Understanding How We Are Part Of The Problem

If you had asked me a month or so ago if I was non-racist I would have indignantly answered without a moments thought, "absolutely, no doubt about it". But had the question been rephrased ever so slightly and I'd been asked what had I DONE to be ANTI racist, well I'm ashamed to say the answer after some hesitation would have been not enough. The recent tragic death of George Floyd AND Breonna Taylor amongst many others at the hands of police brutality in the US has sparked global outrage, anger and cries for justice with protests taking place in major cities across the world. Subsequently these events has had a lot of us privileged white folk asking for the first time "what can I do to be ACTIVELY anti-racist?". 
I, like many others would have previously found racism unacceptable, offensive and uncomfortable but- writing as honestly as I can- as a white woman (keep that term "white woman" in your head because I want to come back to that in the mere moment) I would have also wrestled with the notion that speaking out just hadn't been my place. Sure! On occasion you may have spoken up, no one's disputing that but the point is not enough and not consistently. You may have been made to feel like speaking out makes you over sensitive, too easily offended or like you "can't take a joke". This is gas lighting and it's one of the many ways consciously or subconsciously people have often been silenced because they've felt it's too uncomfortable to push further. It's this uncomfort right here which has to be addressed as no longer acceptable. This isn't someone else's fight, this is everyone's fight. That maybe a hard pill to swallow but it's time we all put our own egos aside and prioritise the bigger issue at hand.

My own sheer ignorance has been one of the biggest eye opening revelations. Having now read numerous articles, essays and blog posts over the past few days on the subject of white privilege, I most certainly still have a long way to go but I now at least have a deeper understanding of how little, old, unassuming me is such a big part of the problem. I've spoken about white feminism quite a lot on my Instagram over the past few days and I suppose this is because feminism strongly resonates with me. It's a fight I've supported and sexism is a prejudice I've experienced. I've spoken out loud, unashamedly, unapologetically and consistently. I've noticed the eye rolls it seems to induce when brought up or called out and it's not deterred me. And it's all of this which quite frankly makes me so incredibly mad at myself. How could I not have acted the same towards anti-racism? How could I not have seen this has MY mutual fight along side feminism? Suddenly saying "it's not my place" just feels like a poor, invalid excuse and fundamentally not the practises of a nice person.

To summarise very quickly for those who may not be aware, white feminism is generally practised by white women (see I told you I'd come back to this), who see gender and race as two very separate issues. In turn black and POW feel silenced from the conversation and subsequently excluded all together. Therefore white feminism becomes a practise whereby we support white women not, all women! Realising this was a light bulb moment of gaining a better understanding that I was a huge part of the problem. Unintentionally yes, but that's my white privilege talking and that's no excuse. You can't actively support gender equality and not support racial equality too. Yes, as a white woman I can't possibly truly understand the pain and hurt of racism or the oppression my own skin colour has caused, but I can and will acknowledge it's unacceptable. This is where acts of allyship are so important.

I realise this is an emotional time for a lot of people out there (myself included) as we come to terms with our failings and begin to re-educated ourselves but this was never going to be easy and it was never going to be comfortable. I've been very conscious on both my social media and in this post to not appear preaching, that would be hypocritical as I'm still learning myself and I'm certainly no expert. That said I felt compelled to start a conversation on here because talking about this candidly is crucial. The more we talk, the more we open up, approach the subject and face it head on. I know a lot of you out there are probably wandering where to even start- that's normal and I feel the same- but let's all start by becoming better allies. Here's a few steps I've taken this week that you can do right now, along with a few resources I found helpful...

Ignorance Isn't Bliss, Do Your Research

"I don't know enough about this" is an easy thought to jump to, especially when you feel overwhelmed but it's not a good enough reason to do nothing and it's only another excuse to stay silent. Read, watch, listen and diversify the media you absorb. There's plenty of great material out there right now from fiction books, podcasts, Netflix documentaries and magazine think pieces. A particular favourite of mine on the subject of Anti-Racism is writer and academic, Rachel Cargle:

Leave Your Ego At The Door Please

Accept that as a white person your skin as never held you back but it has oppressed others. Please don't make this about you because it's just not. Yes, of course "All Lives Matter" but white privilege means you've never had to argue that before whereas Black/POC have and do. Please don't get defensive, racism isn't a debate and arguing it makes you racist. It's that simple. I know this phrase has been doing the rounds on social media but "listen and learn", it isn't your place to say what is or isn't offensive. Please don't try to justify how you are "one of the good ones" that's just denying your white privilege, it's not productive and it's a little like putting your fingers in your ears going "la la la, I can't hear you"...

You're Only Human- You'll Make Mistakes As You Make The Effort

This has been a challenging week for everyone and I understand you might be feeling exhausted but it's important to push yourself. You don't need to be constantly campaigning on social media, that's not the benchmark and feeling pressured to post simply encourages performative allyship (i.e. disingenuous acts of allyship). That said please try and make the effort to keep the conversation going, this isn’t an Instagram trend. Talk to friends and family, no matter how uncomfortable this may be. This is about moving out of your comfort zone and accepting mistakes will be made, it's the progress that counts.

Sign, Send and Donate

The important thing to remember is that your voice can make a difference and the more action you take, the more you can help. There are so many amazing charities, petitions and fund raisers you can support right now. A signature is as valuable as a donation:

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