As the saying goes…if you have to ask…
Well, that may not always be the best barometer. Humans adapt easily to certain things and if something is unpleasant and they don’t want to discuss it…there are no hoops they won’t jump through to avoid a real conversation.
Look, we all live in this world and we hear and see things and don’t always register them as insulting, unkind or prejudice. Been there, done that.
I would LOVE to think I am the model ally and that I am aware of all of the pitfalls of trying to help POC have a platform. But, I am not. Every once in a while something creeps into my conscious and escapes through my mouth or through my expression and I may not catch it…but if I do, I feel horrible. So guilty. But here’s the thing…
It’s not necessarily about feeling guilty. It’s about admitting that people are not immune. Instead of saying, yes, this is a huge problem, tell me more…people get their hackles up and declare that they don’t see color(false), that they have relatives that are black(so?) and that racism was over long ago and they have no responsibility for what people did in the past(false). Not one of these will give you immunity.
Once people can admit that, yes, there are things in their present day lives that have probably been denied to someone because of skin color, then we can hold conversations and stop wasting our time with the clichés and non sequiturs.
We ALL need advice. We ALL say or do racist things. Just because no one called you out doesn’t mean it wasn’t racism or a prejudice of some kind.
I am a shy person by nature. 10 yrs ago, I wouldn’t have said a thing. However, knowledge has given me confidence and I don’t mind being the conscience. We need to do right by a LOT of people and why not start immediately? Who cares if *finger quotes* “slavery” happened years ago? In many senses it still exists. Education about our prison system. The school to jail pipeline. The very low expectations we have for women of color. All are products of a racist system.
The patriarchy serves white men(broadly speaking) so well, they will be the last to admit there is still a problem. It benefits them to play dumb…which they aren’t. We all know enough history to sense an issue that is festering. I can guarantee if you start being an ally for POC(people of color) that white men will be your hardest sell. Why? because they have the most to lose. I will talk about the women who love these men in another entry. Lots to say…
This is why some get pissy when you(if you are a woman) tell them you are not interested in a relationship, you don’t need their assistance, don’t want to hear them mansplain, etc. White men are accustomed to the power they wield and will go down fighting, sometimes to rash and horrible extremes. They take it all personally.
And as we learned in Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird, even the trashiest, thieving, incestual white man has more standing in a community than a poor, hardworking black family man. True in Alabama during the Depression…and still true today.
Long ago, I found a message board of women. While it consumed way more of my time than is an acceptable amount, I learned things there. So many things…
I am just a girl from a small Oklahoma town, but I was able to ask questions of women from around the world. Sometimes, as conversations do, it got downright bloody. Not everyone was American, Christian, a rural dweller, white, heterosexual or female, to be fair. We didn’t all agree ALWAYS. The one thing we all agreed upon was the Golden Rule. No matter our religion, spirituality or lack thereof. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing.
To circle around, I learned so much about culture there. I had no idea how sexualized young Latina and black girls are. From strangers on the street to their family, they were ogled. Endured catcalls as preteens. From EVERY race of man…some of these women had this experience from the time they were pre-pubescent.
One of the biggest takeaways of my online group is that the USA is not the center of the universe. As a whole, we are NOT as educated as well. We have a horrible health care system. We have no paid maternity leave. Canada gets a year…yes, a year. That’s while receiving a very high percentage of their pay. Additionally, they get another 6 months without pay if they want. And then step right back into the job they had before maternity leave. Basically, women are thrown to the wolves here compared to other industrialized countries…which is yet ANOTHER topic for another day.
One thing that was NOT tolerated on the website was…racism. It was mostly member-moderated, so it got addressed immediately.
And being a wife of a police officer, I was horrified to discover the lack of trust for law enforcement. It made me uncomfortable and I did what every wife does and tried to justify that my husband was “different.” That he wasn’t the officers they hated. But, turns out, they would have lumped him into the “bad apples” because they were unconvinced there were good police.
They were unconvinced because most of them had been dealing with racial inequality since the crib. Not for anything they personally had done. It was I who was the outlier, not them. It was definitely a hard pill to swallow and it caused me lots of hurt feelings, and sharp words said to me but in hindsight, it did me a favor.
I am a racist. I always have been. Ouch, that hurts. I probably will never NOT be to some degree. I could ignore it, deny it, live my best white life and continue insisting that not ALL white people are bad. Too bad it’s not convincing unless we do our best to change things for the better.
But, no, I will grow and learn and support where I can and be that person whose smile, cheer, kind words might be the only kind thing that happens. I will NEVER be perfect, but always learning.