“I don’t see race.”
On the surface, this might seem like a harmless statement affirming that race doesn’t matter to you one way or another. You may think you’re uber progressive by stating something like this, and that your POC friends applaud you for being such a libertarian or whatever. But what it’s really doing is claiming that all of us are the same – which isn’t true. You may argue tooth and nail and fully believe that it is true, because we all deserve the same basic human rights (which is true). But as much as we would like to live in this accepting, utopian world some paint in their heads, it is our responsibility to acknowledge that – since we do exist within a societal system of racism and colorism – the color of our skin can and does dictate the way each of us experiences life, among other factors.
Stop making it a goal to teach your children to be “color-blind” and all those equivalents. Fuck that shit. To state that there is no difference between a white person and a black person, that it’s only about personality and upbringing, is to completely erase the black person’s experience of oppression in today’s society – and that’s not helpful. Hell, the ability to be colorblind is in itself a privilege – because us brown folk don’t have that luxury. We get reminded in both monumental and small, fleeting ways that many still see and treat us as inferior. Being told otherwise, that there’s no such thing as color, by some super proud liberal is negating that experience. How can we expect someone to be an ally when they can’t even acknowledge the reasons a person needs an ally?
If you can’t see my color/gender/orientation/etc, then you can’t see the oppression I face (withcho insensitive, clueless ass). And if people don’t acknowledge that oppression, work can’t be done to eradicate it.
“Privilege isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s all about what you do, or rather what you don’t do, with it that counts.” ~ The Kat Call
This goes for all types of other things as well, not just race. Most people have some kind of privilege, y’all. Look at me. Yes, I’m a queer, dark-skinned, Black, un-degree-d, working class woman. But also:
- I’m able-bodied.
- I’m genetically smaller/thinner.
- I’m cis-gendered.
- I am (somewhat) college educated.
- I live in a First World Country where I am a legal citizen.
And the only way to truly help people who aren’t as privileged as I am in these ways is to acknowledge my privilege, listen to them, and try to execute what they suggest are actual solutions/aid. Because if everyone being treated humanely and having access to all the things is something we want…“if that’s something we want to change, denying it [privilege] isn’t the answer.”
You want to help your black friends? Acknowledge your privilege.
You want to help your women friends; acknowledge your privilege.
Your immigrant friends; your non able-bodied friends; your trans, genderfluid, non-binary friends; your gay and queer friends; your fat friends; your poor friends; your working class friends; your POC friends; your non-Christian friends – acknowledge your privilege.
You wanna help *people* be considered as people? Check your privilege.
But also realize that checking your privilege is just the first step – that self-reflection and personal growth is just the tip of the iceberg. The real work is still out there, waiting to be done.