Recently I wrote an article about what “white privilege to me.” The article is available at the following link: https://lookingleftnj.com/wp-content/uploads/TMNP-Issue-10-Final-.pdf
As an extension of that article I am writing what I believe my responsibility is, in the fight to eliminate all forms of racism. I do this from the perspective of being someone identified as “white” by our society. There are numerous resources and no shortage of people telling black people and white people how to “fix” things. The views below are mine based on my experiences.
Racism, White Responsibility to Me
I must recognize that I have benefited from white privilege whether I want to or not. My previous article dealt with white privilege as it pertains to simply remaining alive. The additional benefits of being white in this society obviously extend well beyond life and death. Without taking the time to elaborate on each area, it is certain that in the past and today white people fare better than people of color in housing, wealth and income, educational opportunity, criminal justice, health, and much more.
I must call out racism when I see it. It is time to expose people who support racism in any form. I am reminded of the sign seen on our streets recently “White Silence=Compliance.” If you permit racism you endorse racism.
I must study and learn the history of white supremacy and privilege in order to know best how to confront and eliminate it.
I must listen and accept the descriptions of the impact racism has on the people who experience it. As a “white” person, I do not have the right to decide how racism impacts people of color. I must listen to those affected and act based on their knowledge and experience.
I must take the responsibility to eliminate racism in society. People of color did not create discrimination against themselves, white people created it. Its creation and continuation exist exclusively to allow people of privilege to benefit from that privilege in every way possible. So long as white people knowingly and unknowingly benefit from racism it will continue.
The responsibilities and obligations touched on, do not begin to address the complexities of the issues which must be addressed to begin the process of eliminating racism and its effects. It has taken us since the beginning of human self-awareness and over 500 years in the “new world,” to get to the point where persons of authority and power, without compassion or empathy, slowly murder people they see as outside the norm, without any thought of consequences, on camera.
I have ended most of my writing for over three years with the words “We will not be silent!” Today, I would like to borrow a well-known phrase and apply it to the challenge every one of us faces, given where we have been and where we need to go. “We Shall Overcome.”