This article was posted by a friend, who is black, with the question, “What do you think?” I need to bracket a few things. (1) I believe myself to be rather progressive and open to a diverse field of people, ideas, things, and stuff. I’m the very progressive, anti-racist, cherry-picking sort Mychal refers to. (2) I am biracial and have benefited greatly from being “white.” I struggle to claim an ethnic identity that evades me. I am white by culture, creed, and color. I am Native American by story, blood, and a recent awareness of my Indianness. I have had none of the negative affects of being a person of color and have benefited from being the token color in many power systems. (3) this article cut through my ethnic sensibilities like a warm knife through soft butter. I am most certainly part of the racist machine.
I don’t like that I am part of the systemic injustice perpetrated upon people of color in this nation. I am at least a minimal part of the marginalized part, right? I have fought to be included in the marginalized voice. I have sought to stand with and realize the experience of those crushed, mitigated, and a imitated in our racist systems.
I want to believe that I was not always like this. I grew up in a neighborhood where we were the only white faces in our neighborhood. In middle school and high school my friends were largely people of color. I prayed that God would make me black and crown my head with an Afro. I love Wu-Tang, The Roots, and serve a black church as pastor.
I am still racist.
I grew up as a minority in a neighborhood that was black and brown. I escaped. I graduated college, hold a Masters degree, and a working in another one. I am racist.
While I had friends of color in middle school and high school we existed on two different planes. I lived near the high school in an affluent neighborhood. They lived in the city centers, surrounded by violence, drugs, and held minimal public resources. I moved, they did not. I also have few friends that are people of color. I have filled out my roster with diversity as I am able and justify its dismal record with the very real demands of vocation, family, and the lack of time or energy. I am racist.
While I am a consumer of Black Culture I am also suspect of it. I am suspect cause I keep Black Culture at arms length and reserve intimacy and real acceptance to those parts of culture that I know well. I am nervous, afraid, and cautious of real Black Culture. Afraid that the unjust treatment perpetrated upon the Black Community shall be offered to me in non-digestible bits.
While I biracial I have it had negative physical struggle due to it. I have been able to accept the good, wrestle with the bad, and benefit from systemic racism as I use the Native guilt and romanticism that surrounds me. This doesn’t speak to my CIS maleness, which is another layer of privilege and source of inequality I benefit from.
This part of the article offers me hope, “…it’s not the job of people of color to win over racism, it’s the responsibility of white people to abandon it altogether. We’ve reached a point here in America, though, where we believe the worst of racism is over and the remaining animus is either not worth mentioning or dying off. Neither is true. Racism is the foundation, it literally built this country. It’s going to keep showing up. Denying that doesn’t solve the problem, it exacerbates it, making it so we can’t ever achieve real solutions.” This problem, this scourge of justice is a matter of me acting.
I can help end racism. I can stop being racism and listen, direct, and act. I can speak out and against racism. I can point to the privilege and benefit of this system that values me over people of color. I can acknowledge that I am a part of the reason people of color suffer more and benefit less in this supposed nation of liberty and freedom. I can be racist no longer. I apologize to my friends and colleagues that are people of color for failing them and benefiting from it. Please forgive me.
My name is Ryan and I am a racist.