Monday, May 03, 2010

stuff white people do: think that in terms of race, things are getting gradually better

Always worth reading, but this post especially, I am so guilty of falling into this, and for a very long time. :\
“It seems to me that a common consequence of this belief is that when most well-meaning white people witness or hear about a new act of racism, or encounter new evidence of institutional racism, it doesn’t stick with them. It’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, because things are getting better, so why remember it? And so, the example doesn’t get added to the many earlier examples that they’ve witnessed or heard that also didn’t stick with them. The evidence doesn’t accumulate into an understanding that racism is nowhere near going away, because in response to the latest example, something inside of us often says, “Well, that’s sad, but hey, things are getting better. Eventually, that kind of racism won’t happen much at all anymore. Just like racism in general.”

So when I try to talk about racism with white people, one thing that’s blocking their reception is this sense that it’s not as important as I’m trying to say it is. Because, you see, things are just not as bad as they used to be, and they’re certainly going to be better in the future.

This kind of thinking sort of short-circuits serious consideration of today’s racism; it also lets white individuals who are willing to at least acknowledge racism off the hook in terms of actually doing anything about it.”