to stand on their toes whilst being miffed that they didn’t ask you nicely enough.
To quote a friend: “I’ve had people tell me before that thanks to the kind of language I use, me and ‘people like me’ are making them ‘not care’ about feminist issues, which I’m pretty sure negates the entire point of ‘caring’ about an issue. If you see that something is unjust, the tone in which that’s expressed or the words used won’t change that injustice, and anyone who claims tone puts them off issues clearly didn’t care enough about that issue in the first place. I think anger and blanket statements are important to debate, because these issues aren’t abstract or rational, they’re about the dehumanisation of huge groups of people. Anyone who claims that anger makes them ‘not care’ about those issues likely thinks that they ARE abstract problems, in which case they need a healthy dose of reality and privilege-checking, not coddling.”
Anyone who responds to the blog post I’ve linked to above with quibbles about semantics or tone arguments really needs to go back and read it again. Because that post is aimed at YOU.
Start by admitting you are the product of a racist culture. Then get the fuck over your label and start working on unpacking your privilege.
(And whilst you’re doing that, think about some of those other privileges you may be carrying. Cis privilege for example. Het privilege, if you swing that way. Male privilege if you’re not female-presenting. Able privilege, if you’re that lucky. Western privilege, for every one of us reading this right now. We all have privilege. Some of us don’t know it yet. Have you examined your privilege today?)