Racism is tenacious, so we must be more tenacious
Unlearning racism is a slow process but doable and beneficial to all
I believe that most White folks got racism poured into our heads from the cradle, and is hard to get rid of. But it’s not impossible. In fact, it’s such a nice example of something worthwhile we can do with our lives.
We can’t become expert ex-racists by just reading textbooks or watching some video clips because the work we need to do is deeply emotional. Unless we cry our hearts out for countless hours, it’ll be shallow pretense.
As White kids, we got heartbroken from the racism we saw around us. We protested but often now don’t recall. We must recover these memories.
We were disgusted. But isolated from the world’s majority and disgusted with the Whites around, we grew isolated and lonely as no one else ever.
Some 30 years ago, I led a weekend workshop for Whites breaking isolation. I’ve never seen so many tears, and I’ve never been more scared.
We even got isolated from our fully human, beautiful bodies. We can’t dance, we can’t run, we can’t swing because we are stiff like a corpse.
Not only our bodies froze. Also our brains. Listen to a non-White talking about racism (or a woman about sexism, etc.). Often, at first, we can’t talk like that. But we can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the oppressed.
Prioritizing non-Whites is not ‘reverse racism.’ It’s the correct thing to do for four reasons. 1. It’s an attempt to neutralize still-present racism. 2. It’s an exaggeration in the opposite direction to end up balanced eventually. 3. It’s often realistic as they will have an easier time making things good for everyone than Whites with our unaware racism. And 4. It’s not as if we Whites did such a bang-up job. It’s only fair to give them a shot at it.
This sounds like a stereotype? When racism is an imposed stereotype and so those designated to perpetuate it (us) often became caricatures of us.
Large parts of our own humanity got locked away in our Souls, but enough tears can regain it all. There is no substitute for tears though.
No White person needs to invent the wheel. Many went before us who can teach us some basics of anti-racism. Some Whites seem color blind, but most of us are not. We don’t need to learn to ignore color.
The first ethnic group to be proud of is your own. You cannot support others if you see them as ‘ethnic’ and ‘exotic’ while holding that you’re nothing special. Many ‘proud racists’ show a failed attempt at regaining pride after being so ashamed as kids of grownups’ racism. Suppressing shame and idolizing supremacy aren’t the way. We’re nothing better and nothing less than anyone else. We all were always special and precious.
We don’t need to be a person of color to understand what is oppression and what we need from allies. Stand up for yourself and others who are oppressed as you, as a woman, elderly, left-handed, you-name-it person.
Don’t profile yourself as a wannabe good White in contrast to the White bad guys. That will not uproot racism. Every White person is our close one who needs to be liberated from deeply hurtful pseudo-feelings, thoughts, images, intentions, actions, identities, identifications, and histories.
Remember that anything you as a White person feel around non-Whites in general is because of racism in your head. They do not ‘make’ you feel this.
Act and Sit Still
It is important to act first and cry (see above) later. The first action is to discover non-Whites around you. Then connect and listen. And smile.
Don’t ask them to speak to get informed. You have books and other Whites for that. Listen to give them a chance to be heard and vindicated.
Warm, unjudgmental listening is part of giving up control. Guilt feelings about the history of racism make Whites defensive and apologetic. Remember, we are not under attack. We are not the issue. We can give up controlling others we were taught to look down on. Try it. Cry later.
When your new non-White friend becomes angry, do enjoy being so close, and getting personal information. When s/he starts crying, don’t smother the tears. Be warm and don’t control. Especially don’t explain to them anything. Just be an environment in which healing can take place.
Yes, this might seem unfair and make us extremely nervous. But in all fairness, it’s our turn to feel disadvantaged and uncomfortable.
Yet, keep it reasonable and intelligent. Don’t pick the worst non-Whites to get close to, like a mobster. Refuse to be alone with a Black man you can’t trust. Though most interracial rapes are done by Whites, don’t allow a Black man to rape you because you don’t want to be/look like a racist. Don’t give all your savings to a hungry, homeless, alcoholic, Black person. Don’t offer a drink. Suggest sharing a meal in a restaurant and to talk.
We must talk to other Whites about our distresses, not to non-Whites. They have enough on their plate. They didn’t make us racist and they don’t need to heal us—unless they insist, but that is not something to rely on.
A potent agenda for a group of White folks meeting to lay off racism is for each to take time and share: 1. What happened with the commitment you made the last time we met? 2. Give an example of breaking your White isolation since our last meeting. 3. Cry warm tears about any success you had; cry bitter tears about any failure. 4. Tell us of your earliest memory of racism. 5. What small commitment may you make until our next meeting?
The issue is not to ‘help those poor Black folks.’ Pity is barely better than arrogance. We can choose anti-racism for our own liberation. To become ourselves again (see above). To contribute to justice and truth. To stop racism so that White babies don’t need to hide in shame any longer. To stop the killing—all oppressions murder. To have a fuller life.
This is just a quick list of things off the top of my head. Nothing is written in stone and nothing is perfect or definite. I’m doing this for 45 years. I’m not finished. And I was raised by anti-racist parents.
The blog text continues below the clips.
Continuation of the MSNBC YouTube clips in chronological order:
Thanks to the Tennessee Three, history was made. Just three people did it.
Another confirmation for the Israeli public that no supermajority of elected politicians can ever have the last say without a High Court being able to stop bigotry and bullying approved by no matter what numbers.
PS: On that note, my previous conclusion the Israeli People had won from the government turned out right already before the Knesset reconvenes.