“Some White People”–from Womanist Musings
When I started this blog, one of the things that I promised myself is that I would speak unabashedly about race. Often whiteness exists without challenge and when POC do find spaces where they are able to speak about systemic inequality, we are often bullied into silence by the language police. We are routinely told if we spoke in nicer terms we would be less alienating, as though whiteness has any real interest in divesting itself of its power. Gee, if only we had realized that the key to ending white hegemony was speaking in respectful terms, it never would have been necessary to go through the heartache and strife of a civil rights movement.
It is not hate speech to speak critically about whiteness nor is it racist. Due to the fact that whiteness has been so normalized in our society, it is often created as the invisible norm and any challenge to its authority is resisted. We are not post racial and to ask the POC to be complicit in the mendacious meme is to expect our collusion with our own social diminishment.
When I speak about whiteness, I am speaking about white racial privilege and the systemic nature of the ways in which racism functions. There is a clear bifurcation between individual white people and whiteness as a force, yet there are those that still insist on the usage of the word “some”. It seems that any opportunity to discipline speech when someone dares to challenge the hegemony of whiteness is almost irresistible. Insisting on the insertion of the word some, even when intent has been made clear is an assertion of power and an attempt to set the rules of engagement.
The fist shaking and pearl clutching begins as the reader rushes to defend their supposedly attacked identity. This only proves that the reader was not paying attention in the first place. You see, it can be difficult when the whole world affirms who you are to accept that there are spaces that refuse to dedicate the bulk of its time promoting the “everything that is good is white meme”. Whiteness is so used to seeing itself reflected, that even when commentary is not about a particular person, the default position is offense. Note to readers: if it isn’t about you stop making it about you. If you feel a desire to center yourself in the conversation and find offense, perhaps it is more reflective of a form of privilege that you have been ignoring than any statement about white people as individuals.
It is irritating enough to continually be forced to repeat 101 basics because people refuse to even attempt to learn before engaging but to then have your mode expression questioned from a position of ignorance and privilege is positively maddening. There is no honesty in this kind of exchange, only a repetition of whiteness as ultimately possessing the power to control the dialogue.
I am continually annoyed with the hypocrisy displayed by so many. When I speak about the cost of speech and the difference between hate speech and free speech, there is invariably an accusation of censorship and yet when whiteness calls POC angry as a way to silence, that is not censorship. When our lived experience is routinely questioned and then dismissed what is this but censorship? Referring to our critiques as pulling the race card is yet another method of minimizing us.
I could add the word some to my commentary and it would not change a thing because the real fault is having the nerve to question whiteness. This space has even been referred to as racist and judgemental because privilege denial is deemed unacceptable in direct contrast to the ways in which it is actively promoted across the blogosphere. The false colorblind world that whiteness attempts to project is harmful and I refuse to promote this mendacity, so that some may find it more comfortable to perpetuate their undeserved privilege. You are not a committed anti-racist until you can look at the ugliness of racism without flinching and understanding that it is not your place to quash the voices of the oppressed or decide unilaterally that you exist above critique. Discomfort is a sign of unacknowledged privilege and not a reflection of “reverse racism”.
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