Being a white anti-racist is a complicated role to fill. By being white, by occupying a privileged status, I am benefiting from a system of oppression. I am consistently questioning my thoughts and reactions to everything.
Many of my white “friends” think I’m really weird. They think I’m a race traitor, although they won’t actually come out and say it. But, for me it’s more important to reject whiteness and all it stands for than to embrace it. I’m not proud to be white for many reasons:
- it is part of a system that dominates
- historically, whiteness has killed, raped and colonized
- being proud of a status that dominates and oppresses whole groups of people is, in my opinion, pathological
Although I reject whiteness, I do not reject being white. See the difference? Whiteness is the culture of domination and subjugation. I reject that, as I reject the dominant’s society’s ideas. But, I am white. I do experience white privilege, therefore I will never know what it is like to be brown or black or red or yellow in this world. Never. You see where I’m going with this?
It’s hard for many of us white folks to grasp this concept. Number one, it has always been about us and so when it isn’t about us we tend to get on the defensive. Number two, white guilt plays a huge part in rejecting our white privilege. We like to think that by saying “sorry” to every person of color that somehow we are absolved of our racism. We’re not. I think the only way we can attempt to be anti-racist is by action. Not words.
I don’t think being a white anti-racist should be something that is congratulated. It should be expected, in all seriousness. I don’t want a cookie for being a decent human being.
Don’t get me wrong, I am far from perfect. I slip up and some racism comes out that I didn’t even know existed. But, at the end of the day we all harbor oppressive thoughts and feelings, but the question is: Are you taking accountability? Responsibility? Are you repeating the same mistakes over and over? These are questions that everyone should ask themselves in relation to all forms of oppression.