This is the fifth (and final) post this week where I share what white activists have said publicly to other white people. The summary of content here offers opportunity to reflect more on implicit biases and stereotypes taken for granted.
(JS) Steve Mohr wrote:
"The fallacy of black on black/white on white crime is really about crime determined
by proximity in a segregated society."
This leads to considering cultural context and the reality that many behaviors defined as
pathological among black people, can be traced to trauma as a result of unrelenting terrorism and stressors black people were subjected to as a result of systemic racism imposed by white people. Clarity is necessary about why people cope and react in certain ways.
Josh Kruger wrote that:
"(M)uch of black history in America has been -- out of sheer necessity -- a direct response
to white brutality. After all, what kind of sadists would enslave an entire race of people,
rape and murder them, brutalize them, terrorize them, marginalize them, and then dismiss their experiences or ignore them completely, claiming that after a few legislative changes, centuries of oppression are magically wiped away?"
This insight leads to why whites need to recognize their own collusion in cultural problems caused by systemic racism. It can help them overcome and prevent ingrained tendencies toward projecting all that is considered negative onto people of color...and also points to why healing is needed for diverse populations.
Julia Bayha wrote:
"I think of a point made by Daniel Aldridge, who said that speaking truth to one's own
people requires a special power of consciousness and integrity. This statement hits home
as I struggle to heal my relationship with other white Americans who were part of my youth and made my life hell -- and for what? Because I, as a white female, had black friends. I
was listening and dancing to "black music" decades before it was "cool" -- and not just Motown, Jazz, Funk and R&B, but also West African dance back when even many black Americans were not as much into Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, etc…
I became politicized about racism so much sooner than most white people, because
I have been walking the talk and not just spouting platitudes. I have been denied job opportunities, fired from jobs, refused housing, endured violence, gossiped about,
socially ostracized, punished and neglected by family, unfriended and even called
N-lover and a white-N.
Some of my most beloved white friends continue to this day to say things to me such as "Why is it you CARE so much about black people?" or "What is it about you and the underdog?" -- and my all-time favorite line of stupidity from New Age-y white people
who claim to be "color-blind" while CLEARLY so conscious of race, "You must have
been black in another life!" Really?
The funny thing is, Daniel Aldridge originally made his comment in response to a Jewish woman who was arrested for speaking out on the Palestinian situation in Israel. But his comment threw me into a place where I needed to reflect more about my experiences
with what I call "white on white" racism, and the WAR YEARS of my life...whose effects
are still deeply problematic.
I work to be open to the healing I need from "my own people" as it were...but it is so clear
to me how hard it is for me to trust white people to treat me well once they get to know me and realize just how very inter-racial my life is. My being pro-black does not mean I am
anti-white, even though many whites apparently interpreted it that way. Given this truth,
this story of MY life as a white person who has suffered intense and constant backlash
for most of my life as a WHITE person, I can BEGIN to understand what most BLACK
people contend with in their lives. As an African proverb says, "The tree remembers.
The axe forgets."
Last but not least, I leave those who have followed this series something to contemplate related to psychosocial factors that promote, support and maintain racism:
How intertwined issues of denial of historical and systemic racism are directly related to white fragility and white privilege. As several people have observed, "When you are used to privilege, even the tiniest step towards true equality can feel like oppression to many white people."
A major problem inherent in white supremacy (racist) ideology is either/or thinking. People invested in maintaining a status quo that allows them privileges / preferential treatment / benefit of doubt and unearned credibility, want to deny options to others who are different, due to skin color. Many do this by dismissing truths and upholding stereotypes designed to associate whiteness with automatic innocence and blackness with automatic guilt. These lies need to be undone and rejected, by developing new narratives.
The privilege of being judged as an individual has been embraced by a culture that views whiteness as the norm by default, while applying double standards to people of color. When individuals are regarded as merely representatives of their race, stereotypes tend to overgeneralize the negative and dismiss positive qualities about black and brown people. Racist premises prevent seeing people objectively as the multidimensional human beings they are, and blocks opportunity to truly understand common concerns and challenges that impact diverse humanity.
As Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. solider and whistleblower, was quoted as saying: "I want people to see the truth...because without accurate information, you cannot make informed decisions...(and) I prefer a painful truth over any blissful fantasy."
What about you? Will you support Racial Truths or Lies?
Fannie LaFlore MS,LPC,SAC,EAP is the Developer and Lead Trainer of Healing From Racism Programs (HFR) which draws on her extensive Communications, Human Services, Entrepreneurship and Activism experience.