After seeing Sarah Jeong’s controversy explode over twitter, and reading the general response of white people can’t experience racism, I’m going to attempt to reflect on my own biases and thinking and attempt to use my white privilege to talk about hard things.
Australia is pretty racist
I have an almost impossible chance of experiencing the same levels of systemic racism as my neighbors of color do. Aboriginals are some of the most incarcerated people in the world, they live on average 10 years shorter and generally have a shittier time with life. The didn’t win the genetic lottery to be able to thrive in today’s society. Australia is an extremely racist country to live in. Osman Faruqi received a lot of racial hate for having an opinion about the plastic bag ban in NSW which motivated this tweet:
I am definitely speaking from my high white horse of privilege here. Reading up on this topic, I discovered that people tend to conflate experiencing prejudiced and racism. The main difference being that racism is systemic, race is also a human made idea made to benefit 1 group of people over another group. For further reading, here is an article from the Huffington Post on 4 reverse racism myths that need to stop.
Race is a human made construct
It doesn’t exist biologically. For me race means culture. But it can also be connected to location, language and shared experiences. Race has a disturbing history and it was constructed to help the colonizers of Europe to justify their superiority. White Racism is a course that’s received a bit of backlash, I guess some people’s ego’s are so delicate that they can’t allow the study of racism from a sociological, cultural and historical point of view.
Sexism and Foreigner Analogy
I mostly agree with the fact that most white people can’t experience racism but that doesn’t mean it always has to apply in every case. Being a tester, I’m drawn to the edge cases. Saying, “white people can’t experience racism”, to make an analogy, is like saying men can’t experience sexism. Now, in the general sense most men probably won’t experience the same levels of systemic disadvantage solely based on their gender as women do. But there are a few cases were men are at a disadvantage; going through the family court system, receiving support for mental health and seeking shorter prison sentences are the main two I can think of. These are systems that unfairly punish men based on something out of their control; their gender. (1)
Say I wanted to migrate to Japan for this example. I’m definitely a foreigner. It’s also a country where it is really hard for foreigners to integrate socially and to obtain Japanese citizenship. Say I wanted to buy a house there, it would be pretty hard without citizenship. You could say it’s almost a systemic disadvantage. Japan is slowly changing but I would likely experience just a little bit of racism trying to integrate there. It wouldn’t be anything like the experiences of some of you experience but having pale pasty skin doesn’t exclude me from experiencing systemic prejudice.
Every month is white history month
We don’t need a white history month because every month is white history month. Stop getting your knickers in a twist because someone wants to celebrate something that doesn’t include you at it’s centre. Let’s all just get behind the huge diverse cultures we come from. If you neighbours wants to do something to celebrate their culture, just be a decent human being and support them in their efforts.
Please call me racist
By pointing out how I contribute and benefit from our racialized society you will help me be a better person and help me in my attempt to change my biases to make our society just a little less sucky. We are all just a little bit racist but I am trying to use my white privilege to talk about hard topics.
(1) Note on references
In trying to find some evidence to support my views in (1). It was harder than I expected. There’s this HuffingtonPost article on dispelling the myth fathers face in the court and this The Telegraph article on how unfair the “success” metric is for Dad’s going through the family court system. I’m of the opinion that there is nothing legally that puts men at a disadvantage but I believe societal influences favor women. I know of anecdotes where the mother has lied, said the husband was abusive and it’s made their battles in being good Dad’s all the much harder. I am acknowledging that I’m considering anecdotal evidence above statistical evidence which is a fallacy/cognitive bias. Do you have better resources than I do? At the end of the day nothing is black and white, it’s all grey.
Not Australia (US), and quite old now (1990), but there was this study (http://amptoons.com/blog/files/Massachusetts_Gender_Bias_Study.htm) on Gender Bias in the Court System in Massachusetts.