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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?