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Sat, Sep. 10th, 2011, 11:07 am
stoneself: fractions of always

it's is a crazy message to think the requirement is that you think about anti-racism always. that kind of thinking leads to "it's too big, i give up." it's yet another white defense against dealing with white privilege.

the requirement is that you white people do more than you have been. more. and way too many of you are not even doing that.

you white people have the option of dealing with a fraction of always when it comes to racism. poc always deal with racism - always. you white people only have to deal with a fraction of always - and then at your choosing. you need to understand that - that you must actively choose to do more.

you need to learn that you always have white privilege. always. and that in that one thing you need to strive to always be conscious of your white privilege - strive for that. but realize that you will only reach a fraction of always.

don't setup impossible goals, because that makes for an easy excuse when you do nothing at all.

Sat, Sep. 10th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)

My impression of it is not so much that we need to be thinking of anti-racism 100% of the time, but to always have that lens at the ready, so that when something happens that feels off, we can examine what it is about what was said or done that feels off and call it out.

Sat, Sep. 10th, 2011 06:26 pm (UTC)

at a rational level, people say stuff like that.

but really if you look at the real emotional on the ground messaging white anti-racists create around anti-racism - it's full of zeal and unrealistic goals. and very little follow through when they realize just how impossible a task they set for themselves.

Sat, Sep. 10th, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)

*nods* I can see that, for sure. It's about setting realistic goals, as teaberryblue said in an earlier post--like promising yourself you'll call out casual racism of friends, coworkers or family when you see it, sharing links with friends and family about why a popular movie is problematic. Almost like housekeeping--if the whole house is a disaster, you can't try to do it all at once or you'll be frozen in inaction. Tackle one area of one room, and eventually that room will be tidy.

eta: I'm not saying this for pats or cookies. I'm hoping that by presenting my thoughts, if I'm on the right track, another white person will read it and something will click for them.

Edited at 2011-09-10 06:43 pm (UTC)

Sat, Sep. 10th, 2011 09:30 pm (UTC)

Thanks for putting it this way. I particularly like "fractions of always."

All I'll ever manage is a fraction of always, because I can guarantee that there will be times that I'll use my privilege to avoid it all.

However, I will try to be more mindful and be more actively anti-racist a larger fraction of always from now on. I'm going to stop now so that I don't make this comment more "all about me" than it already is, but I have definite actions to take lined up, to make it less nebulous than just "yeah, I should do something." This includes a plan for when I mess up, so that I don't take the easy way out and pretend I can't do it right and thus I should never try.

Sun, Sep. 11th, 2011 12:13 am (UTC)

Thanks for this. I really admire the fact that you are sticking with this in spite of all the bullshit that has gone on in this community. I apologize if my comment made it seem like people had to do everything.

To white people who are reading this and wondering about what goals you can set that are not impossible, here is a list of 10 simple goals you can try for:

1) Don't pay for a type of entertainment if you have heard from people of color who you know or read that the contents of that entertainment promotes racism (more than most entertainment promotes racism, since a lot of it does), or the creator(s) have been overtly racist. For example, not paying to see The Help or buying the book is something easy you can do. It also means that when your white friends or family ask you if you've read it or seen it, you have a great way to introduce the idea to them.

2) Actively read books by authors of color. This is another place where you can introduce the idea to white friends or family by recommending a book you really like. This is not hard to do and 50books_poc is a good place to start to get recommendations.

3) When someone starts telling a racist joke, tell them that you do not think it is funny to tell a joke that makes fun of someone's ethnicity, country of origin, language, or the way a person looks. Don't be that person who just sits there and laughs awkwardly.

4) If you're not an assertive person and can't see yourself doing #3, try getting up and leaving when someone tells a recist joke or makes a racist comment.

5) At very least do not laugh. It doesn't matter if they think you're rude. Remember, they are the one telling a racist joke.

6) If you're worried about alienating yourself at work or on your softball team, try telling someone with whom you are very close when they say or do something racist. Pick someone whom you know will love you no matter what-- they are more likely to listen to you than they are to anyone else. This can even lead to a dialogue where they might ask you questions about where they can learn more 101.

7) Sit down and watch one movie or TV show, or read one book with your attention to race issues tuned in as much as you can. Think about what you see and hear. Take notes (for yourself, not for public consumption).

8) Sit down and try to make a list of any times you remember having feelings that could be attributed to white privilege or racism over in recent memory. Then ask yourself why. Pick one racist behavior or thought pattern and work on improving it.

9) Actually try to do the Invisible Knapsack exercise for yourself. There are a couple ways to do it: you can either follow Peggy McIntosh's list and check off the ones that apply to you, or you can start from scratch and do your own list. If you do your own list, you might want to compare it to hers to see if it matches up. Don't post your complaints about how it doesn't apply to you in anti-racist communities Like with #7, pick one way your white privilege applies, and try to notice every time you see it coming into play.

10) Make a promise that if someone tells you you've said something racist, or that you're showing your privilege, you will take a step back from the conversation, apologize sincerely, and then dedicate some time to contemplating why you said or did that thing. Promise yourself that you will not argue even if you feel misunderstood. Try to analyze the situation in your head until you understand how your privilege factors into the problem. Don't ask people of color to teach you or explain their reasoning or expend more energy when you have hurt them.

Just pick one thing. Work on that one thing. Eventually, you will find that that one thing becomes something that doesn't take as much effort as it used to. Then you can add another thing.

Sun, Sep. 11th, 2011 03:37 am (UTC)

Thanks. #3 is hitting home with a work situation; I'm posting about it pending moderation approval.

Sun, Sep. 11th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)

Thank you for this.

Mon, Sep. 12th, 2011 12:45 am (UTC)

Thank you. I appreciate this comment because it gives me hope I'm moving in the right direction.

Sun, Sep. 11th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)

This is a good way to defeat silence. When the white allies don't speak, it's often a group of POCs against an angry white person, and that, that sometimes hardly works.

Sun, Sep. 11th, 2011 05:51 am (UTC)

I see that all or nothing mentality a lot around indigenous issues, and it is incredibly frustrating. "So, what do you want us to do? Give all the land back? Send everyone go back to Europe?" Even if we've been discussing a concrete and narrowly-defined issue, one in which there are obvious, concrete, and immediate things one could do, someone so often ends up saying, "What would you have us do? Turn back time?" (Um, no. I'd like you to write a letter to the National Park Service demanding that they stop fucking obstructing Native ceremonies. I'd like you to go to your kids teachers and say that this book is racist for reasons A, B, and C, and recommend this other one instead.) So many white people seem stuck in all-or-nothing mindsets in these convos. "Well, we can't turn back time and make things perfect; therefore, nothing can be done."

Such a freaking cop-out, that is.

SUCH A FREAKING COP-OUT. And it makes a damned convenient excuse for not doing anything at all, I notice.

Do more. Fail better. Be usefully flawed instead of perfectly useless.

Sun, Sep. 11th, 2011 07:29 am (UTC)