Fighting Systematic Racism as a 'White-Passing' Mixed Person

2 June 2020
Src: Pinterest


Hello Readers & Friends,

A very different sort of post today. I realise I never really delve into anything remotely controversial or political on here, even though I have two degrees in politics. I like to keep everything light and book-related in general. But with everything happening currently, I feel it's crucial to take the opportunity to talk openly about institutional and systematic racism, on a personal level. This has taken me days and days of writing and rewriting, checking and double-checking, because I find it hard to express myself clearly with something so emotional. But we have to speak up, even if we get it wrong, because staying silent helps nobody. (And if you say the wrong thing, it's okay, you can learn from your mistakes and grow from them.)

I am mixed race. My mother is Japanese, and although I will never understand how it is to be black, I think that my childhood has made me a little bit more sensitive because of experiences I had growing up that a fully white person may not have to experience. (My mum being told to go back to her own country, being called a 'chink' at school, being asked where I'm 'really from' by confused randomers, etc.)

However, I grew up in a super white town, and went to uni in one of the whitest parts of Scotland, and systematic racism is an issue which was never really discussed or even considered when growing up.
As a result of this, something that I didn't fully understand until as late as after university was that racism without malice is still racism. You don't have to believe that you're better than another race to be contributing to institutional racism. You can be racist without meaning to be.

For example - and one that sits uncomfortably with my teenage-self-  if you're laughing at jokes where the punchline is race-related, you're playing a part in a big, societal problem. I was too ignorant and unaware of life's realities to know this. Now I'm not. And I know I'm not the only one - I know that millions of people are probably allowing systematic racism to continue around them whilst honestly believing they're not contributing to the problem.
Ignorance means many people believe certain things are not harmful, when actually, they really are. The thing is, these acts of everyday racism that happen have all been 'normalised', which is why so many people go day by day unaware of its existence. Actually, these 'little' things are the root of all societal race problems.
But it's never too late to educate yourselves, become aware, and change your actions.

One of the first things we can do is speak up. One example of 'little' everyday racism is all the instances when I was working at a bar, and someone would squint at me and ask 'where are you actually from?' At the time I would just normalise it as conversation. If someone asked me now, I would answer differently, and speak up. It's not their business, and singling me out for the way I look is something that makes me uncomfortable and I would ask them to consider why my heritage, as a stranger and a minority, is of any importance to them, and to consider the root of why they are asking me. It's the same for my friend at uni who constantly had people trying to touch her hair. It bothered her, but it was so normalised that she wouldn't make a fuss when it happened. Again, just because you don't mean any harm, doesn't mean you're not causing any. Something I've learnt is that if you see this sort of behaviour happening as a white person, you should feel ready to speak up against it.

Now that I'm older, more educated, and with more life experience, I'm ashamed of my own ignorance and white-passing privilege. I think many mixed people may have the same struggle I have: I'm mixed enough to be hyper-aware, and white enough that I don't feel educated on the matter and like I don't have the 'right' to an opinion.
I have come to understand that the only way to fight the system is to educate yourself and to speak up. And it's the only way that children growing up will be able to understand how everyday societal racism is affecting not only African-Americans, but black people everywhere.

What is happening in America is not okay, but generations of ignorance, historical racism and unconscious stereotyping has let it happen. White people must all be held accountable for what is going on, the parts we've played (even if unknowingly), and do our best to end it. Just because none of us here in the UK can imagine walking down the street and being killed by the force meant to protect us, doesn't mean it's not important. The underlying thing we have to remember - George Floyd was killed over a false claim of forgery, and would that claim have been made had he been white?

I wanted to share some resources to help educate everybody on what it is to live with white privilege, to understand better what daily struggles black people go through, and resources on how anybody with white privilege can help the fight against systematic racism.

It's not about being sorry for what's happening, it's about holding ourselves accountable for our own ignorances and doing all we can to stop passively supporting and begin actively supporting our black community. It's not enough to share an IG post because it's trending and forget about it a few days later. It's not enough for big corporations to send out social media posts saying 'black lives matter' and continue posting mostly white models and forgetting it's an issue all the rest of the year.

Sometimes it's hard to do the right thing, even now I'm wondering if I've said too much or too little in this post, I'm wondering who the hell I am to even be writing it or to feel the way I feel.  But if we all thought this way, nothing would ever change.

We all need to educate, educate, EDUCATE ourselves, open our eyes to the reality of how the world is being run, and fight against it by speaking up and up and up.
And if you're not comfortable speaking up and aren't sure with how to word things, share posts from people who are. Just don't stay silent, and don't continue living in ignorance.

Resources I'd like to share:
1. @Das.Floyd IG post: How Can I Help From the UK? 
2. Donate to the George Floyd memorial fund
3. Follow Kelechi Okafor and her podcast for educational stories
4. My Friend Asked Me to Describe White Privilege by Lori Hutcherson
5. What Is White Privilege, Really - Tolerance
6. Anti-Racism Resources for White People
7. Follow Rachel Cargle
8. Causes to donate to list
9. Mapping Police Violence
10. Dazed list of anti-racist resources
11. Black Lives Matter

If anyone has any more great resources (I know there are thousands out there being shared RN!) don't feel afraid to send them my way so I can read and learn more.

I will now be muting myself on IG as part of the #AmplifyMelanatedVoices movement, to quieten the noise and allow the voices that need to be heard, be heard. I will be back on the 7th!

Thank you,
C x


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