Bashing other white people doesn’t make you better
By Roshni Riar, Staff Writer
“White people are the worst, I swear.”
If you think of yourself as a progressive, informed individual, there’s a possibility you may have heard, thought, or uttered the above statement at one point or another—whether you’re a person of colour or not.
That’s okay, I understand if you’ve felt that way—I know that I definitely have on more than one occasion—but I think it’s important for white people in particular to understand that verbally tearing down other white people isn’t enough in the way of support for people of colour. There’s a huge difference between recognizing harmful behaviours and simply calling things out in an attempt to “cancel” somebody. That difference is essentially action versus inaction.
There isn’t anything particularly productive about elbowing your friends of colour and sighing, “White people, right?” If you’re white yourself, you’re still protected and veiled by the privilege that you are calling out. It’s great that you can recognize inappropriate behaviour and address the fact that white privilege may have something to do with said behaviour, but that same white privilege allows you to feel free to call things out without genuinely feeling or understanding the implications.
If you want to be an ally and truly understand why something might be offensive, the most important thing to do is to listen to the people of colour who are trying to explain what’s unacceptable to you. Listening might not feel like an active stand against racism, but it really is. It allows you to be all the more informed in your fight against discrimination.
Flying off the handle in an attempt to look supportive—such as exclaiming how awful white people are and how ashamed you are to be one of them—makes it harder for someone like me to have an informative conversation with you. Furthermore, you might think that saying those kinds of things is what a person of colour wants to hear, but it could put a person of colour into an even more harmful situation if someone with a negative bias overhears your conversation. While you’re protected by the colour of your skin when you speak your mind, someone like me is automatically viewed as stereotypically hateful and resistant to accept the Western society that I “chose” to be a part of. For bigots and racists, it doesn’t matter who in a group holds which opinion; if they sense hostility then they will justify any further discrimination using that.
Instead of trying to one-up other white people to prove that because you recognize their shitty ways, you are therefore better than them, I think listening and taking in opinions and experiences of people who have truly felt racism is the first step toward being a supportive ally. Action, such as supporting your friends of colour and attending educational talks and marches, staying informed, and allowing people to check your hostility when it isn’t necessary—these are much more important than calling someone “another backwards, uninformed white person.”
If someone has enough conviction to be racist or discriminatory in any way, then they probably don’t care that you’re calling them out. Save your words and insults for when they really matter, like when your friends need them during a protest or in a time of despair.