My awareness 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, has had a snowball effect on me, leading me to the see that racism and sexism is all around, 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 because of my white privilege, that I can learn about racial injustice at my discretion or as an intellectual pursuit vs. a matter of safety and success. I believe major obstacles to justice is many white people's denial of their own racism and privilege and their attempts made to minimize impacts of racism. One definition of 'privilege' is thinking that 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 having a racist thought, making assumptions based on race vs. being a racist person, they would be less defensive protecting their personal morals and more open to a different perspective. When we replace white guilt, with awarenesses and actions to restore justice and equality, we will make significant societal progress towards equality. As a white person who wants to end racial injustice, I openly identify as a racist. I acknowledgement that my culture ( the TV i grew up watching, media I still see, things I learned in school and heard from other authority figures, 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, disdain or want to oppress 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 like 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 leadership in politics and business. The currency we use and value in America has pictures to glorify men of historical importance, George Washington for example, by some estimates owned more than 300 slave; an obvious contradiction for a country that supposedly represents and promotes freedom. Many schools and roads are also named after men from America's past that actively participated in Slavery. Slavery has not been officially acknowledged by our government, nor has any efforts been made to pay reparations, despite the evidence linking many specific companies still in operation that have grown and profited hugely from human slavery.
Here is a trailer for a Documentary about modern day slavery in American prisons 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. 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.
1. Selekta Faya Gong - Pull it Up Reggae Show