Are you racist?

By May 24, 2018Activism, My Blog

I am racist. Yes. You read correctly. 

That’s the thing, I believe, we (white people) all are. I can’t speak on behalf of any other color human because I don’t have that experience.

After all, we have been subjected to this world, right? Unless you grew up somewhere other than on planet earth I am not sure how this could have been avoided? 

Two moments when I discovered my racism. 

  1. I for real didn’t think I was “attracted” to black people. As if it was just a justified taste preference thing. After all I can like whoever I want right? But in truth my conditioning didn’t allow me to even explore this possibility. It was as if “it was forbidden” to be with a black person sexually. It’s been so incredible to see this fall away and discover how attracted I am to black human beings. It’s helped me to be open to attraction to any human and not allow the outer layer to prescribe my experience. 
  2. I was part of the Langa community for years and years before I considered ever living there. It was as if it wasn’t an option. As in white people can’t live there. I will never forget when Lungile said to me “why don’t you stay here?” Just like that, in that moment, it was like his words broke down a condition that had been restricting my thoughts for years and preventing me from experiencing the most wonderful community I have ever experienced in my life. Truly Langa has been a gift to me!

The first step towards a truly non-racial world is to accept that we live in a racial world and we are racial beings. It’s not our natural state. It’s been learned. 

The way I see it, there are three categories of (white) racism.

  1. Totally unapologetic racist. “I hate black people.” “White is the superior race.” I’m not sure there is much hope of change for this category so no point in going on about this. One point to note about such people is that they really believe this. This has been drummed into them their whole life. 

I want to focus on the next two categories. 

  1. Deny being a racist. Deny. Deny. Deny. And allow its forces to work within you and continue to express itself and ultimately grow. When you deny something, it gets bigger and bigger! It’s invisible to most of us and therefore most dangerous and frustratingly painful to the people of color who experience it. Often in subtle forms. Like the one time Lungile was asked if the bike he was carrying was his at a cycle race despite there being many other (white) people with bikes that the security never questioned once. I have also witnessed a situation where people are sharing water out of a bottle to everyone but the black person. This is not even so subtle! Imagine how you would feel if that were you? I call these “jabs to the ribs” which are what people of color experience every day in SA and around the world. Over time this becomes very intense. To be poked on the same sensitive spot each day. And a lot of the time the “perpetrators” are not even aware of it. It’s like the “invisible norm”. 

Tell-tale signs of this condition:

  • Sentences that start.. “I am NOT a racist… and often end with things like… “I had a black friend once in sixth grade. He slept over at my house.” Or… “I kissed a black girl” or some other form of ridiculous justification. I am sorry to any person of color if you have been subjected to this bullshit and I can only imagine how weird and hurtful this must feel as if “they deserve a prize for their humanitarian work!”
  • I am not racist and to prove it I will put up a #BlackLivesMatter poster up outside my house – I saw a lot of Black Lives Matter posters outside (mostly white; just to qualify Portland is the whitest state in USA) people’s houses in Portland, Oregon. It felt to me as if the sign was there to alleviate the guilt and to “show” you are not racist. This merely shows your racism in the first place. If black lives mattered we wouldn’t have to say black lives matter. 
  • This person leaps to the defense of other white people when their actions have been deemed to be racist by a person of color. They criticize any person of color for having these feelings and expressing them towards us or any white person. They also criticize white people who fall into the last category. 

The last category of racism is one I hope we will all try and embrace together. 

You are aware of the racial conditions you have been born into and without investigating could allow to become the norm. As you become aware that you have been exposed to racial conditioning your whole life you embark on a rocky and vulnerable journey to rid yourself of it. It’s an unlearning process. It’s a humbling process. It’s a painful process. 

This path requires action. Without action your silence gives consent for this injustice to prevail. This is where the #BlackLivesMatter is beautiful and magnificent and much needed. It’s a movement that says to our fellow humans, I see you, I see your struggle. Your struggle is my own struggle. I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you. 

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela 

This is Portia (born in KZN, SA) and I in front of the Nelson Mandela Mural in Los Angeles. It’s actually the longest stretch of what is remaining of the Berlin Wall outside Berlin.

There would have been a time not so long ago that this very scene would have been a total impossibility. What a moment to celebrate and to honor, and to remember where we came from and how it’s up to us to heal ourselves of the world and the conditions we have been born into. 

“You may choose to look away, but you can never again say you did not know” William Wilberforce (1789)

I hope this blog can spark more much needed, open and honest conversations about this.

It’s our path to healing. And it’s the same path to healing for erectile dysfunction. Its control over you grows if you try hide it, and the opposite applies when you have the courage to share it.

Much love

Bodhi 

To those readers in South Africa take the  #AshwinWillemse case which is very topical and real right now and see for yourself.

It’s almost irrelevant what actually happened in the studio between Ashwin, Nick and Naas, its clear that Ashwin has been on the receiving end of many “jabs to the ribs” during his life and he had had enough in this moment and communicated this in a calm and dignified manner. 

It’s pretty obvious from how you have responded gto this where your racism is at. How did YOU respond? 

John

About John

John McInroy is a South African born author, social activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, ultra endurance athlete, international field hockey player, actor and vegan yogi.

3 Comments

  • Tarryn Munro says:

    You Have Mail.

    I think I would have run out of characters in this space :D.

    • Gypsy says:

      [I sent this Bodhi via email – finally have the courage & opportunity to post it here]

      Hi Bodhi,
      WOW! What an email to see! The subject line really caught me off guard.
      For a moment I thought you were saying “You’re a racist!!??”, after my comment on Gareth Stead’s post, I thought for a moment “Oh no! That was misconstrued! Taken out of context! NO!! No! I’m not”. Introducing the “White Guilt” – bear in mind I’ve only read the first two lines at this point. The “philosopher / egotist” in me motivates me to formulate my own opinions.
      This is a very real and very necessary view or thought to share.
      I have thought about this for some time actually. Yes, I do believe we are all racist still. I feel that each colour and creed will be (to a degree), as we have not walked in the shoes of another race. We cannot possibly know the size of the other’s shoe, the path, the stones and possibly ingrown toe nails – pardon my analogy.
      I feel even people raised in a NON-RACIST household will have their own level or version of racism.
      With my journey, as I mentioned in my comment, racism was, well not encouraged, but just a way of life. I wasn’t trained to be racist, and there was no such thing as, “you’re not racist enough, you need to be coached”. It just was. I have thought back to my history, and was genuinely “proud” to find, that at heart level, I wasn’t racist. I started school in 1993, and I had black friends, indian friends, coloured friends. And I didn’t see colour, what I did see what cultural differences, religious differences a.s.f (but don’t give me a noddy badge just yet). I also noted the differences in home languages, although on a minuscule level having been sent to an Afrikaans nursery school, grew up on a farm with “boere” and their children. (Noddy badge here as on the farm, there were labourer’s and THEIR children who were close friends).
      The few years before 1994, when I was able to indulge thoughts that weren’t “can I climb THIS tree all the way to the top?”, and “if I go this way up the fence, I can get on the roof and mom won’t see me”, and “I can use the reservoir as my private swimming pool, but how can I avoid getting scolded” and and and. Pardon my indulgence – they were great memories, hidings and all!
      When these thoughts came to mind, I noticed the fear, unrest, worry, panic and protesting that took place with the ‘94 elections. Goodness, even I took it on. I even have a distinct memory of when we drove into town, and africans walking on the side of the road, I thought “but why are they walking? At what point do they reach their destination?” O_o!! (Feel free to strip me of my noddy badge). That was the overall feeling, but when it came to my daily activities & daily interactions, those thoughts never featured. But “Tarryn the Racist” was still there.
      As I mentioned before, my paradigm shifted dramatically when I left Tzaneen, Limpopo and moved to KZN in 2002. It wasn’t only that I went to school with MORE people of colour, it was that these people of colour were not angry at white people, or at least not at a level that stopped you from having conversations about RACE!!! They teased me about being a “white girl”! In TZN, those conversations were avoided because the people of colour were not “allowed” to have opinions, they were not “allowed to reflect” on their histories. How incredibly heart breaking! I should have initiated them, but, I was in default setting. I hadn’t thought further than my big toe.
      I will tell you something, unlearning something at this level was quite the challenge. And when I went back to TZN for school holidays, I saw the differences, but quickly learnt to keep my mouth shut, until I was able to defend my opinion tooth and nail. A rookie can’t just minds.
      Then… enter White Guilt! Dum dum dum!
      I had no idea what the term meant, and once it was explained to me, shown to me, “oh goodness, another (very needed) obstacle to overcome!”. If I was truly an equal, white guilt shouldn’t affect me, it shouldn’t be part of my reality. But it was. While I may not have been the aggressive racist. I didn’t partake in any violence, or violent thoughts, I was white, and in South Africa, most recently, trying to come together. I was part of the problem. And THIS I did not want. I wanted no ties to White Power. I did not want to be viewed or seen as white. I wanted to change colour, not to a specific colour, just NO colour. I still have my trying moments of white guilt, and in these moments I “over compensate” (as I have been told).
      I moved to Cape Town 3 years ago, a year in a met an amazing friend who taught me about “over compensating”. I volunteered / assisted her at the Animal Welfare Hospital where she worked, and her AWA’s are mostly coloured. In a fat conversation with the group assisting her, she mentioned race, everyone laughing, everyone joking, everyone having a good time. When I heard her mention race, I swallowed my laugh so very quickly, it felt like an air bubble / stone, everyone still laughing and joking. I pulled her aside and told her she can’t say anything about race! I must say here, she was not judgemental, in any way. I told her, it could be so misunderstood, it could come across as harsh judgement, she could be accused of being racist. We are equals and we should NOT individualise RACE!! She looked at me with such confusion “but Tarryn, I am white, they are coloured, he is black. We are equals, absolutely! But that doesn’t change that we are different races, and trying to be “blind” to race, is part of white guilt. These people don’t want to be seen as a non-race, they want to be seen in all their race!” What I took from it was, we as humans, do we want to just be seen as a different species to animals, or do we want to be seen as a different gender as well?
      WOW! 1.5 pages on just your first 2 lines!!! My English teacher always told me I had to be CONCISE in my writing. 14 years later and I STILL haven’t learnt. You may have to take a couple days off your busy schedule to read through this.
      Your 2 moments of realism. Conditioning! That is the word! Not quite formal training, but an existence!
      Your 3 categories;
      1. Yes, nothing can be said about the Supreme Racist. Yes, we can note, this is what they truly believe, it has been drummed into them. BUT to me, this is an excuse for them really. There is a million and one truths out there that SHOULD move them to change. Or at the very least try. In my journey, I have come to learn (overall), enlightenment for them, in this incarnation, is just NOT part of THEIR journey. Not this time round.
      2. Racist in Denial. Ouch. Yes. Unfortunately, this is me, or was me, or I am moving from this category. The tell-tale signs you mentioned, thankfully, I don’t identify with all of them (wipes brow), but I do identify with some of them.
      3. And lastly, the Hopeful Racist; I don’t disagree with you on many points you have made here. Maybe disagree is the wrong word. So let me try this way.
      • Identifying, acknowledging the pain, the struggle, past, present and future. Beautiful! Showing our hearts to other’s experiencing this has no greater Universal Energy Boost. Apologising. I am sorry for your pain, your struggle. I am sorry you have to experience this. Please forgive me. It is beautiful, but am I the one causing it? Or am I the one trying to feel your pain with you?
      • #BlackLivesMatter. In #RacistInDenial (lets hashtag them shall we?) you commented on the attempts of these posters. How is it different here? Understandably there, it has more to do with how one is “viewed”, and not about how one is “seen”, and the actions. But what if I were one, (trying to make the move to better, or best), and promoting my beliefs of #BlackLivesMatter? Couldn’t I potentially be viewed as a “try-harder”? I don’t want to be the “try-harder”, I want to be the “be-best”! Not for my sake, my ego. But for the beautiful change that can take place.
      I do not mean to offend you or your absolutely awakening guidance.
      Lastly; 2.5 pages in
      “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Nelson Mandela
      This extreme terrorist!! #FacePalm
      One of my utmost favourite quotes of his. It rings in my ears when it comes to other painful experiences, we as humans, go through today. Gender Equality, LBGT Equality, Race Equality – ever wonder why there’s been all this “inequality” that future generations have to “fix” and who and why past generations thought they were entitled to instil it? Bastards / Bitches… @#%*#$@$@^$!!!! And so much more!
      BB
      X
      Gypsy
      “You may choose to look away, but you can never again say you did not know” William Wilberforce (1789)
      Now this is a quote I have not seen before. Ouch (in a good way). With looking away, there goes your “excuse” not to action. A very real call to action!
      Another favourite of mine, maybe slightly overused now-days
      “Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Gandhi
      Well alright then! Challenge accepted!

  • Jim says:

    Mr. Bhodi Butterfly Gi,

    Yup. Anyone thinking themselves “White” has been sold a bundle of colonial “goods” .
    (aka bullshit)
    Those with power/money benefit from the political story of distrust, fear and envy. This is the overlord creed ( see Willy Lynch).
    So, very big topic my butterfly dude!

    Racism is a lie diminishing the dignity of all.

    Say that again With Feeling.

    Namaste 🙏🙏🙏
    Jim

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