I was scrolling down my Facebook newsfeed the other day and saw Everyday Feminism had re-posted an article with the title “Choose a Shirt: Risk Being With My #Ownracism.” It was an article written by a wealthy white liberal male who had made his own shirt in response to the “Racism Ain’t Over But I’m Over Racism” shirts being sold. His version is a handmade A-Shirt with the phrase “Ask me About my Racism” written on it. Right away I felt some kind of way but I kept reading and sure enough my suspicions were confirmed. This was another rich white boy who was “raised in an academically-oriented environment by parents who taught me about racism and the American struggle to overcome it.” He was “an eager member of ‘A World of Difference,’ which was a diversity-awareness group of mostly White high schoolers [sic] who visited our local middle school to teach the mostly White younger students about tolerance and respect for diversity.” He went on to attend Wesleyan University, which he says has a “strong liberal and radical student population” there he “learned about my own privilege and the ways I personally participate in and contribute to oppression.” Which of course. Of. Fucking. Course. Led him to become “an inner-city middle school educator and taught in and out of schools for 10 years with the goal of helping to create a more just society.” He then goes on, in perfect white liberal fashion, to list the ways in which he has distanced himself from American Whiteness: “My wife is from Peru and we have two biracial daughters. My phone contact list and my Facebook profile are proof of how many brown-skinned people are among my friends and acquaintances. I have lots of Black friends!!!! I LOVE the Daily Show, I HATE Fox News!!! I speak Spanish and have many relationships with people in Spanish. I took West African dance in college and it really taught me how to move!!! I have traveled to countries like India, Bangladesh, and even lived for 2 months with a host family in Guatemala.”
The rest of the post is how racism is an issue inside of him (and every other white person) and that the way to combat it is to simply #own it. He even has a real cliche mantra full of nothing he could actually DO. This shit right here is too much. This dude, like so many other white liberals with money, completely misses the point. It is disingenuous and self-serving. Yes, racism is inside you but it is also outside you! And when you say the key to ending white supremacy is to #ownracism… Oh wait, the article doesn’t even use that term… when you write a fucking essay discussing racism and don’t use the term white supremacy you are counter-productive. You mention Mia Mckenzie and “Black Girl Dangerous” but I’m pretty sure you are they type of “ally” she is talking about. This has to stop. You have to STOP!
This dude, and other white liberals, just like conservatives, believes racism is a problem of individual bigots. This isn’t surprising, the system works for them. They cannot honestly discuss a radical altering of our relationship to resources, to the Earth, or to each other because it would mean giving some shit up! It’s ironic that the name of his blog is “Risk Something” because he is doing the exact opposite. He is trying to convince people that he is a “good” white person. He went to college, he even taught in the hood… fuck you. You really want to #own your racism? Start Here:
- Own whiteness and white supremacy. And I don’t mean melanin levels. I mean the ideology, the culture. I mean that fact that the SYSTEM is set up for white people. Racism is a product of that system. You cannot fight racism without indicting the system and culture. Figure out how to be cultural again outside of the America consumer capitalistic frame.
- Understand that this is an issue of material resources. The reason racism began is because wealthy elites wanted to maintain their economic superiority. Consider how your class position serves as an obstacle for the destruction of white supremacy.
- Never, Never cite your wife, children, friends or your global voyeurism and cultural tourism as credentials. What the Fuck!!
- NEVER use that you taught in the inner-city (we all know what you mean) as a credential. Instead go teach where you came from. Teach your wealthy white parents that whiteness is the problem and to identify with the Earth and resources and people differently. And that leads me to my next point and really closes the circle nicely
- Never think an institution prepared you to end racism. Remember, racism is a product of white supremacy and white supremacy is systemic. Master’s tools and master’s house… get up on your Audre Lorde.
Understand white liberals, when you take this approach to ending racism you are perpetuating the problem. The fact is white supremacy will not end if we don’t have a cultural shift; if we don’t change our relationship to the Earth and to each other. That shit is radical and I bet they don’t teach that at Wesleyan. And since the article ends with a Baldwin quote so will I “As long as you think you’re white there’s no hope for you”