Dear white people

These are the things I want to say to the white left. To the white right – I can’t even deal. 

Racism is not classism. I will not elaborate on that here today because I have so many little things I want to start with. The basics (…for basic people…) – let’s go:

Why is it offensive to call you white? Are you not white? We need to tick the same boxes you tick ‘white, black, asian, arab’ (and what is up with those categories – ethnicities, races, geographical places all mixed into one – why haven’t they fixed it yet?). How am I meant to call you out of your racism, or on institutional racism if I can’t even name my oppressor?

Black people and brown people are called such every day. And yes we are lowered when we are called such. And yes yes many brown and black people get offended when they are called these terms because of that but you are not. And yes yes yes I acknowledge the viewpoint that we are all human and we should stop using these terms. But we are not living in a post-racial world yet (if you believe you are, you’re wrong). Stop getting offended and start listening to what I am saying before or after I say ‘white people’.

The same goes for whiteness. When are you going to start accepting that whiteness exists. And unlike white people, whiteness does not refer to individual white people (tbf, often even white people does not refer to individual white people but if you were listening rather than getting offended you would know this). Whiteness is an ideology. Whiteness is superiority. Whiteness is eugenics. Whiteness is instiutionalised. Whiteness is all the statistics I could name but allow that because you are accessing this online so you have access to Google (and yes I mean statistics because that is all they have become because they happen so often, and only through you searching yourself for their names and stories will they become humans to you). Whiteness is the fact that race is man-made. Whiteness is cis, straight, white, middle and upper class, middle-aged men ruling everything – from what we learn, who how we learn, to who we punish and how we punish, to what we wear and how we wear, and where we live and how we live, and what we buy and how much we buy.

Why is playing the race card your defence? The fact that race crops up so often they made a card for it like birthdays should tell you race is a problem. And above all else, the fact that a person who faces racism is telling you a problem should tell you it’s a problem.

Why do you expect people of colour to tell you not only when you’re going wrong but how to fix it too? And why oh why do you feel like you need to tell us how to organise and heal. Being a good ally means letting those facing an oppression lead.

If you don’t understand terms like white supremacy, white privilege or even racism – Google it! We don’t always have the time, energy or patience to teach you all the time.

The facts are – race is socially construct by white people to maintain white supremacy. The fact that people causally say Noughts and Crosses is based in a racist world but can’t acknowledge it is literally this world not so long ago (and still remains this world in many parts of the world and in other parts of the world we’ve changed the ways we oppress people but still oppress people) baffles me.

And because I’m in a super generous mood (it is Ramadan)

Note: the above links are from quick Google searches. I have not read all the content on the websites so may not endorse all that they have on there.

I know my tone isn’t exactly welcoming and I doubt anyone who I need to say this to will actually read this post. And for that I acknowledge my shortcomings and will work on my delivery. But these are things I want to shout so instead I am writing them here.

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28 thoughts on “Dear white people

      • You seem to be speaking to black, brown, white people as though they were each a homogenous mass. Some are offended, some are not. Some are offensive, some are not. Good, bad, lazy, clever, athletic, devious, generous: there is no characteristic that is not represented in all races, almost certainly in equal measure.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Well, like I said, I do understand your frustration. And I’m deeply sorry that your personal experience wasn’t happier. Identifying your enemies by their colour actually plays right into their hands. It encourages them to draw battle lines on colour grounds. Identify your enemies by their actions. Then benign folk, who happen to be the same colour as your enemies, have no reason to feel kinship with them. Keep pushing but recognise your allies.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Just a shout-out Noughts and Crosses!

    Took me a long time to finally read the novel, which I did about a month ago. There were SO many parallels with that book and this world, and it just proves to me how prevalent racism still is. The fact that it’s woven so tightly into the fabric of society is terrifying. The simple bit about the brown plasters not being made with Noughts, and the Crosses being paid more positive attention, and history being made with Crosses in mind, erasing stories of Noughts. Just, yeah, that’s life right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It still remains one of my favourite books even though I read it when I was like 14 or something. (bdw I saw on Twitter the other day, a company had made nude plasters for people of colour! Small steps but it makes such a difference)

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m not offended by being called white, because I am (well, some weird shade of pinkish gray, anyway). I’m not offended by saying that I have white privilege, because I do. But I am mildly offended by the notion that I, or probably a large majority of whites, get any say in how the things are ran just merely because of the skin color. I don’t have any control over hiring, admissions, contract assignments, rentals, or anything that can in any way make an impact. Other than constantly running a bias check, going out to a protest, or participating in the political process, I got nothin’.
    If you have any specific ideas how I could help, I’d like to hear them. This might be a good topic for a whole post.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for your honesty and your comment.

      Are you referring to me saying “And why oh why do you feel like you need to tell us how to organise and heal. Being a good ally means letting those facing an oppression lead.”. If so, I am referring to BME students and people told they can’t have self-definining spaces only?

      Or are you referring to the fact it is only the ruling class who get to make these structural changes, and therefore you’re offended by someone who is not part of this ruling class being tainted with the same brush?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure what “self-defining spaces” mean, so I can’t answer the first question. (I also had to google “BME”, and I’m not sure I found the right definition 🙂
        I have no problem letting someone else lead, if that someone knows about the oppression more than I do. What might be a problem is being put in a position where I’m both an ally (because I’m against discrimination, police profiling, segregation, voter disenfranchisement) and an enemy (because I’m white).
        “Offended” is too strong of a word, which is why i added “mildly”, but I was referring to the fact that there is a ruling class that gets to make changes which I am not any more a part of than you. Luckily, we live in a sort of democracy, where a large non-ruling class majority can sometimes help enact changes as well. And it’s much easier to get to a majority if the struggle is not framed as being against a skin color of a large portion of the population, but as a way to fix a specific problem that anyone can relate – like police brutality or school funding disparity.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I think we’re on the same page then. Whilst I’ve been working in activism a lot of the time we had white allies telling people of colour they can’t have meetings that are safe spaces (only allowing for people of colour) so that they could organise. Only they know their oppressions and can decide how they want to deal with it. Then they can let their allies know and together they can work together to acting out the plan. This method has worked in the civil rights movement and has worked in wins here in the UK such as getting black students officers and tackling the BME attainment gap (which the educational leaders have been ‘dealing with’ for over thirty years without closing it at all but as soon as BME academics got involved they’ve significantly reduced it).

        (Also BME = black and minority ethnic. It’s a term used largely by the state to mean ethnic minority. In the student movement it’s typically defined as those with African, Asian, Arab or Caribbean decent but it’s essentially equivalent to the America term ‘people of colour’)

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for this! I agree with you. I had no say in who my parents are. But I’m grateful for my very mixed heritage. I have a lot of Eastern European in my lineage.
      Personally, I’m not seeing racism in my little world. The President of my country is “black” although his mom was white. His amazing wife is very well-educated and black. His many advisors and Attorney General are black. I live in mixed race neighborhoods, I love mixed race churches, my red-blooded and white nephew married a black woman and they have 4 of the most awesome young adults I know. They were home schooled and their parents worked their butts off to provide for them. Their ski lessons were paid for by their rich black uncle….
      Anyway, I don’t want to argue, I understand your views. I just want you to know being white isn’t all that. My WWII hero-dad was raised by an illiterate Romanian refugee, whose husband abandoned him, his baby brother and wife. She was smart, started a beer garden with lots of poker games. My dad ended up becoming an alcoholic and gambler. But my white Irish mom was always grateful for a roof over her head and food she scrapped together for meals. I saw the need for a college degree to escape her poverty-she was a high school dropout after being raped and getting pregnant. I’m grateful there was no such thing as abortion as she lived to be my big sister and she gave me this super cool nephew who has 4 amazing mixed color kids!
      So I put myself through college and made myself privileged to get a great job….Now I’m retired and am enjoying watching my grandchildren grow. Their dad is very color blind as his best friend since high school is of different color and their neighbors are of different colors….
      So all that to say, I hope and pray you see we’re not all evil….

      Liked by 1 person

      • I absolutely do not think all white people are evil! I have many white friends.
        This post was in response to many ‘comrades’ who I worked with who would try and ‘help’ but actually not help at all.
        It’s great that you don’t think racism exists in your circle.
        This is an article that came to mind when I read about your dad being colour blind – http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/02/colorblindness-adds-to-racism/.
        I don’t think not being racist makes someone colourblind. For example I’m friends with black, brown and white people. But that doesn’t mean I’m colourblind – I know what they are. It just doesn’t mean I let negative stereotypes get in the way of our friendship.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Wow, thanks for that article! I never thought of it that way. I’ve been blessed to be around a diverse group. All my public education was integrated and I’ve worked in areas with very diverse colleagues. Our grandson is also in a very integrated day care. I just find it hard to believe racism is getting worse, not better….
        Any ideas on why?

        Like

      • I don’t think ‘racism is getting worse’ it is what it is and the way it appears has changed over time. For example, in my grandparents time he would get beaten up in the street and get spat at. In my dad’s time he would be refused work because the people in the shop don’t trust him – this was open and blatant. I think now, with equality laws and such, the racism is more hidden and more structural. So people of colour are still at an advantage but it’s not quiet as simple as being beaten up.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this post! Very timely as I was having this conversation recently with a man about feminism in which I was all “Seriously, you have to Google Feminism 101 on your own, man; it’s not my job to teach you the basics!” I’m about as white as white gets, and even though I am a working class drone living from paycheque to paycheque with no formal power, I know that my white privilege allows me all kinds of delicious perks, like not being followed by security in local stores, and not being killed by the cops for wearing a hoodie or driving too fast.

    When the proportion of people living in poverty, or being sentenced to jail time post-arrest, or heading up Fortune 500 companies, or running governments and businesses, or owning cars, or being killed by police, etc., etc., becomes perfectly representative of the actual mix of race in the general population, then you can stop pointing out my whiteness and discussing white privilege. My life is easier and safer than yours in so many ways, and this is not just a random genetic lottery, this is because of how people with power (who in our history were the white ones) have exercised that power upon the lives and bodies of the Other, and how unwilling we white people in general seem to be to either examine that or give it up.

    End of rant.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. White crayons, black crayons, white people, black people – it’s not the color on the outside that matters, it is what a person is on the inside. We did this to ourselves by judging people by the color of the skin, their gender, beliefs, etc. It’s unfortunate and shallow.

    Like

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