Note: My previous post was inspired by an article called “I don’t know what to do with good white people” by Brit Bennett, a black woman writer. The following is a response to a conversation I had with a friend, a white man, about that post (and more generally, calling out white privilege).
“The purpose of calling out your white privilege.”
The purpose of calling attention to white privilege is NOT to draw a line (further) separating whites and non-whites, so YOU can “figure out” what DO, or where you FIT, or how to ACT (see previous post). The purpose of calling attention to white privilege is to acknowledge an EXISTING condition (systemic racism), so you can LISTEN to the TRUTH from a better position. The truth is easier to accept when we’re closer to it, open to it, and facing it. If we turn away from the story of Black Lives exposing their truth, we will become susceptible to the lies of colonialist capitalism. Alternately, if we face historical reality DIRECTLY, the pain of existence will lighten, and we’ll open our minds to a more loving human experience.
I believe it’s the same for radical feminism and other equality-based justice. Unlike unending profit derived from the destruction of people and the planet, human rights are not just an idea someone had. The damage caused by capitalism is real, but the basis for it isn’t. Similarly, racism is fundamentally an idea. But the DAMAGE caused by that idea is 100% REAL. That’s in part why people can say “I believe in nondiscrimination” in the same breath as “but we shouldn’t hire certain ‘unqualified’ people” (etc.). Until you acknowledge discrimination ALREADY EXISTS, you won’t understand the reality of equality, but only the idea.
Setting qualifications is a legitimate way to survive in a capitalist society, but we need to remember that in addition to existing discrimination (based on wrong perceptions), the goal of our “work” is not simply to “provide” the resources others need to survive (or on the other side of the coin, to “attain” what is provided). Survival is in us all, we don’t need to work for it like capitalism would have us believe. It’s a dichotomy, wherein we’re tasked with “providing” and “attaining”, while simultaneously profiting and surviving. That’s why there’s no such thing as “trickle-down-economics”: the so-called provider, rich as they might be, is being tasked with “survival” by the economic-political system, making autonomy impossible. It’s the reason people can say “I believe in equality”, while simultaneously being racist. It’s the reason money can’t buy happiness.
I believe in our hearts we KNOW all humans are equal, but the social laws of colonialist capitalism hinder our progress to be truly empathetic. They have made us think our reality is “survival-based-success”, which isn’t Reality at all, it’s a construct. In order to succeed accordingly, we default to making it personal. Personal reality feeds the ego. This is different than being autonomous, which means living our individual Truths free from external control. Being egocentric and basing success on capitalist ideas is destructive to the individual, the environment and humanity.
We need to discover what oppresses us (individually, culturally and collectively). Then, (eventually) we can reject the thoughts and objects that bind us.
That’s why I believe we HAVE TO call attention to our differences, our individual struggles and Truths. The point is not to divide us, but to uncover the PURPOSE of our Lives. Which is to matter. And be free.