Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement (reblog)

Entire libraries are filled with scholarship and wisdom about anti-black racism. Consulting companies exist to educate white people about anti-black racism. Free online anti-racism training is widely available and easily searchable. Poets, novelists, dancers, composers, film-makers, singers, bands, have devoted their careers to creating art that explores anti-black racism. I have nothing new to add. (And the reason why racism is still so prevalent is not because white people have had no one to teach them what to do about it. An Amazon’s worth of trees have been felled to make the paper on which books have been printed about anti-black racism.)

But I do have a gentle nudge: if you are looking for an entry point, start with this essay from 2017 by Ijeoma Oluo:

Your privilege is the biggest risk to this movement.

That’s right: the biggest risk. The compromises you are willing to make with our lives, the offenses you are willing to brush off, the everyday actions you refuse to investigate, the comfort you take for granted — they all help legitimize and strengthen White Supremacy. Even worse, when you bring that into our movement and refuse to investigate and challenge it, you slow down our fight against White Supremacy and turn many of our efforts against us. When POC say, “check your privilege,” they aren’t saying it for fun — they are saying it because when you bring unexamined privilege into anti-racist spaces, you are bringing in a cancer.

Your privilege is the biggest benefit you can bring to the movement.

No, I’m not just talking nonsense now. Racial privilege is like a gun that will auto-focus on POC until you learn to aim it. When utilized properly, it can do real damage to the White Supremacist system — and it’s a weapon that POC do not have. You have access to people and places we don’t. Your actions against racism carry less risk.

You can ask your office why there are no managers of color and while you might get a dirty look and a little resentment, you probably won’t get fired. You can be the “real Americans” that politicians court. You can talk to fellow white people about why the water in Flint and Standing Rock matters, without being dismissed as someone obsessed with playing “the race card.” You can ask cops why they stopped that black man without getting shot. You can ask a school principal why they only teach black history one month a year and why they pretty much never teach the history of any other minority group in the U.S. You can explain to your white friends and neighbors why their focus on “black on black crime” is inherently racist. You can share articles and books written by people of color with your friends who normally only accept education from people who look like them. You can help ensure that the comfortable all-white enclaves that white people can retreat to when they need a break from “identity politics” are not so comfortable. You can actually persuade, guilt, and annoy your friends into caring about what happens to us. You can make a measurable impact in the fight against racism if you are willing to take on the uncomfortable truths of your privilege.

Start there, but don’t stop there. Keep going.

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