Racism Can Affect White People Too. No One Is Immune From Racism. Black People Can Be Racist Too.
“Its time we expand our thinking and definitions around racism.” (M’gadzah 2023).
This is what I’ve been saying for some time now.
Check out my article “if racism was a virus….”
Diane Abbott has been suspended as Labour MP after racism letter. I realise that in the world of politics nothing is ever simple and that there may well be political motives behind this story. However, it’s still important to look at the lessons this is throwing into the spotlight.
“She had been responding to a comment piece in the Guardian questioning the view that racism “only affects people of colour”.”
“In the letter, she wrote that Irish, Jewish and Traveller people “undoubtedly experience prejudice”, which she said is “similar to racism”.
“…But they are not all their lives subject to racism.”
In my article ‘If racism was a virus… ‘ and in my book Understanding and Dealing with Everyday Racism- The Six Stages Framework, I talk about the need to re-define and expand our thinking around racism.
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I’ve always found it problematic having this hierarchy of racism. I also find it problematic hearing people say that only White people can be racist but Black people cannot be racist.
Let’s talk, it’s time to have these discussions. They are long overdue. It’s amazing how you can feel a sense of disloyalty even by saying that Black people can be racist. Recently someone (White) responded to a Twitter post of mine and said “the trouble with your people is…”
I wrote back explaining that I don’t subscribe to “your people or my people. Racism is racism no matter what colour you are.”
The sooner we can accept this the more we are likely to find ways of dealing with the challenges that racism poses.
I recently also had a couple of Black people attend my Eventbrite seminars on the The Six Stages Framework and they took issue with the fact that I was saying that Black people can be racist too and that I was saying racism can affect different groups including White people.
I also recently tuned into a discussion on Clubhouse made up of mainly Black people and many were again saying that Black people cannot be racist and that if you are White you cannot experience racism. “You can experience biases and prejudice but not racism.”
Whilst I recognise that definitions of systemic and institutional racism talk about power, individual racism is something that anyone of us has the potential to exhibit. Black people and people of colour can be racist too. Furthermore we too can be racist towards White people.
The news story on Diane Abbott does not surprise me as I’m aware that there seem to be these confused views about what racism is and what racism isn’t.
The news story says much of what I’ve said in my article: ‘If racism was a virus.’ It states that:
“Racism takes many forms, and it is completely undeniable that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, Travellers and many others.”
I totally agree with its assertion that:
“A hierarchy of racism only divides communities and assists the racists.”
It’s time to expand our thinking around racism and it’s time to change the narratives in the conversations we have whether we are White, Black or any other colour. We need to confront our biases, prejudices and potential to discriminate. We need to call each other out when we are with our families, community groups etc.
To judge someone or discriminate against someone because of the colour of their skin is wrong, full stop. To not recognise the suffering of others because of the colour of their skin is also wrong.
We need to stop colluding with certain beliefs systems and behaviours which exist in our communities/ friendship groups and ethnic groups.
Racism is racism and no one group gets a free pass on discriminating against other groups. No one group gets to ignore the pain and suffering of other groups regardless of the suffering or pain they themselves have experienced in the past or continue to experience.
If we are to limit the affects of racism in society we all need to speak up when we see racist behaviours and language and that includes challenging our own people whoever they may be. We need to challenge each other without fear of being perceived to be disloyal.
When you see racist behaviour or hear racist talk, whatever groups you are in CALL IT OUT.
(Check out my prejudice racism spectrum for a warning guide of signs and symptoms of racist behaviours.
As I said in my article, failing to call out racism lowers the baseline and, continuing the analogy of the racism virus, it makes it that much easier for the virus to spread.
Anti-racism and stopping racism is everyone’s responsibility.
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