March 2, 2017
By Mollie March-Steinman
Black lives matter more than our feelings. Non-Black POC lives matter more than our feelings.
End of story.
None of our anti-racist ideas are original.
Everything we have learned about racism, we have probably learned from a Person of Color (POC) patient enough to call us out on our BS. Give credit where credit is due!
Unlearning racism is a lifelong process.
As white people, we will always have more to learn about racism. We may never fully understand the extent to which we benefit and others suffer from white supremacy. We need to be humble when having discussions about race with someone who has experienced racism. We need to work on listening. I know that taking up space is habitual for us, it’s how we have been socialized as a product of a white supremacist system. But we need to commit to NOT doing that. We must evaluate our actions in the workplace, on the bus, at school, at home, and ask ourselves if we are behaving in a way that supports white supremacy.
We need to check our egos.
Someone very close to me uses the term “white arrogance.” This refers to when white people behave in an arrogant way as a function of our whiteness, believing that we are immune to harm or scrutiny because of our privilege. White arrogance is related to white fragility because it applies when white people behave as though we are entitled to everything.
White arrogance is most obvious when:
- we are rude to a salesperson because we feel entitled to their time
- we are critical of migrant workers because we feel entitled to jobs that we didn’t even apply for
- we appropriate other cultures
- we profit from said cultural appropriation
- we feel uncomfortable when there is a single thing that doesn’t involve us
- etc, etc, etc!
We need to be willing to put something on the line.
White supremacy will not dismantle itself, and it is not fair to ask POC to exhaust themselves increasing their workload with things we can be doing. We speak about “just needing to love one another.” I want to remind you that love is an action. We can actively show love by putting something on the line for racial justice: our time, resources, safety, and commitment to talk with civility to other white people about racism, to name a few.
We need to get used to being called out.
Toxic whiteness and the white ego is the source of most of the world’s historic and current violence. I don’t care where you are on the journey to anti-racism–as white people, we all experience fragility when confronted with the topic of race or racism. We can take time to study the way our body reacts during these periods of fragility. Do our muscles tense up? Do our heart rates increase? Do we feel a “fight or flight” instinct? Do we feel defensive if we are told something we said or did was racially insensitive? We can consider why we have these feelings, and work to unlearn these behaviors. They are not only unhelpful to dismantling white supremacy–they are taxing to POC in our lives who have enough to deal with without worrying about our incompetence confronting race.
Mollie March-Steinman is currently self-designing an Economic Justice major at Chatham University. She is passionate about promoting peace and justice for all. Mollie is an intern with the NewPeople Editorial Collective.