A Letter to Everyone I Know

I need your help. 

I was going to post this a while ago, but I was worried about reactions, so I didn’t. 

But now, people I know are hurting so badly, I must.

The last few years have caused me to examine myself, who I am and my place in the world. I consider myself a hard worker and a decent, reasonable person. I don’t intentionally hurt others and I am generally law abiding. When I behave against any of that, I try to look at myself and my actions and try to adjust. I am of reasonable intelligence and I am always studying to get more qualifications in order to prove what I have learned. 

However, my experiences and ambition have been marred by something, and every day I see life damaged by it.

Something ugly.

I wanted to understand that ugliness rather than just be angry and despondent about it, and so over the last couple of years or so, I have committed to reading a number of books, reports and accessing resources to see what is the background to it. 

What I found dismayed me even more. I came to realise my own complicity in it but also my powerlessness.

Two ideas have lodged with me: one, to paraphrase Dr Robin DiAngelo, if it had been only up to women to do so, they would have achieved the right to vote without the need for the suffragette movement; they needed men to make the change, and support it.

And another quote stuck out, so clearly, so brightly, that it is imprinted itself on me as an explanation for everything. 

“…if all you’ve known is privilege, then equality feels like oppression.” – Dr Adam Rutherford 

This, together with Rihanna accepting an award at the NAACP asking her friends, who are not people of colour, to “pull up”, because our struggle is yours too, has prompted this article.

The help I refer to, is I need to ask you to be anti-racist.

I am! I hear you cry.

I’m sure you are against racism as an idea, but can you see it for what it really is? Do you continually act against it?

Well, if you can answer yes to these four questions then, you are indeed, anti-racist. 

If not, I’d really like you to consider doing the work, so you can act in future. 

– Have you read Dr Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and Reni Eddo Lodge, Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race?

– Do you understand the role of whiteness (and, for those of us who are people of colour, being socialised as white) in maintaining racial oppression in today’s world?

– Do you engage in real conversations within trusted relationships about race with people of colour knowing they can cause you discomfort?

– Do/Can you call out systemic and institutional racism? Not just obvious overt examples?

Please be assured, I am not directing this post at any individual. I know I’ve hardly had any conversations about race, real ones, with anyone except my husband.

It’s really important to understand, it’s not just up to people of colour to educate you, you have to want to find the info and do it for yourself. 

So many of us are tired.

Racism is about impact, not intention; that’s why calling out the bias in systems is so important and the thought processes that get them there.

It means overturning the core of yourself and seeing what’s there and observing all systems, institutions, processes and people around you. 

The veil will be lifted, the scales will fall from your eyes, and then, only then, will we have a chance of beating this ugliness, called racism.