When you are a member of the oppressor group you feel you have something to prove. You take a side, either on the side of status quo or of change. And sometimes you can shame those who rigidly adhere to outdated and prejudiced thinking. And when you change hearts and minds, it is a win for justice and equality. That’s being altruistic and seeing the big picture. Trying to forward the greater good.
And we get defensive. I know we feel we have to comment on bigotry to prove we aren’t among the bigots, but we really should pause and think if we really are the right ones to make the point. We cannot accurately explain what we aren’t directly effected by. And when we get it wrong, we need to shrug off our embarrassment, apologize and drink a great big cup of shut the f**k up.
When racism is the topic, white people get a chance to do a little self inventory. A bigotry check up. There’s a whole lot of privileged, colonialist, paternalism to expunge. At least 500 years worth. Are you sure there isn’t a little bit lingering in your psyche?
Great allyship means listening and backing up those who need it. It does not mean taking charge. It does not mean having the loudest voice. It means you are part of the chorus, not a soloist. That need to be in charge? That’s born of paternalism. That’s not trusting minorities to use their own voice. That urge seems like a positive but it’s not. It’s lingering racism. Not all racist thought is obvious. Subtle exertions of racism treat adult POC like children. It suggests a lack of capability and therefore suggests less than full human status. It’s insidious.
And it`s the legacy of the twisted history of invasion, slavery and genocide. So sit back and trust POC to take charge of their own destinies. By all means call out racism when you see it on the small scale in your day to day lives, but let those who are the objects of bigotry handle the big stuff. Trust me, they’ve got this. Unfortunately thanks to a lifetime of experience.