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There is a difference between being anti-racist and just someone not wanting to be seen as racist.
In fact, someone who is anti-racist is much more likely to be able to see why they themselves are racist, have been socialised to be inherently racist and live in racist framework
This inherent racist framework we all operate within is known as ‘whiteness’ in critical race theory. It doesn’t mean all white people are racist or bad. It means our system is designed to favour white people and disadvantages PoC as the de facto setting unless we challenge that
Here’s the thing that seems to be blowing people’s minds - you don’t have to be white to be racist against Black and brown people. You can be a PoC and uphold a racist system, policies, which acts against PoC. Let me explain with an often easier to grasp example...
Let’s take sexism. Through history, we have convinced ourselves and the world that women are not equal to men for a variety of reasons. They were not given rights to many things, either through socially acceptable rules or through law and had to fight to get these things
Women weren’t allowed to work outside the home, wear trousers, vote, were seen as men’s property, and still today, despite great leaps forward women still don’t get access to top jobs and will not be paid the same for doing the same work as a man. Society is still sexist.
We accept this as sexism. And we can accept that, despite advances, we live in a sexist society. A society, which still has a legacy of advantaging men over women. Through law, policy and hidden expectations, overt and subtle language and so on
Now here’s the comparison with anti-racism and racism. Just because I am a woman, doesn’t mean I don’t occupy a sexist society. And as a woman, I am not automatically a feminist, pro women or act in ways which seek to liberate my oppressed sisters.
Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I see that society is sexist, or have learned about feminist discourse in a way that would enable me to see that as a woman, I work in ways that are sexist, hold back my sisters, perpetuate sexism.
To be anti-sexist, the first step is to learn about the systems by which women are socially constructed as inferior to men and the ways in which they are held back, discriminated against, stopped from occupying spaces which are reserved men
We seem to find it easier to say, ‘of course we should dismantle sexist inherent bias’ - equal pay, equal access to work, regard women as equally capable. Then we look at who our CEOs are and compare salaries and say oh, wait, how did that happen? I’m not sexist but...
You may think you are free of sexism but the systems we live in, and the way the world, the workplace, our own homes are constructed say otherwise. Women still do most of the housework even in homes where both work, are educated and see themselves as anti-sexist.
So, just because I am a woman, doesn’t mean I don’t uphold a sexist society, which discriminates against women in its policies, laws, language and actions.
And just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I come with a feminist manual uploaded to my brain.
As a woman I may be more likely to make it my business to learn about feminism and try to deconstruct anti-feminist constructs in my life, work, in society, but equally I may not. I may even adopt sexist discourse for my own personal gain.
And I may be doing this without realising it. I might find myself on a headteacher interview panel favouring the male candidate because they are more assertive and fit my inherently biased view of what a leader should look and sound like.
I might be working collaboratively with a group of people and dismiss my female colleague’s assertive words as her “just being emotional” because I know she has some other shit going down in her life and I attribute this as anger in the workplace and as emotional weakness
If you understand sexism you can get ‘whiteness’ and the concept of upholding a racist structure or a white supremacist ideology. An ideology where we see white people as superior - more competent, more worthy of being power holders, and PoC as inherently flawed by comparison.
If you understand this, you can understand that you can be a good person and still uphold sexist and racist ideology.
If you are anti-sexist and anti-racist you will be looking out for the signs in your workplace, society and self where racism and sexism lurk.
If you are anti- racist you will be of course mortified if you do things that are upholding the racist ideology but you won’t be surprised because it’s insidious, pervasive and baked in at every level.
Rant over [paused]
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