So here’s the first of several posts I want to make to address some of the feedback I’ve been getting. The first is from my amazing friend whose name I won’t be posting until I have permission. She is a badass budding anthropologist and woman of color. Here’s what she said…
“I do know from experience that white guys worry more than anyone else about this topic and it always confused me.”
Why DO a lot of white guys worry so much about how big their dicks are? Can any white males address this? Are you just worried you’re small, or is it about besting another person or worse, besting another race? (Let me just give you a memo: The more YOU worry about it in front of the person you’re sleeping with, the more THEY will also think about your potential smallness.)
“I’ve noticed that men tend to not like black people more. Almost every single white friend I have. Father or grandfather are racist. Like they can work with poc, talk to them but dear god none in their house. It’s like the movie Save the Last Dance. ‘Oil and Milk don’t mix.’ …your post about your grandfather reminds me of all those cases because it’s not that they KKK hate black people, but they Jesus had to be white hate black people”
Two things: 1. I, personally, don’t have any concrete religious beliefs. 2. I’m not sure how any ultra-religious bigots would even FIND this blog. So for the time being I’m not going to address the “Jesus had to be white” stuff other than to say gee, it sure is a convenient belief in countries that were established (or colonized) by white people.
One thing I have noticed (and that is pointed out all over the internet, all over social justice literature, all over anything related to intersectionality) is that sexism and racism are inextricably, almost endlessly linked. My grandfather, for instance, once told me that women have to keep men in line because otherwise, men will act like animals.
“But isn’t that insulting to men?!” I asked, incredulous. I’d never seen my grandfather act like an animal in his life.
“No,” he said. For him, it was just the truth.
My grandfather was also perfectly content to work alongside black people (aka, he didn’t KKK hate them), but not so content when I fell in love with a black man (he thought our relationship was morally wrong, which brings us to his morals, which brings us to White Jesus).
About my blogpost:
“I feel like you’re always trying to over explain. It comes off like I’m not racist and here’s my proof.”
It’s true. I do it for a few reasons, among those are respect, insecurity, and the fact that in this world, hatred runs rampant in all directions and I want to cut it off at every possible path. There’s also the matter of internalized prejudice, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Additionally, whenever I talk about feminism or racism, I feel a little like I’m taking lessons and retorts from every other time I’ve ever talked about feminism or racism. Which means I’m taking cues from activists/writers/bloggers/people whose points I’ve respected and agreed with, from people who’ve shared their own experiences with prejudice, and of course, from the people I’m closest to.
This also means that I’m remembering the reactions of those who have disagreed. Which means every time I talk about any sort of prejudice, I’m anticipating “Not all men are like that” and “Not all white people are like that.” And that really pisses me off.
First of all, I know “not all men are like that.” For goodness sakes. In fact, a lot of the feminists I’m friends with as well as many of the feminists I follow on tumblr are in serious, longterm relationships with men. As am I. When I bitch about patriarchy, I’m pointing out a system that provides certain advantages to straight, white, cismen. That doesn’t mean that every straight white cisman’s life is a picnic, and it doesn’t mean they’re all douchebags. What it does mean, though, is that a WHOLE HELL OF A LOT OF THEM ARE. You can see it in the news, in crime, in politics. You can see it in the halls of high schools. You can see it every time anybody who ISN’T a straight white cis man tries to have a conversation about privilege or oppression, and a white dude responds with, “Let me just play devil’s advocate.”
Similar feelings on the statement “Not all white people are like that,” plus one more: why would you tell ME what all white people are like? I’m a white person. I’m addressing racism. Dear god. I know not all white people are “like that.”
On the other hand…in some ways, we are.
We all internalize sexism and racism. Both men and women do, both black and white people do, and so does everybody else in between and all around. Black people can be racist against their own people. Women can be sexist against other women. And there is no reverse-racism or reverse-sexism, because both terms imply an institutional power behind the prejudice. If you need a better explanation, here’s a link.
There’s also Google.
If someone calls you out on racism or sexism, do us all a favor and just pause. Pause, try not to immediately get angry, and listen. Do not respond with “People are oversensitive” or “My best friend is another race.” Because we all internalize prejudices in some way or another. It happens, and your non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-cis, or even all-of-the-above friend can’t save you from that.
You don’t need to apologize for being white. But you can and should acknowledge your privilege and, if applicable, your prejudice, and listen to the points of view of other people
Pause, listen, and actively educate yourself.
Feel free to message me and I will happily over-explain the answers to any questions you have, or point you in the direction of someone who can.