This is one of those blog posts that makes my chest tight writing about. It makes me uncomfortable because I feel unqualified to talk about race and I’m treading a very fine line between using my privileged position to speak about important issues and centralising myself, a white woman, in a conversation about race.
The alternative, to keep quiet, keep my head down and stay in my own lane is tempting. It’s safe there, no one will call me out for getting something wrong, no one will correct me.
But that’s not what I want. I want to be called out and corrected. I don’t want to shelter under my white privilege any more.
I’ve gone through most of my life not giving too much thought to race except knowing that ‘racism is bad’. In recent years though, events around the world have forced me to open my eyes.
When Munroe Bergdorf spoke out about all white people being racist (i.e. if you’re benefitting from our racist society and not actively dismantling racism) I thought, fuck. She’s absolutely right.
You don’t have to be burning crosses and wearing bedsheets to be racist.
I’ve been learning more about body positivity and intersectional feminism in the last year, and of course issues of race come up here too. I realised that a subtle ‘isn’t this awful’ head shake when videos of racist behaviour appear in my Twitter feed is not enough.
So I’m here, at the very beginning of a journey that I’m sure will result in me getting it wrong sometimes, but one where I hope I can learn.
And yes, having a mixed race boyfriend has brought the issue even closer to home. While I’ve thankfully never witnessed obvious racist behaviour towards him, I’ve heard about his experiences. I’ve seen him walking into a room full of older, white people giving him second looks and feeling uncomfortable.
So, here are some things I’m doing to learn more about race, some things I would like to do more of and the one thing I’ve learnt already.
What I’m doing
Diversifying my social media feeds
Social media can very quickly become an echo chamber where you see nothing but white middle class women playing with flowers. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with white middle class women playing with flowers (*waves*) but I knew it wasn’t all I wanted to see.
Following more people of colour, those from different backgrounds, different bodies, different sexualities – all of it – helps to widen my view on the world.
Some fab people to follow:
- Sassy Latte
- Layla Saad
- April K. Quioh
- Rachel Elizabeth Cargle
- Harnaam Kaur
- Grace Victory
- Renni Eddo-Lodge
Georgia and Saabirah talking about mental Health at the Good to Me self-care box launch
Listening to podcasts
At this stage, I need to learn more about racism and podcasts are a great way to do this. I’ve been listening to ‘About Race’ with Reni Eddo-Lodge and ‘She’s All Fat’ with April K Quioh and Sophie Carter-Kahn (while this is about body positivity, it often covers race and has a great segment where they ask each other questions they would normally be too uncomfortable to ask).
If you have any other podcasts to recommend, please let me know!
Increasing my awareness of representation
The lack of representation in the media and online spaces is, well, shocking. Especially when it comes to imagery. I’m trying to do my very small part by raising my personal awareness and using more people of colour in the imagery I choose for my blogs here and the blogs I write at work. I’m thankful that Happiful strives to be diverse and this is always in consideration with the imagery the team choose.
What I would like to do more of
As well as books on the subject itself (I’ve added ‘Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People About Race’ to my list), I want to read more books from writers of colour. Again, if you have any recommendations, please let me know.
Follow more bloggers of colour
The blogging industry has been called out for its lack of diversity in the past and I know a lot of the blogs I read are by white people. I want to change this and have started reading the following to start me off:
Should point out that I’m not reading these just because the writers are non-white, but because I’m interested in their content and I want to ensure I’m not only reading views from fellow white middle-class women. Again, welcoming any recommendations!
I’m trying to do this more, because I’ve realised that while speaking up about these issues is important to me, if all this is doing is centralising myself in the conversation – it’s pointless. Signposting to people of colour and using whatever sort of ‘influence’ I may have to raise other voices is key.
It’s all well and good to learn more about these things, and it is certainly the first step, but let’s face it – it isn’t achieving much. The next step for me will be to become active, join something, take action and pipe the fuck up.
What I have learnt
It’s not up to people of colour to educate us or alleviate our white guilt
A white person crying about racism and asking their black friend “what can I do?” is not the way to go. All that does is bring the attention back to the white person, with the black friend trying to console them and teach them things they could easily learn on their own.
This is a recent learning for me, and in fact my initial idea for this blog was to email people I knew in the BAME community to ask their advice on what white people can do to be better allies. But now I realise it isn’t their job to teach me and make me feel better about myself.
There is plenty of information out there at my disposal. Educating myself is the only place to start.
And on that note, I’m going to stop *wipes brow*.
Would be incredibly interested to hear your thoughts on this and as always, I welcome criticism. I’m learning, I know I’ll get things wrong.
Should I even have written this? Who the hell knows. All I know is that keeping quiet on the subject was making me far more uncomfortable than talking about it does.
Save for later: