Debunking ‘Issues’ and Myths with Anti-Racism
Lets get some things clear.
Before I start this post, I want to explain a few things:
I do not have all the answers and I am not always right – do not take my word as scripture
I am in a current process of educating myself – if I am wrong, please tell me, correct me, educate me.
I will not and cannot possibly cover all the issues that fall under the umbrella of racism in this one post. I have tried to be as select has possible to make this coherent. More posts coming…
Get involved, use your voice and educate yourself.
I hope that if you are reading this right now, you have been engaging in the Black Lives Matter movement AND addressing racism. You have been reading, educating, donating, petitioning, protesting (if possible) – you have been talking to people, having discussions. If you haven’t – you need to.
If you have, it is likely you will have come across a large range of misconceptions/arguments surrounding these issues. I’m talking about the misconception of white privilege. I’m talking about that mosquito-of-a-phrase ‘All lives matter.’ I’m talking about the criminalisation of black people as ‘thugs’ and the exclusion of police from that label. The list goes on. And I am sure most of you will have had arguments with people about some of these. If you haven’t, I hope that it’s because you haven’t come across them, rather than because you were scared of calling it out.
I felt like there was so much of this and sometimes it can be hard to know what to say, especially if it is in the moment. So lets clear some of them up…
‘White privilege is an institutional (rather than personal) set of benefits granted to those of us who, by race, resemble the people who dominate the powerful positions in our institutions.‘ (Understanding White Privilege by Francis E. Kendall)
White privilege does not mean that you have not had struggles and it does not devalue those. It means that one of those struggles was not the colour of your skin. That your whiteness has not been a problem for you in life simply because, the systems within which we live were built by white people and not just hasn’t been an issue – but that your whiteness has benefited you. If you think it devalues your struggle, you haven’t grasped the concept. Re-read.
‘Describing and defining this absence means to some extent upsetting the centring of whiteness, and reminding white people that their experience is not the norm for the rest of us’ – (Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, pg 86)
As it stands, white is the norm – that is the privilege. So where does that leave POC? How can a system that wasn’t built for you benefit you? Silence is complicity.
No, this isn’t white privilege. However, you might have heard of the model minority myth. This seems to be tied to America but it’s not exclusive to the US. Asian minorities have been selected as ‘model minorities’ as a direct comparison to amplify the ideas of black people being uneducated and uncivilised. If you want to read more on this click here.
To my Asian readers, anti-blackness is common in our culture. Call it out. We have a duty. Silence is complicity.
“I’m not racist!”
You cannot be ‘not racist’. You are either racist or you’re anti-racist. Silence is complicity. You have to act, you have to speak.
“I’m nervous/scared of saying the wrong thing’
As are black people when it comes to encounters with the police.
Nervousness is fine as long as you are doing something about it, but your silence is complicit. Not saying anything is not enough. If you have access to the internet, to a library, to other people, you have resources to educate yourself, so that you don’t say the wrong thing.
Remember, mistakes are made, you’re gonna fuck up. But don’t victimise yourself and excuse it on being scared when you are able to use your voice, most likely your white voice to create change.
“All lives matter!”
Often heard in response to “Black lives matter” we have this ridiculous new slogan and movement. All lives matter takes the assumption that all lives have equality, that they all do matter. That is not the current truth. We do not have racial equality. Come back to me when you’ve dismantled all forms of racism.
‘Black lives matter, too.’
“I don’t see colour”
Really? You don’t see that George Ffloyd was black and the man kneeling on his neck was white? You can’t see that? You can’t physically see the melanin in my skin?
At the attempt of blind neutrality, those who believe this are ignorant of the way the colour of our skin effects our lives – black, white or brown. Whether it’s for good or bad, your complexion takes an active role in your life and ignoring that is beyond damaging.
It is not racist to use the terms ‘black’, ‘white’, ‘Indian’ etc. Recognise it for what it is and also the systemic, societal and cultural implications of it. To not recognise race is also a privilege. I refer you back to white privilege.
“Racism doesn’t exist anymore.”
If you have to explain this to anyone, I am sincerely sorry. To ignore racism is also a fucking privilege and blind ignorance. In this case, I have no straight answer or explanation for you but I can only encourage you to argue and explain. It is ridiculous and tough but completely necessary.
However what I can explain is the reasoning behind this statement. Firstly, when you haven’t experienced something you have a total disassociation with it and when you surround yourself with like-minded people you are unlikely to escape that. That is why I urge to you engage in these conversations if it comes up.
Secondly, and this is something I intend to write about A LOT more, there seems to be this mandella type effect that slavery, racism, segregation, colonialism and all things tied to it was hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Lets break it down:
The first slaves were brought to America in 1619 and Lincoln signed the emancipation act in 1863. That’s 244 years. However these dates are not exact. Much like now, just because something’s written in law does not mean it is followed. So the slave trade roughly spanned 244 years, likely more. It only ended 157 years ago. We are closer to it than the time it spanned.
We can do the same thing with British colonialism. The ‘first’ empire started in 1583 and the first Asian and African colonies rebelled after WWII in 1945. That’s 362 years. We are 78 years from its end. BRITAIN IS NOT INNOCENT.
Enslavement and colonialism are not the only forms of racism. It is the societal, cultural, economical, political long lasting effects of it. It’s the race pay gap, it’s the limited black narrative as to keep black people enslaved, it is the limitation of education and literacy that comes out in disproportional university numbers now. Racism hasn’t gone anywhere – it’s just sneakier. Less apparent.
“Violence doesn’t get us anywhere. We should be peaceful.”
Sure, police should be peaceful, violence doesn’t get us anywh-
Oh. You’re talking about protesters. You mean the people who are fighting for the right to live.
No, absolutely, American’s enslaved black people peacefully, violence doesn’t get us anywh-
Oh. Right, it was one of the most violent exercises of power in history.
Yeah, violence should be a last resort. So tell me why police brutality is so common in the US and the UK. And perhaps the bigger realisation should be that perhaps we are at the last resort.
“I’ve posted on Instagram and shared and read a few things – is that enough?”
No. It is not enough. Firstly, if you are posting things ask yourself if it is preformative. We are at the point now where awareness is not enough. Put the act into ACTivism and take action.
Sign the petitions, vote, write to your MP’s/senators, donate where you can, protest if safe and able, research and follow groups, read books, read critical theory, listen to podcasts, watch films/tv, stream those YT videos to donate for free via not skipping the ads, call people out on their racist behaviour, don’t let it slide, don’t let it be momentary.
Anti-racism is is a theory that has to be practised. “it is “[a]n active and consistent process of change to eliminate individual, institutional, and systemic racism”. So no, you posting a few things isn’t enough. Believing this is momentary, that a few days of posting is enough shows your basic lack of understanding of what racism is. You cannot dismantle hundreds of years of systems and beliefs with a few weeks of Instagram. You need to live it. You need to be actively anti-racist.
This one comes out in different forms such as ‘black people can be racist too’, ‘stop and searches happen to white people too’, ‘reverse racism exists’, ‘white people are becoming silenced’, ‘white people are going to become a minority!’ @ Nick Griffin.
Reverse racism is stemmed within the fear of the dismantling of white power. The unimaginable (!) fear that black people might attain the same power and rights as white people. Imagine that…
I mean just look at the words. It indicates that the effect will be the ‘reverse’ of current racism, inadvertently admitting to the existence racial oppression of POC and the fear that it might happen to them! God, imagine that ! (if you haven’t picked up on my sarcasm by now, I can’t help you) At this point, I’ll leave you with another quote from Eddo-Lodge,
‘White people are so used to seeing a reflection of themselves in all representations of humanity at all times, that they only notice it when it’s taken away from them.’ (Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, pg 140)
I have been writing this blog post for 3 hours now. There comes a point of self-preservation and this is not something that is going away. So today I’m leaving it there along with some resources. I have linked lists in the ‘-is that enough?’ section but here are some more:
Document with updating lists of active posibilities to support BLM:
BAATN – free mental health support services for black (and asian) but particularly black people:
BLM links card:
How to support anti-racist organisations if you can’t donate: