One of the hardest questions for me to answer is in what ways am I racism in my day to day life. It is a COP OUT to believe that whites are racism, that we perpetuate racism, and not to be able to come up with one single way that I, as a white person, am being racist and perpetuating the system. If whites are raised in a system where whites have privilege and whites benefit from the system, then naturally all whites benefiting from the system are racist. But what are the active things I do to support the system? I must actively commit actions that support the system, or else collectively the system would not exist. It is impossible to be the non-racist, ‘pure’ white in a white supremist society.
And so far on my reflections, I can tell you a few instances I am being racist on a day to day basis. The #1 way that I am racist is by being silent and not confronting white supremism when I encounter it.
For example, in a previous post on this blog, I posted about a film “Google and the World Brain”. I talked about the white supremist, eurocentric point of view I saw in that film. When questions were being taken in the Q&A, I raised my hand to ask the question, but I was not as assertive as I could have been. As a white person, encountering something that’s racist and not doing anything to confront it IS racism.
Any time I am silent in the face of racism is supporting the system. So yes, I contribute to racism.
Another tendency I have is blurring the line between what I can do as the oppressor to help the oppressed. The patronizing attitude that I have that, naturally, having oppressed groups of people, is that I want to “Fix” things for them. It sounds nice and humanitarian but it is not, it’s not justifiable. Although as the oppressor I have to own up to what I have done, it is also not my job to decide what should be done to “compensate” for actions taken or make things “right” for the victim. The rapist does not decide their own punishment, nor decide the reparations that the survivor will receive. I am inclined as a white person to want to “help” the oppressed groups by deciding for them how I can help them and how they can benefit from what I have to offer. But I can’t decide that. It is for them to decide, not me, and I often am crossing the lines between confronting my white racism and racistly trying to ‘fix’ the issue in my own white terms.