…“My own racism”. This is a phrase that until quite recently (within the past year) I had never considered.
“But I’m not racist”, I thought to myself!
The very idea!! I’m a left wing, do-gooding sort, I’ve worked in the public sector nearly all my life, have an ‘ology degree and a Masters in Gender, for pity’s sake. Hell, I recycle my plastic, use compostable bin bags and didn’t eat meat for 36 years – How can I be racist?!
Newsflash, Becky, Hitler was a vegetarian…
Cue the beginnings of a journey to understand the many ways I am racist, in thought and deed. As well as the stark awakening that ‘being racist’ is not just about derogatory, overt, racist, hate-fuelled and ignorant language or violence, it is also about the daily biases and microaggressions that, as white people, we display because we live in a world where being white affords us more privileges than Black and Brown people, without us ever really recognising it.
For many white people this is shocking news still!
To hear that we are racist is, in itself, a bitter pill to swallow, often requiring a total reassessment of who we thought we were (and others). It also, personally speaking, has required a dawning and hideous realisation of all the times I have inadvertently behaved in a racist way and been completely oblivious to it, unlike the Black and Brown people I have harmed.
Once I was at least able to hear that I am indeed racist, my anti-racism journey started making progress!
No longer closed down to the word and its associations with me, I could open up to exploring how my racism is acted out, the many biases that I have and, most importantly, how I could begin to change. Care to join me?