Faith, Love, Politics, and Social Justice

Anti-Racism 101

White Anti-Racism 101

2013 July 23

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Posted by Karyn Carlo

Last week’s verdict in the Zimmerman trial gives those of us in the progressive faith community no choice but to get serious with our anti-racist work. To that end, I offer these reflections that first appeared as facebook posts that I call White Anti-Racism 101

OK white people, listen up. Class is in session.

1. racism is prejudice PLUS power. those who lack social
power can be prejudiced, hateful, and mean but, unless they have the power to
institutionalize their prejudices it’s not racism (and yes, I know that is
“not what the dictionary says” I am talking about critical race
theory here. google it.)

2. victims of racism
are not responsible for making us comfortable with it or finding nicey nice
ways to talk to us about it so we don’t get offended. They have other work to
do. Dismantling racism is our work. figuring out why we can’t hear black and brown
people when they are angry or in pain and learning to get over it is part of
that work. let’s grow up and do it.

3. racism is not
human nature. human beings are capable of much better.

4. The media did not
invent racism.

5. just because you
didn’t personally invent white privilege does not mean you don’t benefit from

6. whether it’s the
use of the infamous “n” word, or anything else, “but they do it
too” is a lame argument (see above re power)

7. no, black power is
not the same thing as white power (read a history book)

8. it’s too late to
“take the country back” We never owned it to begin with.

9. “I just
didn’t know” is not an excuse. There is a cure for ignorance. It’s called

OK, white people. It’s time for our next installment of
anti-racism 101 so grab a pencil. class is in session

1. black people who
protest state sanctioned or state excused killing of other black people are
usually *exactly* the same people who are hard at work in their own communities
with all sorts of anti-violence projects, so unless you are super duper active
in this area (and even then) you probably should leave the “aren’t you
concerned about black on black crime?” thing alone. really. you are just
embarrassing yourself

2. most crime in this
country is white on white. the biggest threat to the white race is white
people; let’s do something about that

3. white women, like
all women, are in more danger in their own homes than on the street. If they
are assaulted or killed, the perpetrator is likely to be an intimate partner or
family member, not a mysterious black stranger. so oppressing black people is
not the answer to violence against white women. not killing us works better.

4. it is possible for
“minorities” to be racist toward other “minorities”
“Zimmerman is half Hispanic” is as compelling an argument as
“some of my best friends are black” (and in case you didn’t know,
that’s not very compelling)

5. nobody in their
right mind goes into anti-racist work for fame and fortune. Trust me. the pay
stinks and you end up hated more than loved. so “they are just stirring
things up for their own benefit” is a questionable claim and not

6. black suffering is
not “our” suffering. we may, and surely should, care about racism
simply because we are human, but unless we experience profiling and
discrimination on a daily basis or fear for our children who do, let’s not
claim it for “our” own. do not confuse solidarity with appropriation.
We are not Trayvon Martin. at best, we are his white friends, or will be once
we do the work, and that is fine

7. the validity of
ideas is not measured by how they make you *feel* In fact, lots of very true
information, particularly about race, is pretty much guaranteed to make you
feel defensive and really piss you off at first. hang in there anyway. the
truth will set you free eventually

8. the fact that
there are black “conservatives” on Fox News proves nothing. please.
we all have issues

9. white anti-racism is
not white self hate. no liberation begins with self contempt. we do this
because we love ourselves too much to be cut off from the rest of humanity- so
we do the work

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