And so are you.
But we are.
As human beings, especially those of us who are white, or white-passing, particularly those of us raised in white dominant countries, we have been raised in racist structures, with a racist view on the world, whether we like it or not. Whether it’s because of our history, or who wrote our laws, or who currently leads or governs, or how we’re educated, or what images we see presented in the news or other media around us, we cannot escape the racist prejudice and bias around us every day.
This is not for us to shame each other, or to feel guilty for our complicity in racist structures, but simply a statement of fact.
Robin DiAngelo explains it so well in her book White Fragility, which is primarily based on America, but has lessons for us all, no matter where we are in the world.
“I know that because I was socialised as white in a racism-based society, I have a racist worldview, deep racial bias, racist patterns, and investments in the racist system that has elevated me. Still, I don’t feel guilty about racism. I didn’t choose this socialisation, and it could not be avoided. But I am responsible for my role in it.”Page 149, White Fragility – Why It’s So Hard To Talk To White People About Race, Robin DiAngelo
Strange as this may be to hear, this is actually good news!
Once we accept that we cannot possibly have avoided being conditioned towards some form of prejudice or bias – conscious or otherwise – then we can stop wasting energy and effort denying, deflecting and defending ourselves against potentially being called or seen to be racist.
“When I start from the premise that of course I have been thoroughly socialised into the racist culture in which I was born, I no longer need to expend energy denying that fact. I am eager – even excited – to identify my inevitable collusion so that I can figure out how to stop colluding! Denial and the defensiveness that to maintain it is exhausting.”Page 149, White Fragility – Why It’s So Hard To Talk To White People About Race, Robin DiAngelo
Imagine how much easier it would be for us all to learn, adapt, and to receive feedback from other people on our actions if we were starting from the basic premise of accepting we can and will make racial assumptions, generalisations and judgements? How much safer would black people and people of colour feel to raise issues if they knew they would be believed and heard, listened to and understood? How much further would we get, and faster, if we were all starting from a place of letting go of resistance, and embracing acceptance?
I want to make it easier to talk to people about racism. I want to make it safer for people to correct me if/when I have made mistakes. I want to get quicker at acknowledging and understanding the mistakes I am making, so I can self-correct without anyone having to waste time and energy educating me.
This starts with accepting that I am racist. I have been raised in a racist world, with racist biases and prejudices. But I don’t want to be. I don’t want to be part of a system that unfairly benefits some while specifically hurting and holding others back, simply because of the colour of their skin.
Thankfully, I have a choice. As do you.
We can choose to be anti-racist.
As Ijeoma Oluo, author of So You Want To Talk About Race says: