White? You're A Recovering Racist
“It's in the act of having to do things that you don't want to that you learn something about moving past the self. Past the ego.”
To come to terms with the label of recovering racist is to admit your role in perpetuating white supremacy in daily life. As we unintentionally reap the benefits of white supremacy, we in turn uphold it. White supremacy in America functions as a highly strategic and effective machine that weaponizes whiteness against Black and Brown people. It allows you a childhood full of room for mistakes, all the while, shaping a society that interacts with Black and Brown people as malicious or to be feared. It coats you in never-ending comfort and wraps you in a sense of entitlement in every facet of life. It even makes sure to feed you white heroism through lies told in history books that ultimately strip you of compassion and insert you into a cycle of oppression. Allowing this system to work and to continue to function in our society is being complacent in racism. It has taught you how to be racist and how to uphold racism.
Even those of us who may have levels of discomfort from other parts of our identity, our whiteness provides a shield of comfort that manifests itself in everyday instances, such as a traffic stop ending with a warning and a laugh. But it is necessary to realize that in order for one to be accustomed to such a level of comfort, there is an expense. Whether it be through implicit biases you carry around or your silence and unwillingness to defend and show up for Black and Brown people every day, you participate in a system that has taught you how to be a racist. So, what are you to do with this realization?
It’s important to note that having Black friends, dating Black people, or even having Black children is not enough. There needs to be a constant effort towards unlearning. That is what will lead to the dismantling of white supremacy as it has manifested in you through your existence and privilege.
Unlearning and relearning is a lot easier than you might want to believe, you just have to move past the ego and shed the individualistic mindset. The process cannot be mapped out or thought out for you; it has to be one that begins with self-reflection and works its way out. Therefore, the work can’t be done for you but it can be sped up by learning other people's experiences. Reflect on your relationships with the Black and Brown people in your life. Re-examine why they got in trouble that one time in 7th grade and you didn’t. Or when they got pat-down before a concert longer than you did. Maybe even the time you were in a class together and a teacher made a comment about their hair and you didn’t think much about it. We are crawling with biases, start crushing them by analyzing the moments you let them manifest unintentionally. As you begin reprogramming these cords through reflection, you will lead yourself to literature that will be instrumental in the process. (No excuses for not knowing what to read, the work is done for us you just have to find it).
As you navigate the truth and rework what you know, you will feel an assortment of “negative” emotions such as anger, sadness, frustration, etc. Remind yourself that you are bound to be upset when you commit to reframing your worldview and your self-view. Further, remember that while you are frustrated about being complicit in systemic white supremacy, you’re not the one living under its oppression every day. You need to bring these feelings forward in yourself and in other white people. This is your commitment to the collective, remember? Here we have let go of the ego. Return to your friends, families, and coworkers without pride. Admit your mistakes and choose to learn from them. Pouring that knowledge into your community is necessary to move forward in this fight. Commit to change and accountability. Commit to your recovery to become a part of the collective.
“If you kill the white supremacist in your head you inevitably kill the capitalist, the sexist, the racist, the transphobia, the individualism, you trade the I for we”
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