I wrote this in a Facebook thread, in response to the question “How many of you will happily admit that you are racist?”
I have no problems saying I am an intellectual, a liberal, a feminist, an American — why should I have any problem saying I am a racist? All that it means is that I grew up in a society with racist institutions and assumptions built up over time, and have absorbed some of that before I ever thought to critique it.
I grew up assuming that what I was told about gay people was true, and only began to critically examine that after I met so many gay people that the stereotype shattered. I don’t beat myself up over having been heterosexist, because that would be a self-centered waste of time. I spend the energy on campaigning for equal rights and trying to educate others who grew up with the same assumptions I did.
I marched for civil rights, beside my mother, in the 60s. I thought we won. I went through a period of homelessness in the 90s and saw racism still active, on the streets of Seattle, in how the black man next to me was treated differently by police, by security guards, by clerks. I am not beating myself up over the decades I was blind to this. I spend the energy working to change it.
I don’t spend any energy whatsoever getting upset over being told I have white privilege, or that I’m racist. I don’t spend any energy getting upset over being told I am near-sighted, either; I just get glasses. I accept reality and then do something about it.
- Project Implicit: Research & self-test on implicit bias, the prejudices you don’t know you have
- Blind Spot: Hidden Biases of Good People (book)
- What Is Racism?
- Prejudice, Discrimination, and Stereotyping
Please add a comment if you have an resources to recommend!