My experience learning about racism and white privilege has been a gradual process of learning the severity and unquantifiable injustice and pain racism perpetuates in the world. Awareness of systemic oppression such as racism and sexism for example, had a snowball effect of on me leading me to the conclusion that racism and sexism is everywhere today, perpetuated by societal and cultural institutions currently and for a long time. Group think, manufactured popular norms and fear of scarcity drive racist ideologies that go largely unchecked. Racial awareness is something people of color in the United States and other places learn intimately from early on in life. It is white privilege that I can learn about racial injustice at my discretion and as an intellectual pursuit vs a matter of safety and success. I believe one major obstacle to justice is many white people's denial of racism, their privilege and their to attempts to minimize its impacts. One definition of 'privilege' that resonates with me is; thinking something is not a problem because it's not a problem for you. This definition combined with the Martin Luther King Jr. quote "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere", inspires me to practice extending compassion to others for their life experiences, even if they're drastically different than mine. I believe if more white people understood the distinction between being a racist person and having a racist thought, maybe they would be less self defensive protecting their personal character and morale, and more willing to look from a different perspective. I imagine when we replace white guilt, with awareness and actions to restore justice and equality, we will make significant societal progress. Openly identifying as a racist white person, to me is an acknowledgement that my culture ( the tv i grew up wathing, media I still see, things I learned in school, etc...) is racist and influences me beyond my cognitive comprehension. I am racist because I am undeniably a product of a racist culture and environment, not because I actively hate or harbor disdain for people of color. It is a pledge for me to do my best to educate myself about racism, its sources, forms, implications and how I benefit at the expense of others due to my privilege. I try to talk to my white friends about race and systemic injustices. I also practice lovingly confronting people when I hear them say something racist or sexist for example.
Some systemic racism and sexism i see in our country is the disproportionate wealth and influence disparity. A specific example is the large lack of women and people of color in politics and business. The currency we use and value in America has pictures to glorify men of significance, George Washington for example who by some estimates owned more than 300 slave; an obvious contradiction to me, for a country that supposedly represents and promote freedom. Many schools and roads are also named after these men. Slavery has not been officially acknowledged by our government nor has any efforts been made to pay reparations, even despite the evidence linking many specific companies still in operation that have profited hugely from human slavery.
Here is a trailer for a Documentary about modern day slavery in American inmates that is legal and effects men of color at an alarmingly disproportionate rate.
So anytime I get pulled over by the police for a traffic violation for example, and they leave me with either or a warning or a ticket, I know I have my white privilege to thank. I try to acknowledge all of the extra graces in life I receive due to being a white man, and pass them on to others in hopes to tip the scales of inequality a tiny bit towards balance and ease my white guilt. If you don't know about the many innocent people of color that have been shot dead by police for nothing, without any accountability or reprimand, it's time you wake up!
I would love any and all comments and feedback and opinions. I invite critique and criticism so I may become more aware and sensitive. More ruminations on racism to come.