anti racism…what went wrong?
October 29, 2009 § 24 Comments
anti racism is a white supremacist movement. because the big names/experts/the ones who make the money and prestige of it. are majority white.
huh. that sounds a bit harsh when i actually type it out. but it is in essence what i think of anti racism.
what i mean is. that the ones who are the most ‘successful’ in anti racism are white. they are the authors, bloggers, consultants, workshop trainers, speakers etc. yes there are lots of poc who do anti racism work. or better said there are a decent number of poc who work in the anti racism industry.
and i have to differentiate between anti racism the theory (almost completely developed by poc under the designation of critical race theory) and anti racism the industry.
so when i speak of the current anti racist movement, i am speaking of the public face of that movement which is presented by those who work in the anti racism industry.
and i think to understand the dynamics of white leadership of the anti racism industry. you have to look at white people developing whiteness studies. as a response to critical race theory. and yes, i do think that white folks had really good intentions in beginning whiteness studies in that they were attempting to follow the leadership of people of color critical race theorists. peggy mcintosh. unpacking the back pack. the privelege checklist. tim wise. white like me. paul kivel. et al.
just that white critical theorists should definitely know that good intentions dont amount to much in this world.
and let me be honest. when i did anti racism workshops i insisted that i have a workshop trainer who was white. the last thing i wanted was to sit a room full of white self proclaimed progressives as i explained white privilege and supremacy. by myself. if racism is traumatic in and of itself. then being the black girl anti racism trainer in a room full of white folks who still believe in the white man’s burden (even though they would never call it that…ahem…solidarity with (third world) communities under the threat of violence…when will those poor countries ever learn…ahem…) is like. well. walking into a war zone unarmed ready to die for the cause. (white people aint a cause im willing to die for you just yet.)
what i am saying is that part of white folks leadership in anti racism movement is due to people of color asking for white folks to take leadership.
but with all unearned privilege comes stupidity. because the line in the anti racism mvmt is that it is white people’s duty and responsibility to speak to white folks about white privilege. people of color shouldnt have to do it.
yes. poc shouldnt have to do it. but. when white folks are getting mad props, respect, accolades, book deals, professorships, awards, etc. when white folks use the fact that they identify as white to gain a leg up on people of color in the anti racism industry/profession. then it is racism pure and simple. and if you are white and in the anti racism movement then that is what you are doing. lets be race critically blunt about it. your whiteness works in anti racism movement the way it works in any other sphere-aka toyour advantage. i have seen it enough times to be nauseous. a poc says something during a discussion of anti racism. the white folks ignore it. or guffaw. a white person says the exact same thing. whitie is the new messiah of anti racism. happens. like all the fucking time.
what i mean is. that the common wisdom in anti racism circles. is that white folks are more likely to really *hear* and take seriously the words of a white person talking about white racism than a poc. so the best thing that white person can do if they want to work aganist anti racism is to be the voice of anti racism. and to explain to white folks the nature of racism.
sounds great right? so glad that i dont have to go around explaining to white folks why they are racist any more. right?
nope. because not all white folks are going to do so out of the kindness of their own hearts. they are going to do so. and they are going to expect to be compensated adequately for their work. as tim wise explains. if he wasnt doing this work. he would be doing some other job. and using his white privilege (unconsciously) to succeed and thus be perpetuating the racist system.
the problem is that when he does anti racism work. he explains that he ‘opens the door’ for other poc to be considered leaders and experts in anti racism. why the fuck in the anti racism movement to we still need white gatekeepers? this is what gets me. it’s the anti racism movement! we dont have a bunch of men leading and speaking as the voice of feminism. we dont have a bunch of skinny chicas being the (body) of fat acceptance. we dont have a bunch of straight folks being the voice of lbgtqia ness. but in the anti racism movement. it is white folks who speak. so that white audiences with money are not required to listen and take seriously the voice of color. ‘
dear fucking god.
here’s the problem. if the anti racism movement. even the anti racism movement. perpetuates the same structures of inequality and white privilege as other movements do (feminism. anti war. queer). in that the leaders are white. mostly white. almost all white. then the anti racism movement. is racist. and if the anti racism movement is racist…then what the fuck is the anti racism movement about?
and. i love many anti racist white folks. partnered with one. some of yall are real. down. i know you know where it’s at. but seriously? i have to admit. that i too judge a movement by its leaders. and when the leaders of the anti racism movement are white. i have to wonder. what went wrong?
but i have to wonder what has been the effect of white leadership of anti racism? do we have a less racist society? or a differently racist society?
r u better off than you were 4 years ago? or are you just different?
i dont know why i have not read a lot about the white supremacy of anti racism movement. seems pretty obvious to me. but then im no expert (on racism).