William Wolfrum over at Shakesville pointed me to this post at The Angry Black Woman that asked for responses from allies. First, a little background.
This all started when Pat Buchanan opened his stupid, bigoted head and vomited out a column titled "A Brief for Whitey." It was every bit as heinous as the title makes it sound, and basically argued that black people ought to be thankful for white people's enslavement of them, because they have it better here than their brethren in Africa. So The Angry Black Woman penned a beautifully contemptuous reply titled "Thank You, White People," which pretty much destroyed Buchanan's joke of an argument and placed in stark focus just what white people had done and continue to do to people of color to this day. Once the white supremacists got wind of it, the comments section got loathsome really quickly, which is why this post is happening today.
See, it's real easy to look at the world online and come to the conclusion that virulent, Stormfront quality racism is the dominant paradigm. Racists know very well how to use computers--they've been using them to organize out of the sight of polite society since the earliest bulletin boards and usenet groups, as a matter of fact, which is proof that it's foolish to dismiss them as a bunch of ignorant rednecks.
So this is a letter of support, from a member of the most privileged class, a white male, echoing what another white male (William Wolfrum, mentioned above) said:
A person who commits a racist act or makes racist comments need not be stamped forever with a Black R on their chest. But their comments or actions, regardless of subtlety, must be pointed out. Words have meanings, and words lead to actions. To decry racism only when an obvious hate crime takes place is not anywhere near enough and borders on window dressing. Racism is something we have all been conditioned with, to one point or another. For the vast majority of us, it is not an ingrained, all encompassing character flaw. But it's there.I can't say it better, and I'm not going to try. I've said and thought things about people of color and about members of the LGBT community that I will be ashamed of for the rest of my life. I have stood silent when those around me made racist and sexist and homophobic comments instead of calling them out like I should have. And I am sure that I will, despite my best efforts to the contrary, make such mistakes again, and all I ask is that when I do, someone point it out to me, and believe me when I apologize for doing it.
For myself, looking the other way isn't good enough. I will and have looked at my own racism. I have been and am a racist. But I am willing to look deeply at myself and try and find out why and hold myself accountable. Because the word racism does not terrify me. It emboldens me to change, and to work on my own flaws.
I am an imperfect ally. And I will undoubtedly have racist, sexist and homophobic thoughts and even make comments that show a disregard or disrespect for other cultures in the future. And when I am called out on them, I will face them head on. Because every word, action and thought matters, and adds up.
Racism is not a dirty word. It has infected us all. And because of that, I'm through giving the benefit of the doubt to anyone. Including myself.
And in the meantime, I'll continue calling out hatred when I see it, and trying to show my fellow privileged white males that they are indeed privileged in ways they probably can't even begin to imagine. I know I keep finding new ways that I've never seen before, and I'm pushing forty here. If I can keep learning, so can anyone.