It’s coming up to Oo! That’s A Bit Racey!‘s first birthday. Happy birthday to my treasured project and beloved pastime. I’m a sucker for getting reflective on a birthday, so I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learnt in the last year of my musings and scribbles.
The purpose of Oo! That’s A Bit Racey! is to get people talking about race. And when I say race, what I really mean is racism. I hope to break down some of the barriers to conversations about race – systemic racism, personal prejudice, unconscious bias – and to get more people thinking about and doing something about their own anti-racism.
I still think this is a big but not impossible task. And I’m taking tiny steps towards driving change. I hope I’ve inspired some conversations by putting my own thoughts, experiences and learnings out there, and by bringing others into the conversation too.
So what have I learnt in the last year about this taboo topic of conversation? And what are the key reasons talking about race is so hard?
I still believe that talking about racism is key to driving change. To not talk about it halts progress. It’s dangerous. As Martin Luther King so famously said “In the end we will remember not the words or our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
As Caroline, explained in A is for Anti-Racism, talking about race can be scary. What if you offend someone inadvertently? What if you mess up your words and expose your illiteracy in the language of wokeness? What if you say something that gets you trolled? Horror upon horror upon horror.
In reality, the above point only relates to White people. What I perhaps haven’t acknowledged enough in my writing to date is that, for Black/Brown/Mixed people, talking about race is really, really hard. Correction, talking about racism is hard. Listening to the injustices people suffer is akin to therapy every time. Recounting your own experiences is even more challenging. For some it’s impossible. (A little pointed remark here – I would challenge anyone struggling with point 1 to reflect on point 2.)
Talking about race is distasteful, dull, hard work, unnecessary, passé….. for those with White privilege. For some (I hope not for the many), if it doesn’t effect them, so it doesn’t concern them. They’d rather talk about something else.
It’s as simple as that. Some people don’t like to talk about race because they’re racist. They don’t agree with what the anti-racists are saying, so they don’t engage. (Or they know better than to voice their opinion out loud in certain circles.)
What do you think? Have I missed anything here?
And if you struggle to talk about race, firstly, thanks for being here, and secondly, what are your reasons?
I always love to hear from you – let’s keep chatting!