I didn't really know whether to write anything about this (in great detail), 1. I'm a 30-year old white male and 2. I can be very unbiased - which leads to dancing delicately around things people would rather not hear or speak about
However, after seeing a bunch of stuff saying "it's not enough to not be racist, you must be anti-racist", I've felt compelled to say something. For me this is dangerous territory - when we impose that people MUST do something in order to be considered anti-racist, we are saying those who do not are otherwise ignorant/lacking compassion.
It does make me feel uneasy, I don't like the idea of being pressured or shamed into anything. In my mind, it devalues those who do it of their own accord, often with thought and genuineness. Of course this particular message and protest is hugely important, and so the benefits of raising awareness may outweigh the downside of doing so in ignorance or without actually having insight on the subject. As a white person, I may not be able to understand or empathise, but I can certainly raise awareness. This in itself causes the dilemma of whether to post or not (much like me) and it doesn't help when people are suggesting that being silent is essentially revealing your secret racist side.
Some people will find it hard to put their words down onto paper, some might have their own issues, or some may be waiting for such a time that they've gathered their thoughts, drawn something or been inspired to post having done their homework. Some may be contributing elsewhere, by signing a petition or protesting or helping their black friends/peers privately. And of course some will be racist or ignorant and unwilling to change/learn. The point is raising awareness can look different from person to person, and it worries me to see a division be born again, out of those who decide to share / say something online vs those who don't (but whom do it in other ways comfortable to them).
I know what you might be saying, you're worrying about the wrong thing here, but I also do believe that it's all too easy for somebody to place a hashtag, or say a few words, without actually taking the time to understand the issue/s in their entirety, almost like socially conforming. For me, in most ways you look at this, it comes down to education, but an almost biblical scale change is needed in order to deal with the issues directly. You might be forgiven for thinking "what difference will my post make in raising awareness, when i recognise that isn't enough?".
Don't get me wrong, speaking out about it, not being silent, is 100% going to help for those that do so. It might reach the right people who CAN effect change. Will they though? Who knows. I do think this is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness, but I don't think it should just stop there and be forgotten about, i'd hate it if people sharing #blackouttuesday was all for nothing, and it ended up being a social media movement and nothing more.
For me, I couldn't and won't sit silent, but that isn't only about racism, I am outraged at the prejudice, privileged, corrupt and broken system we have that results in things like racism, sexism and fascism. It's why I started writing, and change is something I want. I've educated myself (he hopes) on how backward the entire system is, and I see the tentacles of "ism's" flowing their way through every crevice of society, almost as if it's underpinning the whole thing. This isn't just about the police, it's about politics, it's about the judicial system, it's sociological, it's about the educational system, it's about corruption and it's about improving ourselves as a human race in a world that has outgrown the systems we're still living in.
In my opinion, this all boils down to education, and a system designed for this type of division/problems to run rife, evidence to this is the fact that since I can remember (and people before me) I've seen protests, I've seen news stories and I've seen horrors and yet I continue to see these year on year? Why? With all the shouting and the protesting and the "hype" , why do we not see effective and impactful change?
If our education system fails to educate our children in ways that I feel it should nowadays (culture, life skills, sociology, politics + more) then we are immediately on the back foot. This is prime time where our children are forming their ideas/opinions/beliefs and structures to make sense of the world out there. They are learning behaviours and defence mechanisms. And what an utter fiasco it is.
We always say it, children are sponges, and racism isn't nature, it's learned behaviour. As is most of the other ism's. The lack of education at school for these types of subjects blows my mind, I have had to learn SO MUCH since leaving school, that I question the entire educational system now. It has it's good sides, sure, but it's a sham in the sense of values/beliefs it instils from a very early age, and the impact this has isn't given enough credit. As we move further and further into an emerging new world, it is becoming more and more apparent how dated our educational system is, and it allows, by absence of important subjects, the "ism's" of the world to flourish.
What we need is children who ask questions, that are curious and that seek the truth. Question authoritative figures (my Dad taught me this early, always ask why, why am i doing this, why are you asking me to do this) and educate them on the wonders of the world, that they CAN be whoever they want to be (i don't mean job-wise). Educate them on ALL of history, not just the history of the winners. Help them to be compassionate, understanding, kind, mindful and knowledgeable. Help them to mould their own perspectives, free of any outside influence or persuasion. Just because you believe something, doesn't make it right/the only way, so consider what you "implore" on your children. They are and will shape the future that we come to know.
If our educational system isn't going to do this, then the duty falls upon the parents, or the brothers or the uncles. In other words, US. It is in line with the whole of what i'm trying to say which is to take personal responsibility for where we're at, and that comes down to the way we parent, what we put in/on our bodies, and the way we conduct our lives. My issue is, we've got a society that I personally see as being lazy when it comes to parenting(no blame, just, byproducts of society). Stick them in front of an iPad or phone so we can have some "down time". The other day, i was speaking to a child who literally had no concept of where fruit/vegetables came from, to him, these come from a shop... but if we take the time to educate them on how to grow your own carrot, physically do it with them, then suddenly an entire new perspective is revealed - this is the same in soooo many areas, we have forgotten how important and how big a responsibility it is to parent a child. We give up responsibility to outside shareholders so quickly, in order for quality of life improvements or the "easy" life. How do we deal with this problem, that ultimately manifests itself in things like racism?
Unfortunately what I see is a person who learned to be racist, learned that he could "get away with it" and benefited from white privilege. He benefited from a system where he wouldn't of even been able to inwardly reflect on his wrong-doing, until such a time that everybody told him and there was outrage. This is where I think white privilege is widely misunderstood, it isn't about the benefits you can exact from being white, it's the lack of being black. It's the things you take for granted, by simply being white. The analogy I think of is when a police car pulls up behind me, and despite doing nothing wrong, my heartbeat flutters a little. Imagine this but everywhere, in every conversation, in every look and in every interaction. This doesn't even come close to defining what one might've experienced throughout history to this point, and I wouldn't be the person to be able to do that, but I have reflected on how it might feel.
The officer involved must be reprimanded and investigations need to be had, but that also doesn't deal with the root cause. How do we ensure that nobody racist is on a police force? How do we ensure personal beliefs or situations don't creep over and effect somebody's decision making who should be unbiased and working for the PEOPLE? How do we ensure things like cronyism don't allow racism to thrive? How do we monitor every and all situations with a corrupt main stream media, selectively picking what to and what not to make news? These things SHOULDN'T be allowed to happen, but something needs to happen either in the approval/interview process, or (repeating myself here) we must somehow educate those that remain ignorant/phobic.
Typically people that are racist, have a racist "reaction" in a knee-jerk "defence mechanism" that they learned from when they were younger, or they learnt it from their parents, or an uncle, or their peers, or whilst they were working in the 80/90's with a bunch of homophobic, xenophobic racists. Whatever way they came to the "racist" reaction/opinion, we must understand that changing that opinion or thought or reaction can't be done through anger, shaming, violence or protesting. It must be done by reverse engineering what led them to that thought. A person might be less inclined to vocalise their racist thoughts during these times, for fear of retribution, and that is good, but it doesn't deal with the issue on a root cause level. They might seek out like-minded individuals, or they might just secretly carry on with their life (being racist) but on a much more discrete level.
My question is how do we deal with those that have learned these racist behaviours? What if their entire belief system is built upon it, and their surroundings don't ever pull into question those beliefs? Nobody questions what they say, and thus he/she doesn't question him/herself. Ever. They might watch the protests and new stories and say something like ... "typical... always resorting to violence". Racists will do exactly what we do, look at the same picture/thing but make it work for the limitations of their outlook and perspective. How do we educate these people that have infiltrated every area of our lives? The ignorant people in positions of power, that are allowed to function in certain areas of society?
People are people, and they're everywhere. No amount of system, rule, legislation, protest or whatnot will work until we ALL take personal responsibility. Personal responsibility is only acquired once you've looked inwards and figured out how mental racism is. Hopefully the awareness being spread and outrage being displayed WILL cause enough noise that those who have allowed it to operate year on year before, will be forced to make meaningful and lasting change toward the persistent and ongoing oppression.
Personal responsibility looks different from person to person, it might be not holding your tongue when your boss says something racist. It might be risking or jeopardising your career/lifestyle by speaking out to someone "jovially" being racist. It might be ensuring you take a moment to teach your children cultural differences, take a pinch more responsibility over how impactful we are when influencing our children into adults. Whatever it is, WE have to build our own future, and stop putting the responsibility on others to fix things for us. We need to be the change.
So I do stand, and I do and will share things and be better in my efforts to diminish this problem. We can't let wrongdoing exist, simply because it doesn't affect us. I will make efforts to be more conscious of this, and to spend my time/life advocating for equality, humanity, compassion, education, understanding, being the best versions of ourselves and responsibility. It isn't up to other people, it's up to us, to co-create our future's for the better of humanity.
To finish, when things are said like "all lives matter", I like to look at it in the sense of there is a lot of other things happening, sexism, fascism, trans-phobia etc etc, yes, those lives matter too, of course, and the solution is the same as I've outlined above, personal responsibility, education, and enough people standing together in those efforts. With these types of changes, we can expect not only racism to decline, but all the other phobic fallacies that exist in our day and age. In that sense I do agree, albeit people are misusing that argument or misunderstanding it.
But, it's a big shift, huge, and I don't quite think it's achievable in the arena we currently operate in, the people pulling the strings seem to allow it to continue, and we allocate a month a year to talk about it, or it's a big thing only when something unjust happens.. I don't like to be a negative Nelly, and I wish with all my being that it could be stopped in one fell swoop, but the realist in me says we need something so grand, so large, that this will be a cyclical repeat we've come to see year on year. We can't let that happen.
How do we, the people, guarantee it doesn't?
EDIT: I found some v.useful images with links that I've been using that might help: