I’ve made it to Day 14 of 28 of the #meandwhitesupremacy challenge. This is the halfway point recap of what I’ve been learning about myself. I’ve taken a few days off because to really do justice to this work, I end up spending 3-5 hours a day writing, re-writing, reading, listening and educating myself. I don’t want to rush through and miss the benefits because this is hard work, it’s takes me a lot of time and I really want to get it. It’s become like a part time job on top of my full time job. I realize that it’s a token of the amount of energy it takes BIPOC every, single day to navigate a racist world filled with people denying and ignoring their reality of brutality and dehumanization.
I remember a line in the 2001 movie, Save the Last Dance, where Kerry Washington’s character says about Julia Stiles’ character, “White so she gotta be right.” I didn’t really get it, but for some reason that phrase stuck in my head for a long time. Now I understand why. As a white woman I exist in a space where I think that I can be right a lot of the time. If I see that I am wrong, I’ll most often admit it, but it’s true that my default state is thinking that I am right and that I know best because I’ve worked hard to cultivate all that I know and believe to be true. My attitude, expectations and confidence in being right are partially fueled by unearned white privilege that I haven’t been acknowledging. I’ve spent so much of my life seeking truth, but when it comes to how I thought about racism, seeing my part in white supremacy and my beliefs about myself in this regard, I have been dead wrong for a long time.
At this point I can no longer unsee all the racist stereotypes, prejudice, micro and macro racial aggressions and cultural appropriation everywhere. My white fragility is a persistent defense mechanism against seeing and acknowledging, but still I am noticing tone policing and “not seeing color” everywhere now. White supremacy is continuing and being upheld by all of us that claim to be “good people” and “not racist.” We all must fight together if we say that we believe in equality, condemn racism and want to make reparations for our extensively bloody history of colonization. I can no longer hear the words “white woman” and think of innocence or goodness now that I’ve been schooled about my weapons of whiteness. It’s our turn to be humbled and find a better way. More women of color are calling us out now, but it’s not new or news. It’s time to learn from BIPOC about sisterhood that is inclusive rather than exclusive. The only way to make our white spaces inclusive and tolerable to BIPOC is to deal with and acknowledge our own racism by doing this work, and then continuing this work as a daily practice.
I’m unearthing my inner white supremacist. She’s so wrong, misinformed, ruled by denial and ego. The righteousness I’ve felt about my efforts to be a ‘good person’ is pure white exceptionalism. The task of destroying white supremacy has no use for “good girls.” The good girl concept and all the effort I’ve put into that part of myself must go down with the patriarchy.
Upholding white supremacy has had me feeling bound and gagged. It’s a codependent unspoken agreement to always cater to white, male power. I’ve been standing by in white apathy, silence and superiority as lives are threatened, ruined & lost. I’ve allowed my internalized toxic whiteness to overpower and drown out my nagging feelings about dehumanization of BIPOC.
I’ve celebrated, admired and been jealous of BIPOC’s beauty. Then I’ve stolen their gifts and healing practices, used them to make money for myself all while ignoring their struggles, hardships and wishing they would tone it down with all the anger and intensity. I’ve minimized the traumatic impact my whiteness has had on BIPOC & indulged in exploring my own traumas ad nauseam.
My anti-blackness is something I’ve never looked at head on before. I could feel it’s cold, ugly presence lurking under the surface in every encounter with any BIPOC in my life. It is a bitter pill to swallow just how deep that virus runs through me. Being an ally means learning more every day about the realities of BIPOC, teaching myself to check my privilege at every step, and sharing what my journey with others. Being a co-conspirator means showing up properly in spaces to support BIPOC, centering their knowledge and leadership, paying them well for their work, emotional labor and doing the work that needs to be done to make more progress.
When my anti-racism work gets performative and my usual white woman tricks flare up, I know that BIPOC see me slipping. They know what is happening before I do since the racist behaviors of spiritual, liberal white women are so crystal clear to BIPOC, even while we may remain blinded by our own whiteness. Owning my white vices publicly is having some impact in my community. I’ve found myself a bit too eager to jump all over other white women for engaging in these behaviors I’ve been doing. I’m finding better, more effective ways to share in each new moment. It’s humbling to remember that this work is never going to be done. In the moment where I think that I get it and I feel very smart about what I’ve learned, I recognize that is more white supremacist ego bullshit angling for white exceptionalism and a reward for being “one of the good ones.”
It was very convenient to blame white supremacy on extremists and alt-right insanity, but it’s got deep roots all over my neck of the woods. It’s largely unacknowledged in almost all the spaces I’m part of, but I’m changing that both by taking myself to new spaces where more BIPOC are and by beginning think creatively about effective ways to challenge some of the overly white spaces in my life. Blaming racism on someone else was a luxury of the past. Plausible deniability is no longer an option. It was only ever an illusion that I deep down I knew was bullshit.
This is in response to Layla Saad‘s 28 Day You & White Supremacy Instagram Challenge. @wildmysticwoman
Day 14: “This week was heavy. Ugly. Many of you had multiple thoughts of running away and forgetting you’d ever heard of me or this challenge. But you’re here anyway, because you’re starting to understand what the *real* work is. And once you begin to see it, you can’t unsee it.
So what have you begun to see that you can’t unsee? What have you begun to unearth about yourself when it comes to white supremacy? What have these last 13 days (and especially the last 6 days) shown you about how white supremacy works through you? What have you learnt about the dehumanising ways you think about and treat BIPOC, and why? What have you learnt about you and anti-blackness? If you came into this challenge thinking you were ‘one of the good white people’ or an ally to BIPOC, how do you feel about that now? If you were craving cookies and rewards from me and other BIPOC during the first week of this challenge, how do you feel about that now? How are you thinking differently about your white privilege, white fragility, white tone-policing, white silence, white superiority, and white exceptionalism now? How are you thinking differently about your white supremacy now?” – Layla Saad