My social circle is a pretty cool group of people, with generally reasonable views. But there’s a subject that will knock down any lively conversation in a heartbeat: racism.You see, we all like to think we’re good people. We’re not racists, because racists are bad people who think non-white people are different from us white people, and we don’t believe that, so we’re not racist. I notice the same when discussing other marginalised groups: “I’m not against trans people, I’m not gay phobic, I’m on your side, so back off!”.
I kind of felt the same when I read the following article: “how to tell the difference between real solidarity and ally theatre” at the awesome Black Girl Dangerous blog. I think as a white person it can sometimes feel like you can’t do it right. And there’s a ‘threat’ (notice the quotation marks) of another angry black person, another angry trans person, getting angry at you because you tried to be supportive but now apparently you didn’t get being supportive right and you know what, I’m doing this for you so if it’s not appreciated, whatever I’ll not care about trans rights any more if I’m pissing you off so much just saying I’m agreeing with you. Can someone get me a whaaaambulance?
Dutch people have the harmful habit of including a person’s background in a story if that person has a Moroccan background and did something wrong. “So these two Moroccan guys walked up to me” and you already know they were up to something bad, because that’s how these stories always go. But say something about it – was it really relevant these guys were Moroccan? – and the story teller will usually explode. “Jesus look you know I have nothing against Moroccan people, can you back off?!”.
I feel that too. I’m trying to do everything right and then it’s still not good enough. All of this just doesn’t feel nice for a white lady.
That’s privileged as shit, isn’t it? To think that my feelings are even of any concern at all. That I have a right to feel good.
When it comes to sex workers’ rights I’ve proposed giving anti’s a golden bridge out. But I don’t think it works that way way with racism. Instead I think white people need a bigger tolerance for feeling like crap. For letting it sink in that we don’t know best, are not leaders here and are messing up, and people not petting our heads when we refrain from doing harm but instead biting our heads off when we do.
So I started thinking, how can we get white people on board with this? What should we do to get white people to do all this? And then it struck me.
That all of this is really, really, really not about us. Not about how we feel. Not about what we want to do. What our role should be. That we’re not needed.
A shock to my white lady mind.