Dismantling racism goes far beyond white people doing the work, it also takes light skinned people of colour to contribute, to deal with our own anti-blackness embedded within our own communities. We need to be mindful when talking about our experiences and hardships. We tend to forget that we also have a lot of internalised racism to unpack and unlearn. That does not mean that we have to do it all alone though.
Colourism is a practice of favoring lighter skin over darker skin, colourism is a tool to ensure that systemic racism thrives within our society. We need acknowledge that this is a global issue, socially constructed by white colonialists to use as a divide and conquer tool. This should not only be seen as a United States problem, but as a global system created by those who exploited (and still exploit to this day by different methods) BIPOC communities for their own profit.
The term ‘people of colour’ is meant for people who are other than white, at the same time it can also be used to invalidate black people's experiences. We may experience similar instances of racism however, we must acknowledge that our society favors those who are in close proximity to whiteness. It takes courage to speak up about our experiences, nevertheless we should not undermine nor tone police someone for how they chose to speak up.
Additionally, as it is crucial for us to have honest dialogue around this topic within our circle of friends, family, colleagues, we should be equally aware on how we raise awareness on social injustices online. Particularly sharing graphic content that exploits traumatic incidents. If you think about it, why are black victims continually shared and dehumanized on social media, but when a horrific incident has occurred involving with white victims, their bodies receive better treatment from news reporters, journalists and even from us who report incidents on social media. Sharing such explicit content does far more harm even if the intentions were to raise awareness on injustices happening in real-time. Sharing horrific videos of black bodies being murdered normalizes the murders. Think twice before sharing a viral video.
There are many, many layers to an oppressive system. Oppressive systems have been in place long before our generation and are still prevalent today. It’s not just race; it is also about gender privilege, financial privilege, geographical privilege and more.
Before the pandemic, lectures have not been made accessible to non-able-bodied people for example, suddenly when everyone is affected, universities have been able to adapt quickly. Why is that when the majority are affected, only then will change take place?
You are not a superhero
When starting out in activism, make sure to ask yourself who is it for, is it for yourself? To boost your own ego? To make yourself feel better? Will it bring you some form of financial gain? Or are you getting involved simply because it is the right thing to do?
If you are new to activism or have not been really involved with actively participating in protests, workshops, panels etc. You do not have to stretch yourself out to do anything and everything. Start small, find what you can do within your own community. Do not book any mission trips or unethical voluntourism packages. (There are quite a few reasons why doing these are wrong and unhelpful). Start out with something you have a skillset in, be it marketing, having good connections, organizing etc.
When joining protests as a white ally, be careful not to insinuate violence as this will give mass media the opportunity to stain your protest’s message. Be there to act as a shield, protect those who need their voices to be heard.
More importantly do not get involved with organizations that intend to burn you out. You can only do so much and sacrificing your mental health should not be the price you pay for wanting a better future. Burning out is not the way to get us justice. Remember that rest is also an act of activism. In a world where hustle culture and workaholism are glorified, resting is also a form of protest.
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