So I don’t have pink eye, which is good, because I’m reading some really interesting things these days. I’ve already come up with half a dozen new courses that I hope to teach at my new job, and am excited about broadening my field (Black Studies to Ethnic Studies). At a previous job, when I pointed out a disturbing instance of white privilege among my students, I was (of course) asked if I could teach a course on the subject. I refused and resented being asked to take responsibility for “white people behaving badly.” I generally feel like it’s up to white people to teach their brothers and sisters how to act right, even though I’m interested in Whiteness Studies and teach select texts in my classes. And I’m always heartened by white people who make a point of addressing their own privilege and opening the eyes of others. I’m finding more and more bloggers who are speaking out against white privilege, and most appreciate those who invite me to write a guest post but ALSO address the issue themselves on a regular basis (rather than saying, “Here’s a PoC you should listen to, and now back to our regularly scheduled programming.”)
This morning artist Suzanne Broughel posted a note on Facebook that was written by Gail K. Golden, “White Privilege as an Addiction.” Golden argues that like any addict, whites need to seek treatment for their addiction and can start by charting a path to recovery as is done by members of Alcoholics Anonymous:
AA has steps to recovery. I am suggesting that those of us who are called white need to think seriously about overcoming our addictive relationship to power, dominance and privilege and am suggesting our own twelve steps in a lifetime of recovery work:
1 We admitted we were powerless over our socialization into a racist society.
2. We came to understand that working to undo racism could restore us to sanity.
3. We came to understand that we could not do this work alone and made a decision to accept leadership from people of color.
4. We make an honest inventory of how we participate in racist policies and practices.
5. We begin to address these wrongs by learning and teaching accurate history.
6. We pledge to educate ourselves and organize to undo racism, always remaining accountable to people of color.
7. We recognize that this is a lifelong process. It is a way of life that must be guided by Undoing Racism Principles.
8. We commit to learn how internalized racial superiority has distorted our thoughts and assumptions, and work to clarify our thinking.
9. As white people, we have been oblivious to the racism in our families, schools, offices, faith communities and we seek to address such wrongs wherever possible. If we are gatekeepers, (i.e. control access to resources), we will work to allocate these resources more equitably. [my emphasis]
10. We agree to learn to celebrate our own culture so we do not exploit the culture of other peoples.
11 We will seek to learn how racism was created so we can improve our conscious awareness of the sometimes invisible arrangement that perpetuates racism.
12 We commit to carrying our antiracist message to other white people.
You definitely want to read this entire article; this is one of many observations on white supremacy that I’d love to see remedied: “We tend to argue with people of color about THEIR experience. The idea that we know better is one of the ultimate expressions of the exaggerated sense of rightness.” You might also be interested in Doret’s interview with Stacy Whitman, editor of Tu Books, over at The Happy Nappy Bookseller. Doret asks, “How does an editor edit cross-culturally?” and “Has Tu been doing anything to encourage authors of color to submit their work?” Because it’s possible to promote diversity without achieving equity…