The editor of New Sacred, the official blog of the United Church of Christ, recently penned an essay on the subject of “white privilege,” explaining to readers helpful ways in which they can spot racism in their own hearts.
Marchaé Grair, an African-American who also serves as the social media associate for the progressive denomination, began her snark-filled letter, “If you are white and clicked on this blog to be congratulated for naming your privilege, you can stop reading in a few characters.”
Grair goes on to note that though it is a “good starting point of solidarity with people of color (POC) to name that your privilege exists,” merely identifying white privilege within oneself is like “seeing a fire and never calling 911. It just doesn’t do much.”
“Many white allies focus on calling out overt racism while not focusing on the more subtle ways they may perpetuate the racism they condemn,” she writes.
Grair proceeds to offer a helpful list of the 10 ways in which “anti-racism allies” can “confront the ways you may also be racist.”
1. Take up minimal space during anti-racism dialogues and protests.
2. Stop contributing to gentrification and calling it “urban development.”
3. Listen when people call you on your microaggressions.
4. Never invite POC to the table for the sake of claiming diversity.
5. Refrain from using your POC friends as your “urban dictionary.”
6. Stop lifting up non-confrontational POC as examples for what POC activism should be.
7. Call your friends, family and co-workers out on racism—even if a POC isn’t in the room.
8. Understand that all anti-racism work doesn’t look the same and advocate accordingly.
9. Realize that all discussions about race aren’t for you. And be okay with it.
10. Recognize that you’re still racist. No matter what.
Grair offers lengthy explanations for each of her 10 tips, but in fleshing out her final tip, she summaries all those listed before it:
Sometimes, anti-racist allies talk in an "us vs. them" framework when they discuss race, with the "us" being POC and anti-racist allies and the "them' being racist people. That’s an oversimplification of centuries of racism, and it also avoids one simple truth.
White people always benefit from institutionalized racism, no matter how anti-racist your ideologies may be. You can’t disconnect yourself completely from the racism from which you benefit, and recognizing that is a large step in rejecting white privilege.