Recently my relationship almost ended. It almost ended because the man I was with (of mix race heritage) told me that he wasn’t sure he could see a future for us, he wasn’t sure he could live with me and he wasn’t sure he could ever have children with me because I am white. He has since told me repeatedly how very much he loves me and wants to be with me but that he feels he isn’t sure he can be because my skin is white. Why does this matter to him? Because he has lived life in England as a black man. He knows the history of how he came to be here and although he wants equality he feels we are so far from it that by being with me he would be turning his back on his black brothers and sister and the work he knows needs to be done to elevate and empower a people that for so long have been kept at the bottom of the pile. There will be people reading this who think our relationship coming to an end would be a good thing and those reading this who think it’s a bad thing for many reasons. What has it taught me? It has taught me to speak the fuck up. To stop being scared of what other people think of me and to start saying out loud what I know to be true. It has taught be that more than ever I have a responsibility to point out that as INSANE and ludicrous as it is we still live in a world that is based on enormous inequality. In the West we live in countries created by the destruction of others. Built on foundations on fear, invasion, stealing, torture, hatred, greed and mass slaughter. I am sick and tired of living this way.
A while back someone on my Facebook had a status that read ‘All white people are racist’ my first reaction was to respond ‘not all’. I felt so defensive. I felt so offended that I could be considered racist. It however started an inward conversation for me. It started me asking questions of myself. I was 9 when Stephen Lawrence was murdered. 3 months after my mum died of breast cancer. I remember I read the whole story in the paper. I stared at his picture and I cried. I cried because having grown up in a predominately white area I had no idea people would kill someone because they had a different skin colour. I had no idea humans would not like another human because of where they were born or the where there parents where born or where there grand parents where born. I can still see Stephens face now. I can still feel that pain and confusion. The sense of complete waste of life over something so insane. Having just lost my mum I wanted to hug his family and tell them I loved them. I wanted to bring him back just like I wanted my mum back
I knew they wanted him back, I knew he didn’t want to go and I knew that his life had been taken by people who were suffering from insanity. As a child I would contemplate this over and over.
Now I’m an adult. I’m an adult and I live in a world of white ignorance. Some people call it white privilege, I called it white privilege until a lady named Jane Elliot set me straight. In an email she said ‘I don’t believe in white privilege, but in white ignorance. Everybody likes to be called ‘privileged’, because we can say that we didn’t ask for it, and it’s not our fault that we’re privileged. On the other hand, no one likes to be called ignorant, especially since we have so much indisputable evidence that it’s true’. It’s true and she is right. It’s not a gift given to white people it’s something we took and now a lot of us don’t want to give it back. Now without even being 100% aware and conscious of what we are protecting we defend our position with bull shit like ‘it happened years ago everybody just needs to get over it’ and ‘I didn’t do it myself I wasn’t even alive then’. When challenged those same thoughts have arisen in my head. Now I can see clearly just how unjust society is, how ignorant a lot of white people are to think these things and how blind we are to the suffering and difficulty being black brings to everyday life.
As an adult and with self education I know that millions of innocent people from Africa where enslaved. They were treated as nothing more than a commodity. As less than human, less than animals, as objects and as belongings. They were taken from everything and everyone they knew and were tortured, raped, murdered, beaten and used by white people. This is our recent history. This happened. Why is this black history? White people did this to black people. As much as white people like to try to avoid these uncomfortable truths we must not because by doing so we continue to support a system where the damage is not even being acknowledged let alone repaired. We continue to live our lives in ignorance. We know the truth but we chose to ignore it because it is uncomfortable. We chose to say nothing because it is easier for us to do so. We just want a peaceful life. A lot of white people want to remain powerful and fear that empowering black people and giving them what is rightfully theirs would see them lose power. What about our black brothers and sisters who as a result of the transatlantic slave trade are still suffering the consequences? I was not there, I did not enslave people or use slaves but I know that black people do not get treated the same way as white people as a result of what happen. I know that black people are still dealing with the repercussions of the atrocities inflicted on them by white people. You can not keep a bird in a cage it’s whole life and then one day open the door and say ‘you are free’ and expect the bird to fly away and live happily ever after. In the same way you can not expect people who have suffered so much to be told they are free and equal and to instantaneously to be free and equal. Especially when the majority of people in that country are the very people who oppressed and enslaved them. It’s a ridiculous concept. Huge investment should have been made. Reparations should have been paid to black communities and used to educate white people out of their racism and bigotry which is a full blown mental illness. Money can and will not ever repair or make up for what has been done but if we truly want equality then everyone should be on a level playing field. I don’t just mean finically I mean mentally. After generations of being told you are nothing, worthless and less than others simply because the colour of your skin it is hard to see how it could be believed, ingrained and indoctrinated to the point where you believe it of yourself too. How can this change when society still (not as openly) promotes these beliefs? True education should be taught.
We all come from Africa. We all come from a black woman’s womb. The black woman gave us all life. She is god. Black people need to know this and so do white people. We are all from the same place. The only difference is what we are taught and what we chose to accept and believe. That’s how we are where we are now. That’s how things won’t change or how things will get worse. Unless we, white people stop being ignorant, stop using privilege as an excuse and start fighting for equality.
Are all white people racist? The following is taken from the Cambridge dictionary, although they are varying definitions;
‘the belief that people’s qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races’
‘the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races’ – This is the bit that concerns me. This happens as part and parcel of daily life for many people. Not just black people but people of many races and cultures who aren’t considered white. What I have come to realise is that if I know I live in a country where this is happening, where people are being treated differently simply because the colour of their skin, where they were born or the religion they chose to follow if I know this to be true and yet do nothing about it does this make me in some way racist? I think it does. Perhaps you disagree. This is what I have been spending a lot of time thinking about. I didn’t created this system. I am however a part of this system and as a white person I still benefit from it knowing that it is bias and ingrained with racism.
People keep telling me there is nothing I can do. That I can’t change things. That the world is the way it is and things won’t change. I don’t care what people say, I don’t care what people think of me, I don’t care if I die for this. I would rather die in the name of love than live a life knowing that we live in a world where others are suffering whilst I/we continue to live in comfort. While I/we continue to live with the comfort that being born with white skin affords us. I AM READY TO GET UNCOMFORTABLE. I have a choice that my black brothers and sisters have never been afforded. I am sorry that it took me this long to speak. I am so, so, so sorry that I couldn’t do this sooner.
I write this with love in my heart and light in my head. I write this not to upset or offend but just to make you aware. I know if I had read my own words a year ago they would have offended me. I would have felt defensive and I may not have understood. I also know that when I started to open my eyes I wish someone had said all this to me sooner. If you are a white person, like me and you want to become more aware and you want to fight for equality, then I suggest like I have been doing and continue to do, that you educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to talk to black people about their truth. Often we are afraid to because it makes us uncomfortable but black people don’t get a choice about a lot of the uncomfortableness they have to face, we may have a choice but I urge you to get uncomfortable, listen and don’t defend, really listen with an open heart and mind. I also urge you to talk up. Educate other people. Talk and help other people understand. I have always said you must first help yourself before helping others. I agree with this even more than ever.
Love and light,