If you’ve read my very first blog post, then you know my stance on discussions about race.
I personally do not believe that it’s my job to educate anybody about the deeply embedded institutional racism within society nor do I feel an ounce of sympathy for those who choose to remain ignorant about these issues.
But, as a little black lady living in a big white world, there are many instances in which I feel voiceless (literally + metaphorically). So here we are..
1. Dear white people, no one’s saying that life can’t be hard IF you’re white, but it won’t be hard BECAUSE you’re white.
In the ‘Western World’ and certainly in many parts of the ‘Non-Western World’, white people are born into a society that privileges their race and they navigate through life without negative attachments being made to their skin colour as it is to other people’s.
So yes, as a white person your life can be made harder by your social class, by you being non-able bodied, by you not fitting into the standards of heteronormativity etc.
But will it be made harder based solely on your whiteness?
2. Dear white people, you can’t love “exotic”, “mixed” women without loving women of colour.
If you desire the variant, then you must value the source.
3. Dear white people, I don’t care that you’ve been to Kenya that one time, it has nothing to do with me.
I cannot begin to explain how frustrating it is when white people treat Africa like it’s one big neighbourhood where everyone and everything is interconnected.
When I tell people that I’m Gambian, many times they respond by telling me about the voluntary work they undertook in Rwanda or the orphanage they sponsor in Zimbabwe or the friend they have from Congo as if I’m going to reach inside my bag and hand them a gold star for being so “cultured”.
Do not commodify other people’s identities as a way of making yourself seem more interesting.
4. Dear white people, no you cannot partake in black culture without equally partaking in fighting against black oppression.
If you seriously think that it’s okay for you to wear dreads to make you seem more ~edgy~ but you don’t think it’s your responsibility to speak out when the 10000th innocent black person is murdered by the police then you urgently need to have a one-on-one with your moral compass.
5. Dear white people, no you didn’t necessarily ask for white privilege but yes it is your job to resist it.
White privilege is like oxygen, whether you acknowledge it or not, its presence is continous and unfaltering. Many seem to think that in order to benefit from white privilege, they have to be outwardly bigoted/racist/prejudiced but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
You don’t walk into a shop and scream “I am white, give me privilege” but you’re still far less likely to be followed around by security than a black person.
You don’t go to an airport and scream “I am white, give me privilege” but you’re still less likely to be treated like a terrorist-in-training than someone who “looks” Muslim i.e a South Asian person, an Arab etc.
The systems of inequality that were built through imperialism, colonialism and slavery are still maintained today not only through active racism but also through passive ignorance.
As far as I’m concerned, unless you’re actively opposing these systems of inequality, then you’re actively upholding them.
6. Dear white people, just because you’re a gay man does not mean that you have an inner black woman
7. Dear white people, no you can’t touch my hair.
8. Dear white people, no you can’t blame third world countries for their underdevelopment when it is a direct consequence of ‘Western’ imperialism.
If one follows Mao’s ‘Three Worlds Theory’, then third world countries are the most exploited nations in the world and they are the ones who have suffered the most from ‘First World’ imperialism.
It is very draining, emotionally and otherwise, to constantly hear people who claim to be intelligent going on and on and on about how those countries over there need to work harder or need to adopt ‘Western morals’ (as if there are any) or need to implement smarter policies in order to be more ‘developed’ (as defined by Western standards, of course).
Never mind that due to colonialism, most of these countries have only recently been in a position where they are able to self-govern.
Never mind that most of the valuable resources in these countries have been stolen and used as the basis for ‘Western development’.
But you know, they just need to work harder or whatever..
9. Dear white people, no you cannot be more black than actual black people.
Racial categories may be a social construct but they are fixed. Just because you partake in black culture or excel in careers that are commonly associated with black people does not mean that you’ve somehow magically become transracial a la Rachel Dolezal.
10. Dear white people, just because you have one black friend doesn’t mean that you can’t be racist!
I have too much to say regarding this one so I’ll just save it for another day..
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