Waking Up To Racism. The level too which I have not understood or considered racism has quite shocked me this week. There are of course lots of subjects I do not understand much about. Some I ignore because they are not relevant to me. Others – such as recycling – I know enough about to do my bit. At 46 though I have had plenty of opportunities to have more of an opinion about racism.
As many posts have said “it is not enough to not be racist – we have to be anti-racist”. I still do not even know what that means for my current or future actions. Go on a march. Post a social media black out. Do tonight’s podcast. Wait until the next subject comes along and forget about it? I don’t know. I’m quite certain it can’t be the last one this time. I am aware I have not done enough or cared enough up until this point.
It’s uncomfortable. As I prepared for this Expert Hangout I did not feel excited and keen to do it like normal. Will it be awkward? Will I say the right thing? Ask the right question? Will I make it worse? I could have let it stop me. I think that is what we have all done for too long. I needed in some way to make a difference. Even if it was just too myself and my actions.
Now is the time we all need to wake up to racism. This is the defining moment where every person steps up. Up until this moment that has not been me. I still do not know what that really means but my first endeavour was to increase my knowledge. My second was to arrange a live-stream with two black friends and Church leaders.
I needed to wake up to what this subject is really about.
I wouldn’t have said I was racist. What I would have said was “I do see people as different colour but only in the same way that I see people as short or tall. I’m curious about people’s differences. I am offended by agressive behaviour and belligerence regardless of race or gender and I’d like to think that it is not pre-determined by what I see”
But is that enough? What do I think when I see Raheem Sterling make a comment about racism in football? I’m as appalled that someone would shout racist abuse at a player on the pitch as I would be appalled to hear it on the street. However I don’t think I have stopped to consider how deep that issue goes. What was he really saying when he said “enough”?
Why is it a big deal that a footballer has put his career on the line to make a stand against racism? How deep does his motivation to do that go? On reflection I don’t believe I have considered the significance of that action enough. I’m starting to see it as a response to a lifetime of experiences – let alone generations.
I haven’t allow it to make a difference to me on the level it could have.
“A respectful communication. All I want is to be seen and be heard. To have others understand our experiences and our pain so we can find a solution.”
I didn’t want the conversation to be limited by time. If you watch the replay put it on whilst you cook or drive. Allow yourself to be part of the conversation. You may think you have heard some of it before but for the first time I really started to imagine myself in that situation. Imagine my role as a Dad and how it would be different if I was black, for no other reason than my skin colour. I hope it hits home to you as it has done to me.
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. There really is a lot to learn and understand. The other night I watched “13th” on Netflx. I was startled. As much for the content as for the fact that I knew nothing about it. Do I know the split of prison inmates in the UK by race? No. It is not a question I think to ask. But when I do I find that 25% of the Britain’s prison population is black when in the general community it is just 14%.
What does that mean to black communities? What does that say about education and wealth distribution? How many families are growing up without a father figure? What is the impact on those children’s future?
I’m starting to see it is not just about the now. It is generational. And that is part of the problem. It is all very well for me to think racism is out of order but when it stops at “well, I’m not racist, so that’s ok” then I have failed to take any responsibility.
I, as a white middle class man, from South East England really have no idea what the average black family has experienced. It is that – as was explained to me the other day – that is my white privilege. I can be appalled (or whatever someone chooses to feel) but because I am not black I have the privilege to not have to do anything else. I am not the one who faces racist abuse in the street or gets looked over for a promotion or ignored at the bar whilst ordering a drink. I am privileged to not have to be affected or do anything. It took a black lady to explain to me what white privilege really means.
Think about it. What would be like to wake up to it everyday?
In the livestream replay you can see the Team Super Dad Expert Hangout I did with Errol Lawson and Tony Ashley. Two pastors, leaders in the community and quite obviously black men.
As I said above I was rather apprehensive ahead of the conversation. It was not that I didn’t want the conversation, nor that I did not know either Errol or Tony – we have been friends for years. I just had never asked these questions before. And that is the bottom line. We have to have these conversations. It is now very evident that without a new level of understanding we can’t possibly create a new future.
I urge everyone to increase their knowledge. Arrange a conversation like this. Do something in your community. Make sure your children understand. And if the need to stand shoulder to shoulder with people of every colour and race comes around, then be the person that makes a stand – or takes a knee – in support. But for history there is no reason why this has to be this way. We are just all human beings.
Here are some links I have been shared that you could take a look at: