White Ladies: Admitting We’re All Racist is the First Step to Dismantling White Supremacy | by Bailey Jane Borchardt | AMPLIFY | Apr, 2021

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Bailey Jane Borchardt

*Editor’s Notice: That is an inaugural piece in an AMPLIFY collection concerning the methods wherein white girls should be working to undo white supremacy in international growth. For those who’re involved in contributing to this ongoing dialog, please observe the submission directions.

In January of 2017, following the 2016 presidential election, I keep in mind the devastation I felt after I discovered that my mom was amongst the 53% of white girls who voted for Trump.

“You understand, the way you’re feeling proper now, scared and anxious, is how I felt when Obama was elected.”

As quickly because the phrases left her mouth I spotted that my mom — a loving, affected person, and compassionate lady who raised me to all the time converse up, stand out, and be type to others — was afraid that if a Black man held the best workplace in the US, a race-war would escape, and she or he could be handled the identical method Black folks have been handled because the first ship carrying enslaved African folks landed on America’s soil in 1619. Briefly: my mom was racist.

Once I expressed these sentiments to her, she responded in fury.

“I’m NOT racist! I’ve by no means used the N-word! I deal with everybody equally! I don’t see coloration!”

At that time in my life, I used to be attending weekly social justice-themed direct actions all through New York Metropolis and volunteering on a racial justice process pressure on the New York Civil Liberties Union. I used to be simply three years deep into my journey of unpacking my position in upholding white supremacy. Within the midst of addressing my very own internalized racism and becoming a member of the combat in opposition to the systemic racism that had lastly change into clear to me, it had by no means dawned on me to speak to my mother about who she was voting for previous to the election, or about race basically. The privilege I’ve as a white individual to study racism, fairly than expertise it, blinded me to what’s arguably crucial factor white folks must be doing to dismantle white supremacy: holding ourselves and one another accountable.

At International Well being Corps, a company I’m presently celebrating my three-month anniversary with, we discuss lots about how methods are constructed by folks and stop to exist with out them. For higher or worse, this is applicable to all methods, together with white supremacy — a system that was created by white folks and continues to perform by the hands of white folks. As Black folks, Indigenous peoples, and folks of coloration have been vocalizing for hundreds of years, racism reveals up in lots of types, and it’s not simply concerning the sweeping systemic racism they expertise (although that is nonetheless a vital part) but additionally concerning the people who keep the established order.

…as soon as we get snug with the discomfort of being labeled racist, we will start to handle the methods wherein we as people uphold white supremacy, and maintain one another accountable alongside the best way.

How might we (white folks) not be inherently racist after we had been introduced up in a society wherein each fiber of its cloth is woven collectively by white supremacy? This isn’t to say that we should always relaxation simple as a result of everybody else is racist; it means as soon as we get snug with the discomfort of being labeled a racist, we will start to handle the methods wherein we as people uphold white supremacy, and maintain one another accountable alongside the best way.

It’s white males who usually get blamed for the system of white supremacy and its continued dominance. Whereas they’re definitely on the high tier of beneficiaries, white girls can’t be absolved of accountability for the methods wherein we profit from and perpetuate white supremacy. In actuality, white girls have been equal foot troopers of white supremacy since its creation. I’m not merely speaking concerning the white girls who actively participated in chattel slavery as slaveowners. Or the white girls who had been married to Ku Klux Klan members and actively concerned within the Klan’s mission. And even the 53% of white girls who voted for Donald Trump. I’m additionally speaking concerning the “well-intentioned” white girls who name themselves feminists in a motion that has traditionally shut out Black girls, Indigenous girls, and ladies of coloration.

Supply: Salisbury College by way of The Equality Institute

Throughout each wave of feminism, white girls have taken up house, wielded the agenda, and silenced and shut out BIPOC girls to get forward. They’ve traditionally and systemically declared the plight of Black girls, Indigenous girls, and ladies of coloration as their very own solely to win rights and milestones solely for themselves. In her now-infamous article, ‘When Feminism is White Supremacy in Heels,’ Rachel Cargle highlights the numerous methods wherein white girls’s have to defend themselves when being referred to as racist is a hurdle to reaching racial fairness:

“Many liberal white girls have a direct response of protection when somebody challenges their intentions. And it’s in that exact second they should cease and understand they’re really a part of the issue. It’s by no means the offender who will get to resolve after they’ve offended somebody.”

Allegations of racism are hardly ever met with considerate reflections. Whereas scripting this piece, I cringed on the some ways wherein I’ve allowed my very own ego to get in the best way of tangible change and private accountability. Whereas I’ve by no means been referred to as racist point-blank (at the least to not my face), I’ve definitely tried to absolve myself of my accountability by distancing myself from the white girls who’re overtly racist. I willingly admit that I’m responsible of not spending sufficient time reflecting on my actions and that my need to be a “good white individual” has undoubtedly steamrolled those that may need been making an attempt to, for a scarcity of higher phrases, inform me about myself. I’ve used the truth that I’ve by no means been referred to as racist to encourage this notion that I used to be one of many good ones.

Within the age of social media, particular person acts of racism have gotten more and more seen. These acts are nothing new, it simply so occurs that now there are a plethora of instruments to seize racism in real-time. Amongst all of those viral movies, a central determine has emerged: a girl the web has deemed “Karen.” Whether or not or not their names are literally Karen, these girls all have one factor in frequent — they’re knowingly weaponizing their whiteness. As a result of all of them appear to suit the identical description — white, older, and infrequently Southern — it has been all too simple to place these Karens right into a field labeled “racist” and provides “good white girls” reassurance that they’re totally different. That is extremely harmful. And, as we’ve seen by the likes of liberal white girls like Amy Cooper and Stephanie Denaro (amongst many others, ourselves included), inaccurate.

This false divide between “the great and the dangerous” gives us cowl and reductions the blurred strains of familial bonds and friendships with the “Karens” that exist inside our lives. As necessary as it’s to do the inner-work of dismantling racism, it’s equally as necessary to carry each other accountable for doing the identical, significantly in areas the place you haven’t any viewers. I sincerely thought that I used to be doing a service to the world by calling my mom a racist, all whereas discounting my very own racism that led me to suppose that a couple of years of inner-work made me a gatekeeper on the subject to different white girls.

As soon as we will put aside our egos and cease losing time with the interpersonal battle of who’s racist and who isn’t (trace: all of us are), we will start the uncomfortable and crucial work of redistributing our unearned energy to create an equitable society.

Holding ourselves and different white girls accountable is mentally and emotionally exhausting work. But it pales compared to the mentally, emotionally, and bodily treacherous experiences white supremacy creates for Black folks, Indigenous peoples, and folks of coloration residing in America. As soon as we will put aside our egos and cease losing time with the interpersonal battle of who’s racist and who isn’t (trace: all of us are), we will start the uncomfortable and crucial work of redistributing our unearned energy to create an equitable society. Time spent nursing our white egos equates to lives of Black folks, Indigenous peoples, and folks of coloration misplaced.

Bailey Borchardt is a graduate of Metropolis School of New York’s Colin Powell Faculty of Civic and International Management, Communications Affiliate at International Well being Corps, and a resident of New York Metropolis.

International Well being Corps (GHC) is a management growth group constructing the following technology of well being fairness leaders world wide. All GHC fellows, companions, and supporters are united in a standard perception: well being is a human proper. There’s a position for everybody within the motion for well being fairness. To study extra, go to our web site and join with us on Twitter/Instagram/Fb.

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