Today's lesson, Racism. If you see something written here that you’ve said or done, use it as an opportunity. Take it as a wake up call and make the decision to grow, change and be conscious of your own privilege. Remember, I am not a speaker for the entirety of a people. Use this blog as a reference tool, not as the one and only view on the topic.
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Part of the problem with racism is that many who live under the umbrella of privileged, don’t believe that they are in fact, privileged.
I am going to address white privilege and how things that you may not notice are a part of it in a later post. Today, I want to talk to the people who are on that line. The people that are aware that they are part of the privileged but don’t know what they are supposed to do about it or how they are supposed to feel.
Newsflash: You are making it way more difficult than it has to be.
Acknowledging your privilege has nothing to do with feeling bad about who you are. It has nothing to do with bowing down or feeling guilt when you see a PoC. It’s about knowing when…
Knowing when to stay out of the conversation-It’s not that you don’t have valid thoughts, feelings or perspective. It’s that when two PoC are talking (specifically) about some sort of oppression, you don’t need to interject. Just listen. Take it as an opportunity to hear what they have to say about the life they are in. If you aren’t interested, that’s okay too. Just think about something else. Being a “Good ally” against racism is not about agreeing with everything a PoC says. It’s just about standing up against racism. It is so much more simple than some of you make it out to be.
Knowing when you are the solution-You know that saying “If you aren’t part of the solution then you are part of the problem?” Well guess what, the thing you don’t realize is that in this case, it’s the other way around. Yes, being a good ally means speaking out against racism. Absolutely yes. It also means that you shouldn’t be staying silent while you hear racist bullshit come out of someone’s mouth. You should fight against all things racist with everything you’ve got. The part that a lot of you aren’t realizing though is that when those things aren’t happening, when there isn’t a need for you to speak up, when there isn’t something for you to call out, you being you is helpful. Example: You are white. You are hanging out with four of your white friends. You don’t say anything racist. That’s it. Done! That’s the entire example. I don’t think many of you realize that the simple act of watching what you say when PoC AREN’T around is just as powerful, sometimes even more powerful than anything else you do. Setting an example. Do it. IT’S HUGE. I don’t think you all realize that.
Knowing when to take it in-I feel like one of biggest problems an ally for racial justice must have is knowing when to take it in. If you have two PoC giving you two different statements that oppose each other, which do you abide by? Well, both. I know this is confusing. This one, I do sort of understand. The good news is, the things that fall under this category are few and far between. When in doubt about how to speak, ask. I am not talking about asking someone questions about their race or things they’ve gone through. I mean, you don’t know whether to say “Black” or “African American” just ask. It doesn’t have to be a discussion. Don’t ask why. Don’t make it into something more than what it is. It’s just the term a person wants to be called. There is nothing to talk about. “Do you prefer black or African American?” That’s it. In most cases, you can take what they have said themselves. If there is even a need to say this in the first place, chances are, they have already addressed themselves as one or the other. There aren’t going to be a bunch of these types of things that come up so don’t sweat it. If you get it wrong you say “I am sorry. I didn’t realize.” Then use the correct term next time. That’s it. No discussion. Apologize and move on. Which leads me to the most important…
Know when to apologize and move on-This is almost always going to be the case. The worst thing anyone, ANYONE can do is not acknowledge that you have hurt or upset someone and not apologize. These two things are SO IMPORTANT. The thing is, they are so important but they are so small and easy to do. Do you realize that when you say something that offends someone and you REALLY didn’t know that what was coming out of your mouth was racist, if you apologize and let the person know that you didn’t realize what you were saying was racist that you can just fucking move on from there? There is no need for a discussion after you say these two things. As a matter of fact, the only time this ISN’T going to work is when you are clearly a racist trying to get away with something. If you are CONTINUALLY having to say “I’m Sorry. I didn’t realize. It will never happen again.” You DID fucking realize and we see you.
Don’t make being an ally difficult. It’s not. You can do it and you can be great at it.