Whiteness as an act of cultural dominance
“White people embarrass me” – A personal reflection on racism and white privilege in Britain amongst the LGBTIQ community by Del LaGrace Volcano. The problem is not just white privilege – its refusing to acknowledge it when challenged.
White people embarrass me. Probably not quite as much as I embarrass myself but then again, I’m white people too.
White people embarrass me because so many of us think that to be ‘colour blind’ is a good thing. I understand the dynamics at work in this logic but I want to suggest another way of looking at this concept.
To be ‘colour blind’ doesn’t mean you don’t discriminate on the basis of colour or don’t enjoy the privileges that being white affords you. It simply means you don’t notice how whiteness operates in our culture.
It’s a way of ignoring the structural racism that permeates every aspect of our white lives but that we mostly ignore because we don’t think it affects us.
White people in my family embarrass me. Like my favourite aunt, who I had never heard utter a racist word until her bi-racial grandson was born and she described his beauty to me in terms of the lightness of his skin and lack of African features. I was horrified and my relationship with her hasn’t been the same since.
My mother taught me about civil rights and that people like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and Angela Davis really mattered and why. But in the last years of her life, as she lay dying of lung disease she would make ‘off-colour’ racist jokes about being the head “N” in her house; maybe to provoke me, maybe to get back some of the power she was losing, day by day. Continue reading here