Confronting White Privilege

I have been observing lots of friend’s and stranger’s responses to the recent attacks in the USA, I am talking about the murder of George Floyd in Powderhorn and the attempted murder of Christian Cooper in Central Park. I say attempted murder of Christian Cooper because the white woman involved in that incident was pretending he was assaulting her in a 911 call; if he hadn’t have filmed the event, I believe he almost certainly would have been shot and murdered.

Rita Ora shared a Times cover image on Instagram from 1968 and it said, ‘America, 1968: What has changed, What hasn’t’. The ‘1968’ had been crossed off and was replaced with ‘2020’. This image stayed with me so I went back and shared it in my stories with the caption, ‘An elderly man I know, yesterday showed me a blurry tatt on his arm which says ‘we are all brothers under the same sun’ I don’t really have words for the constant news of people being treated differently for the colour of their skin. It’s not just America but it feels amplified there. This should really say ‘World 2020 – what has changed, what hasn’t’.’ I felt compelled to write something down, a relative’s neighbour shared that tattoo with me after watching the news and said it’s the one thing he has never and will never stand for (just to reiterate that age is never an excuse). Through my story I wanted to share that it shook me but sadly didn’t surprise me that these events happened.

I hope and trust in myself to always call out any racism I see or hear, to question people’s understanding of the world if they choose to see it in this destructive way. I know I do not fully understand but I always try and I thought I’d write this post to share some links to points of thought about what needs to change in order to create real progress in society across the globe.

I am not someone who has all the answers by any means at all so I hope you will respect that I am just trying to do my part and use this platform – no matter how small a reach – to share some real life responses to these never ending injustices.

Courtney Ahn created an illustrated series called ‘A Guide to White Privilege’ and I have noticed this has been circulating social media a lot. Whilst it has a palatable, millennial design, it does make serious points to consider if you are white. My understanding from this is that Ahn makes the fundamental point that to have white privilege isn’t to be racist but it is the fact that you are not disadvantaged/ defined because of your skin colour. Something that affected me most from this series of images is the fact that, as a white person, Ahn writes, my actions are not perceived as that of all my race. That assumption that a racist cop makes when they murder innocent people because of the colour of their skin. They have judged all people of one race with one judgement. Everyone is individual, all people should be treated with respect and dignity. I watched a video yesterday of a White American man come at an officer with an Axe and they did nothing, George Floyd did nothing and was brutally murdered on the floor like he was nothing.

I want to send you to the Instagram of the actor Ashley Walters for a video he posted. My friend shared his video which he posted captioned ‘When will this stop?’. As an actor myself, I have loved his acting since I was a teenager when he was in Hustle but his credits go way past this one TV show. From watching the video it seems that people have been criticizing him for not responding on social media to the events of George Floyd’s murder. So, the video was his response. He explains that he himself was stabbed at 15 years old by racists and left for dead and that he has fought years of oppression within life and the acting industry. I felt like his post was key to share because it brings it back to the UK, to remind us all that these events are not isolated in the USA. Also, it shows the importance that POC should not feel like they must respond on social media to any events of racism – with Ashley Walters as an example, he has been responding and fighting racism his whole life. Let everyone respond how they choose and also, don’t you think it’s the whole world’s responsibility to respond, not just those (at times literally) in the firing line. Just because someone isn’t visibly on social media responding, doesn’t mean they’re not combating racism.

The last thing I want to share is an article written back in 2018 on a website called Tolerance.org. It’s a teaching resource, based in the USA I believe but I might be wrong. Teaching in a Diverse Society is a topic for lectures when studying for the PGCE, to help raise awareness of how to celebrate different cultures in your classroom. I found this article interesting to read because it breaks down the history of the term white privilege, how to recognise it and truly understand it. It also breaks down what we can do once we ourselves recognise our white privilege which is often a difficult thing to understand.

As I said before, I am only one person who definitely does not have all the answers at all and I still don’t have the words for what’s going on but I hope my contribution to the conversation of researching and understanding white privilege is helpful to others. These three links are only a small splash in a much wider ocean of articles, videos and images, I urge people who want to understand more to go and do your own searching.

L xx

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