Dear Defensive White People

 Yes, I am talking to you. The white person who claims to not be racist and yet continues to say racist things about people of color and indigenous people. The one who complains about people of color and indigenous people being lazy, slutty and whatever insult you can come up with to perpetrate your white privilege. The one who gets defensive when a person of color or white ally calls you on your racism. The racism that you perpetrate is harmful to people of color. Silence on top of racism is even more harmful and it is quite obvious that unity needs to be encouraged among the oppressed classes.

Let’s take a look at our society. Our society is a capitalist, racist, patriarchal, classist and homophobic one. People of color become the hated class in this society. White people become brainwashed at birth to hate people of color and to view themselves as above people of color. It is true that most white people would never outwardly say that they are racist because being outwardly racist is morally reprehensible. Most white people are often not aware that to be racist is more than just committing violence against people of color, words and actions (or lack thereof) are often the greatest indicators on where white people stand on the rights of people of color. White people often are acting racist without realizing that they are. It is sad that every time a white person claims that we live in a post-racial society, the legitimate complaints from people of color and indigenous people get automatically shot down by the same white person making the claim. Let us take a look at some of the arguments that white people make in defense of their racist statements against people of color:

But Indigenous people get paid by the government when they turn 18! Why are they still complaining?

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because the history of Indigenous people getting murdered, raped and basically discriminated against is often erased and never talked about? Maybe the fact that Indigenous people still live in poverty and often don’t have access to education and healthcare? Indigenous women are coerced into prostitution and either end up missing or found dead in a ditch somewhere. Receiving money from the people who basically stole their land is not going to erase what has been done nor does it compensate for the many lives that were lost, languages that are dying or already dead and the tribes that were killed into extinction by the white settlers.

*It is also never mentioned that the vast majority of bands do not give their members any money once they hit adulthood. Does this mean that Indigenous leaders are corrupt? No, it could be for a variety of reasons. One of the most pervasive reasons is that oftentimes the band suffers from lack of government funding. Most often the funding is not enough to cover some of the expenses that are oftentimes very expensive. Housing, repairs, plumbing, electricity, delivering fees (for ready-made houses that are delivered to the reserves), taxes, among other expenses especially if the funding is lower then what is needed to pay for it all. Oftentimes Indigenous students who go to school never see the money they are supposed to receive for their education (field trips, lockers, tutors) and the school will use this money for something else other then giving the student what he/she needs. The students are often thrown (for lack of a better term) into “special education” classrooms even though they are perfectly capable of succeeding in the classroom. This happens not only because of lack of funding but because of racist attitudes from students and teachers. (This would definitely be apparent and pervasive in Southern states and farming provinces in Canada). The students defend themselves from racist attacks and are accused of being the ones with the attitude problem. There are often cases in white-dominated towns where the taxes do not seem to be going to pay for very important expenses yet none of the angry townspeople never seem to make the race of the white mayor as the negative characteristic. There is definitely some hypocrisy and double standards in our society in terms of who is leading. The worst that a white corrupt leader can be judged on is their character and not how their race is the ultimate indicator of their behavior.

It is not “racist” for a person of color to question their society nor does it mean that they are “ungrateful.” They are just demanding a just world where people of color are treated fairly and like human beings, they want a world where racial stereotypes are a thing of the past and not part of media culture. Unfortunately, it seems that white people refuse to change or to stop racially stereotyping people of color, the cycle of racism, colonialism, white privilege and discrimination will still continue when white people refuse to take responsibility for the hatred they perpetuate either through silence or outward violence.

You are just as racist for saying that white people are bad!

That is a seriously ridiculous accusation to make! Not only that, it is also a derail. It is impossible for “reverse racism” to have the same effects as real racism (naming it real racism for the sake of distinguishing). To simply put it, white people cannot face racism. For a person of color to be “racist” is simply a reaction to white privilege. They have every right and good reason to be angry at white people, people of color have every right to call out racism when they see it. It is not YOUR RESPONSIBILITY as a white person to tell that person of color how to be an activist or how racism “doesn’t exist”, they know it exists and they don’t need white people to tell them that. In short: It is impossible for the privileged to be oppressed in regards to the system that they benefit from.

White people have  never been raped, enslaved, murdered or faced colonialism by people of color. White people have taken advantage of indigenous tribes whose weapons technology where weak compared to the guns that the white settlers possessed. The white settlers also took advantage of indigenous people by giving them gifts, not telling them that the gifts were infected with infectious diseases. Many indigenous tribes in North America have died from the small pox epidemic from white settlers giving them blankets that were infected with the virus. Yet, we expect them to forgive us for our sins against them? “The past is the past!”, I hear you say. If that is so than how come racism still exists? How come people of color get murdered? How come pornography depicting people of color as sexual deviants still exists? Why are there still people of color in poverty especially women of color? As long as oppression exists, the oppressed classes will remain the oppressed class and collective freedom cannot be achieved.

Stop being offended for them! They can do it themselves!

Yes, they can. This is where the white ally comes in. The responsibility of battling racism and confronting the powers that be in our society should not be solely on people of color. White people who want to advance the status of people of color are an important part of collective resistance against the system. That is why they are called allies. White people such as myself want to fight alongside people of color to advance their freedom because collective liberation and freedom is a number one priority for activists of many stripes. Calling out the racism of white people is not “being offended for them” it is calling out racism and dismantling the racist system. It is educating people about the effects of racism and why racism is still a big deal in our society.

So, what if a person of color called you out on your racist comment? Would you say the same thing? Call them ungrateful? Call them racial slurs or tell racist jokes? If yes, than by definition, you are a racist. No amount of crocodile tears or emotional pleas is going to change that person of color’s mind or the white ally’s. You are proving their point! That you want to keep your status as a privileged person in society, that you don’t want people of color to be equal. I know, it is painful to accept the truth but you will get over it once you learn to accept it, once you realize that this society needs to be changed!

But rap/hip-hop music is sexist!

Yes, that is true that the rap and hip-hop we hear on Top 40 radio is sexist. But, who creates the demand for this type of music? Who creates and perpetuates the ideas that are presented in rap music videos and songs? Answer: The white men in suits created those ideas out of racist tropes. Those white men in suits create the market that is Top 40 radio and who gobbles it up? White people. However, there is rap music that is very anti-sexist and breaks the stereotypes of black rappers being gangsters who beat women while calling them nasty names. They are not incredibly hard to find on the internet but they are inaccessible. Why? The white men in suits don’t want that music to sell. They want to keep perpetuating the same old racist and misogynistic bullcrap without taking any responsibility for it. White men in suits make the money, people of color get the blame for the “degradation in our society.”

But what about rock music? There is a huge amount of misogyny that goes unnoticed in rock music! These silly rock-loving white kids act all superior to hip-hop fans because their music is not like rap music or so they claim. When I look at the rock musicians of today, I see an equal amount of female-hate and the “money and bitches” trope in rock videos and songs! Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch” or any song by Korn or even Hinder are examples of misogyny in rock music! The claim that rock music is less sexist than rap is pure bullshit, plain and simple. This claim is just another example of  removing all their responsibility and piling it on someone else.

But they buy expensive phones and computers!

So? Everyone buys expensive things. That is called consumerism. Don’t run around acting like you are never affected by consumerism because guess what? Everyone consumes something! Even faux morally righteous white people like you consume stuff. It is an unfortunate reality that people buy things that they cannot afford. Commercials flashing across our television screens telling us to buy this and that item otherwise you are not happy. That argument is another derail because it delegitimizes the complaints from people of color who live in poverty and do not want to live in those conditions. It is insulting to lower class people and people of color who are fighting to get out of poverty. Food is also expensive, it is also a necessity. Working class people can only afford the horrible cheap food which is riddled with GMOs and other nasty chemicals that cause serious illnesses. No wonder obesity is high among working class people of color! The food that they can afford is basically shit and not good for them!

Conclusion

There are plenty more arguments that legitimizes racism and inequality for people of color and the indigenous. It is important that these arguments are debunked and that racism in our society is acknowledged and put to a halt. People of color and their arguments for equality need to be put in the forefront and acknowledged in society especially in the case for women of color. The battles for justice and freedom are often long and treacherous ones. Many will give up and lose faith in their goals and ambitions. The others who did not give up will keep fighting until the very end and no amount of silencing, attacks, slander and false accusations will keep a fighting spirit still.

*I posted this on Facebook and one of my friends corrected me on the first argument presented in the post.

Recommended Links:

http://www.mediacoop.ca/blog/dru/15493

http://www.wce.wwu.edu/resources/cep/ejournal/v004n001/a005.shtml

http://www.blackdemographics.com/housing_poverty.html/

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2012/pollution-poverty-and-people-of-color-richmond-day-1/

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/not_so_golden_years.html

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