I hate being considered white. I wish I could get out of it, but I can’t: society will always see me as white no matter what I do. I’m not going to be like Rachel Dolezal and wear blackface to try and get out of it, because that is itself racist and disrespectful. It trivializes the plight of people who have the lived experience of having a non-white body in a white-supremacist culture. But if there is any way I can give up my white privilege I will. Problem is, it’s not something I ever asked for, it’s something that society grants to me on so many levels, in so many almost invisible ways. I’m eager for any suggestions on how I can work against this and disown my privilege.
What I know I can do right now, is stand up in solidarity with my sisters and brothers of all ethnicities, all skin colors, and all cultures. To add my voice to theirs that centuries of systematic oppression must stop now. Racism is violence regardless of how candy coated it is (and our society is masterful at making racism look like something else.) It is still violence that perpetuates a violent system.
And silence by white people in the face of systematic violence against non-whites is also violence. By silence, we say its ok, that we are fine with this, that the status quo being upheld is in our favor and that we like that it has hidden and non-hidden benefits to us. We enable the continued oppression of our sisters and brothers by saying nothing, by doing nothing.
And as important as voting is, it’s just not enough. We need to support our global family with non-violent direct action and mutual aid. We need to dismantle the privilege system that unfairly elevates us, and work to provide reparations to those who have been systematically held down for centuries. Voting won’t achieve these things by itself. Our personal words and actions must be added to our votes.
Privilege is not something any one of us claims directly, it is something we do for each other. A mutual you-pat-my-back-i’ll-pat-yours society that non-whites are excluded from. We who are considered white must root this out at every opportunity. Find ways to help up people that don’t look like us, find ways to remove excessive benefits to those who do look like us. Use our voices to elevate theirs, not just to make ourselves look good. Undermine the whole system from the inside out, it is rotten to the core and we need a new family tree to roost in, all of us together.
White people have a moral imperative to not be silent any longer, to help our sisters and brothers feel that they are not alone, with the life being slowly crushed out of them by a society that will never see them as equals. We have a moral imperative to show those who by default we have kept down--by using our words and actions to demonstrate over and over that they are equals, that we are all family, that their lives and experiences matter personally to us, that we will stand with them to erase the wrongs of history and create a new justice for all.
Anything less than this, and we are, ourselves, the oppressor in full force. White silence is violence. There is no middle ground here.