On being a ‘white privileged racist’

Whichever way you see me, that I am.

Happy Monday 🙂
Let me just share this with you, maybe you will find it interesting. It’s a somewhat long read so if you decide to drop it halfway, let me just say the most important thing first: Pay Attention to how you see/feel the world and what that ‘means’ to you. Assumptions/generalizations/beliefs/stereotypes are fine to have, they are a tool to maneuver a life of endless complexity, but at least be curious about them, your own as well as others, dont lazily ignore, nor eagerly/idealistically defend them and pretend that they are ‘right’ by default…. In writing this to you, I am also myself making assumptions, I’m assuming you dont already know, and that’s why I’m telling you. So I’m sorry if I sound condescending…
I’m a ‘white privileged racist’ – and so are 95% of you reading this status, but for simplicity let me just use myself as an example….
I’m a ‘white, privileged racist’.. but maybe a better word would be: ‘raceied, raceified, race-isted’, like someone who is hurried, reified or created….
I’m a white privileged racist, by the SOLE FACT that 90% of the people I meet in this geographical space and time, say, think or relate to me AS IF I am a white privileged racist…
Now, I’m guessing that most of you who know me from Denmark would think it odd to call me a white, privileged racist. I doubt that you would equate me, being ‘colored, homeless, jobless with no income since Aug2016 and a large debt, and appearing somewhat ‘timid’ but kind and quiet’, as being the same as ‘a white privileged racist’… But it’s ‘true’ – BOTH are ‘true’…
And the reason is very simple. I’m a ‘white privileged racist’ BECAUSE SOMEONE CALLS ME a ‘white privileged racist’ (and they do that a lot here, they speak their mind because if they didnt they would go crazy). Equally so when someone calls, or relates to me as a ‘colored non-privileged victim of racism’..
Racism is not just about ‘what someone does’ in the external sense… Just as those black (as well as some ‘red, yellow and white-and-unfortunate’) people back in the late 19th century didnt have to ‘do anything’ to get lynched, I dont have to ‘do anything’ to get treated as a ‘white privileged racist’. People take a quick glance at me, and ‘then they know’, then they have jumped to a thousand preconceived conclusions before a single word has come out of either their mouth or mine. Our relationship has thus been defined. And everything that follows is secondary to this first MIS-EVALUATION of what they or I saw… We usually label people who are oppressing or negatively-discriminating others based on some perceived race/ethnic-characteristics/categorization, as being racists. To me on the other hand, any actions are secondary to the original mis-evaluation of perception, so even if person/institution A is oppressing person/institution B while B is not ‘doing anything’ to A – IF BOTH ARE MIS-EVALUATING EACH OTHER BASED ON LOOKS THEN BOTH ARE RACE-IFYING. If either A or B is mis-evaluating the other, then their relationship together is race-ified, and it hinders the free expression of either.
Race-ism is a structural relationship between people. And to me, race-ism makes for very exhausting, stupid and ‘bad’ forms of interaction.
For sure, whenever some deformed street kid comes to me, calling me ‘white man’ and starts begging for food or money and I dont have anything, there is nothing I would want more than to take my shiny privileged butt out of this place, back to my friends who are ‘just like me’ so we can discuss about the different flavours of vegan icecream and whether or not somewhere along the supply chain, that bio-degradable plastic cup might not be 100% fairtrade… And what do you think that would solve? Absolutely nothing… What do you think campaigns for ‘developing Africa’ solves? More or less the same I think, in general. So by all means, if it makes you feel good then just as you would to a street kid, give some food-money to those ‘campaigners’ or ‘developers’ who have taken their MSc’s in begging.
Remember my car crash last month? 5 minutes after I stepped out of that hospital, still soaked in my own bloody clothes and with a giant bandage around my head, not even able to pay my own treatment bill, no less than 10 eager street kids gathered around me cheering “amerikanah, amerikanah, give us money”… and who can blame them really? It has taken advertisers, propagandists and other extortionists centuries to put all these stupid ideas into our heads, it wont be easy to get rid of…
EVERY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL IS COMPLEX and you shall relate to them in exactly that way – with respect, honesty, humility and love above everything else. If you already know for yourself that such thing would not be possible for you, then that’s ok too, work on your own things first, or go sip your Martini til you run out of money….
Now enough with my criticism. What do I propose that we ‘do about it’? How can you ‘break free’ from this structural relationship that encompasses your life even if you dont ‘do anything’? I have 5 suggestions for you.
1) Take a course
To all my fellow white privileged racied friends, take this course https://compassionateactivism.leadpages.co/htw-program-jan-2017/
To all my fellow colored non-privileged racied friends, take this course http://www.compassionateactivism.com/program/healing-from-systemic-oppression/
To all my fellows who are ‘just like me’, white and privileged in one location and colored and non-privileged in another, take both courses and see if that will make you feel any happier.
Some people of course, are strong enough to know, and know-how, to carve out their own rightful space in this world irrespective of the structural conditions that exist around them, and kudos for that, but then what?
2) Experience being in the shoes of ‘the other’
If you are ‘like me’, 100% ‘white’ AND 100% ‘colored’, who grew up feeling ‘colored and non-privileged victim of racism’, then go to Africa.
If you are 100% ‘white and privileged’ and nothing else, then try get yourself to the Gulag for an indefinite period of time. I have some friends from Russia that might be of help to you.
If you are 100% ‘colored and non-privileged’, then I’m sorry, I have no idea where you can go to feel ‘privileged’. My best bet would be to try seek out some niche-group away from the ‘mainstream’, focused on some specific ‘business’, ‘culture’, music, spirituality, etc. where ‘color’ doesnt matter and achievements are celebrated for the value it brings to that group… But being recognized for ones achievements and contributions is not really the same as being ‘privileged’ not even close… But maybe you will meet someone in one of these circles who will have sympathy for you and cut you a piece of their privileges.
… You could also just ‘play out’ all these roles in the convenience of your own city. Following the outline of Jane Elliott’s *Brown Eye, Blue Eye* experiment or Zimbardo’s “Stanford Prison Experiment”, I have some friends in the theatrical arts who might want to help out.
3) Observe – by asking more questions
Be curious of your own statements. Are they statements of facts or statements of inferences, judgments, etc. Are you saying ‘the sun is doing a good job’ or are you saying ‘the sun is shining’? Ask others the same too. Ask what they mean when they say X, or what X means to them. Ask what their assumptions are, and what they propose ‘to do’ based on their assumptions, what conclusions they draw, etc…
Use the 5 Why’s – it’s a quick and good technique to get a rough grasp of the roots of any issue. For instance, if someone says that you are black, ask WHY do you think I’m black?… Because your skin is darker than my skin… WHY do you think my skin is darker than your skin?.. Because you have different parents or grew up a different place?.. WHY do you think I have different parents or grew up in a different place than yours?… Because the world would be much more fucked up if we were all in-bred and grew up the same place.
Or you could also just ‘play it safe’, asking questions like: How are you?, how is work? how is your family?, how was your day?, what are you looking forward to?, what is the best thing that has happened to you today? what’s your favorite food/color, etc.
If you want to discriminate between people, to find differences, then do it properly. Have the awareness that NO TWO INDIVIDUALS ARE THE SAME, NOT EVEN ONE individual is the same today as they were yesterday.
4) Read some more
The social psychology of Stigma https://books.google.com/books?id=–a5c_Q0COYC
You are not so smart https://youarenotsosmart.com/
Chimamanda Ngozi: Americanah https://chimamanda.com/books/americanah/
Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart
Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness
Audre Lorde, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Hume, Wittgenstein, Habermas, Dennett, Zizek, Korzybski, Homer, Shakespeare, etc
5) Breathe
If you ‘see something’ and you are about to jump to conclusions, just breathe.
If you are arguing with someone, and about to be defensive, just breathe.
Breathing never killed anyone.

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