This is my fabulous friend, Caroline. We’ve spent much of our twenty-odd year friendship jabbering away, swapping books and putting the world to rights, usually over a bottle of wine. She’s interesting and interested, so I was keen to bring her into the Oo! That’s a Bit Racey! conversation.
Last week, Caroline kindly agreed to be one of the voices of Oo! That’s A Bit Racey. I asked her some questions about anti-racism, to understand how she feels as a White woman surrounded by discourse about racism and to share her perspective on the world.
So how was it for you?
The first thing I asked was how she finds Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! I value her opinion and I was pleased to hear that her describe it as accessible, and relatable. She spoke about some of the posts she feels she’s learnt a lot from, and said she appreciated not being made to feel that I was wagging a finger at her. Ha ha!
Does talk of race make you want to race away?
I asked Caroline how she felt about the increased coverage about racism, equality and challenging subjects like White privilege.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that she doesn’t find discussions about race uncomfortable. I know she’s a person of courage who doesn’t shy away from hard work or challenge. She’s traveled, managed teams, carried out some some pretty intense volunteering work and she’s forthright with her opinions.
Caroline described her feelings of sadness that in 2021 we’re having conversations about inequality. She felt there was more progress when she was a student in the 1990s than there has been in recent years. It makes her angry that more people aren’t using their privilege to help create a fairer society.
Not racist is not enough.
One of my goals through Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! is to help people move from being not racist to anti-racist. I think I’m right in thinking that most of you reading this are far from racist. By being here, taking the time to self-educate and engage in the conversation, you’re taking an important step in anti-racism. (Thank you! It’s hugely appreciated.)
I was keen to understand Caroline’s view of what anti-racism means. This is what she understands and advises:
- Talk about race, equality and change
- Call out racism. Challenge the racism you see among your colleagues, friends, relatives
- Educate people – invite them to self educate and put themselves in others’ shoes
- Join diversity initiatives in your work place – or start them. It’s not just down to ethnic minorities or marginalised groups. It’s White people’s responsibility as much, if not more, than theirs.
- And importantly – celebrate diversity. Seek out and share the amazing books you read by Black authors, post a review of a great film, musician, accomplishment.
Great advice, and I don’t think any of this is too hard. Do you?
The F word.
“So….” I asked, “what’s holding people back?”
“Fear“. She said. Fear of saying the wrong thing and being slammed down. Fear of offending someone or of exposing your ignorance. Fear of breaking the egg shells of an emotional and sensitive subject. Fear of putting your head above the parapet and being abused, trolled, disadvantaged.
Wow. That’s a lot of fear.
And I completely get it. It’s scary for a person of colour to go hard in their anti-racism, and let’s face it, we have a vested interest – for ourselves, our ancestors and our children. So maybe it’s even scarier for a White person?
But I will say this.
Self-education, allyship and action are treasured by those of us who work in this space. Giving a shit enough to take action, no matter how small, is HUGE for those of us you’re seeking to support.
We know it’s not easy. But it is necessary. We can’t bring about racial equality on our own.
So matter who you are, your ethnicity, your background, where you live or what you believe in – keep going. Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep asking your questions and speaking your truth. We’ve got work to do and we’re stronger together.
A huge thank you to Caroline for supporting the Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! community from the very beginning, for sharing her voice with us and for her allyship. Sending love!
If you would like to join the conversation, post a comment or message me to take part in a future interview. It’s always nice to hear from you!