explainer

"Dear white people: Racism is a white problem, not a Black problem."

For far too long, we have framed racism as being a problem for Black and Indigenous people to fix. This is a fallacy we must actively reject. 

We must accept that racism is a white issue. A white problem and that it has always been. 

White people should be responsible for dismantling racism and white superiority delusion. After all, this is a system you participate in, an advantage that you wield, and a system that serves you. 

To undertake this task, there are three truths that white people must first acknowledge about racism. 

1. Racism is a system and not an event.

This means that as a white person, you are not exempt from this system of racism. 

Systemic racism is best understood as a collective racial prejudice backed by legal authority and institutional power. Meaning that white superiority is embedded into all of our institutions; our media, government, health, education, our economy and our legal system. 

It ascribes to us what is valuable, beautiful, normal, and what is good. Racism is tightly embedded in our literature and language, our religions, into our history, and none are exempt. 

And while we may often define racism as a racial slur on the bus (the event), it is systemic racism that is most destructive to the lives and prospects of Black and Indigenous people in Australia. 






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Iv seen a few posts of white people saying they don’t know how to explain the brutal murder of George Floyd to thier children. And yes I can see how it can feel like a difficult conversation to have, and one that has to be age appropriate. But if you feel burdened by this, please take a moment to consider the conversation that black and brown people are having with their children this week. • The fear, anguish and trauma that is felt when overt acts of racism like this flood our media. • When discussions are had about the worth of black lives. When black people are gaslighted globally to this dumb idea that we are living in a post racism era. This is the greatest lie of them all. • When many of us are attacked and silenced when we do speak out. By white people who have no fucking idea. Who prefer and benefit from the status quo. • As such it is VERY important that you talk to your white children and explain. That you don’t remain silent. Because being silent speaks volumes. #blacklivesmatter #nojusticenopeace • Here are some sources if your willing to listen and learn about racism. READ⁣ ⁣ Me & White Supremacy by @laylafsaad How To Be an Anti-Racist by @ibramxk White Fragility by @diangelorobin ⁣ So You Want To Talk About Race by @ijeomaoluo White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by ⁣Jennifer Berhardt Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America⁣ by Jennifer Harvey Locking Up Our Own by James Forman⁣ Between the World and Me by @tanehisipcoates Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts FOLLOW ⁣@theconsciouskid @nowhitesaviors @thegreatunlearn @blklivesmatter

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White people, it’s time to realise that racism is not the big bad shark; it is the ocean itself.

2. Our definition of racism is fundamentally flawed.

For too long, the dominant white narrative of what racism is has failed to equip white people with the tools required to examine and address it.

First, we simplistically define a racist as ‘an individual who consciously does not like people based on race and is intentionally mean to them’. The significance of this is that we wrongly focus on racism being about the ‘individual’ and minimises racism to a moral slight or a form of bullying. 

This simplifies the racism symposium to a ‘good, and bad’ moral indictment, focused on intention and not impact.  

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Therefore, when a white person is made aware of any racist behaviour, the response too often is one of defensiveness. 

Even the most progressive white people will respond with evidence to justify why they can’t possibly be racist. 

They say I’m not racist; I have a Black friend, my brother-in-law is Black, I work with Black people, I have volunteered in Africa’. 

Other white people invoke the notion of ‘colour-blind’ asserting that they ‘don’t see colour’. 

For many Black people, these responses are some of the most insidious and unsettling as they gaslight and deny our lived experiences.  

While we can all have prejudice, it’s time that white people acknowledge that all white people are racist at some level or another.

Why? Well, there are fundamental sociological and cultural forces at play that impact every single member of our society. An internalised system of white superiority that all white people have been conditioned to since birth.

Being good or bad is not relevant, and racism is complex, and you don’t have to understand it for it to be valid. It is a system that you didn’t necessarily ask for, that you may not be able to (always) recognise, but one that exists. 

While these ideas may be uncomfortable for some white people to receive, if we can comprehend gender socialisation, racism should not be that profound to recognise. 

Listen to Mamamia Out Loud. On this episode, Mia, Holly and Jessie speak to Amanda Fotheringham about the parallels that can be drawn between the US and Australia when it comes to racially motivated violence. Post continues below.

3. White fragility is a significant barrier to an anti-racist society.  

Sociologist Dr Robin DiAngelo defines ‘white fragility’ as the inability of white people to tolerate racial stress. 

She says this leads to "white people weaponising [their] hurt feelings” and being defensive when challenged by issues of racial inequality and injustice. 

White people will respond with denial, with focus on intention, withdrawing, explaining, policing tone and collective outrage. 

Even simply me (in this article) addressing white people as white people will cause an irrational meltdown. The easiest way to illustrate white fragility is the All Lives Matter reaction to Black Lives Matter. 

Racism is a white issue, and it will require white people to eliminate it. It will require the examination and dismantling of institutions that uphold racial inequality and white superiority.

It will require the rejection of white comfort and white indifference. It will require white people to look inwards and ask themselves: what does it mean to be white?

As Ijeoma Oluo wrote in 2017, "I don’t want you to understand me better, I want you to understand yourselves. Your survival has never depended on your knowledge of white culture. In fact, it required your ignorance."

At this moment, we have an opportunity for transformative change. But that transformation work and weight must be carried by white people.  

Feature Image: Supplied.

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