July 19th, 2006



It seems that lots of people round these parts are "blogging against racism". I'm really not sure whether I should participate, and here's why.

I should post something because I am against racism. Well, obviously; even BNP spokesmen sometimes claim to be against racism these days. I don't see much merit in giving myself a pat on the back: look at me, I'm such a good person, I posted to LJ saying Racisim is BAD!.

I should post something because I've been reading quite a lot of interesting and thought-provoking stuff because of the meme and other discussions about racism going on in the blogosphere more generally. But one thing I'm picking up very strongly is that a lot of people seem to want white people to "shut up and listen" and not try to take over the discussion. Well, I'm quite happy to shut up and listen, especially in the blog context because lurking when there are interesting discussions to read is a lot more rewarding than being in a conversation where I'm not allowed to speak.

The trouble is that if I don't post that I am against racism, I could be seen as tacitly supporting it, or not making sufficient effort to combat racism. I've seen just as many complaints about white people being unfairly privileged because they don't have to think about racism if they don't want to, or perpetuating racism by not speaking against it, as I have about white people invading the discussion and making it hard for the victims of racism to be heard.

The side-issue to this is whether I am one of the "white people" intended by the rhetoric from either side. I feel odd defining myself as "white", but clearly I have no skin pigmentation at all so I can hardly be anything else. I want to say "non-black", by analogy to the expression "non-white", but that would probably end up offending people. Navel-gazing about what my racial identity is is definitely not the point though. I think part of the problem is that the "racism" in "Blog against racism week" is sometimes being used specifically to mean racism against African-Americans, namely people with dark skin who live in the USA. Obviously, I have absolutely nothing to contribute to any discussion about the experiences of African-Americans. But I'm also not "white" in this context because I'm not a light skinned, WASPy American either! So on that level the whole discussion has nothing to do with me, except that, well, racism is happening and I would like to stop it, which is too obvious to be worth stating.

Oh, and I don't understand Theory. I don't understand gender theory or queer theory despite being gay and female, so I have even less clue about race theory. I can't use the jargon convincingly, I don't understand the ways of arguing that seem to come from Theory-based assumptions. Because the area is emotionally charged, this blind spot means that almost anything I say is likely to offend people. (By the way, if you are already offended by this non-post, please do tell me so.) It's probably better to say nothing at all than to speak against racism in the wrong way and come across as racist. Of course, perhaps the reason I don't understand theory is that I am in fact racist, however much I try not to be. I really hope that any friend who hears me saying something racist or with the potential for racist effects will point out my error to me.

So. I am very much against racism, but I don't think blogging the fact that I am against racism is going to do the cause any good.
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