Race linked to White and Non-White skin colour is an invention founded in exploitation and slavery in Europe and its colonies over centuries.  Empire and capitalism created divisions to justify and facilitate the extraction of value from people through actual and economic violence.  Alongside this is a history of shared humanity and resistance to these divisions.

White is a fluid concept.  To make our lives and our children’s lives more secure, we acquire camouflage to mimic or blend in with privileged people.  There is more to this than skin tone, but colour is a key marker.  So, like many others, three generations of my ancestors progressively shed their poor Polish Jewish identity to redefine what it is to be White so that it included them, claiming the trappings of being middle class and privileged.  That must have been hard, but their skin was pale and no visible tag of that journey remains in me.

Being White, I need not think about race.  I can say: I do not have a race; race is a problem for other people, race is a problem for the people we group together as Black and Minority Ethnicity, race is their problem.

As a White social liberal I can say: I treat everyone the same regardless of skin colour and expect the same back; racism is a problem for people being abusive on public transport, or the deplorable Leavers or MAGAs and their antidiluvian attitudes; racism is not my problem; racism is a problem between racists and Black and Minority Ethnicity people.

If you challenge me on this, I can be defensive: I can say I did not choose my skin colour, did not enslave anyone, did not kneel on his neck nor fire those guns.

History is dynamic. We do not make what came before us, but we selectively mythologise historical events to build our culture and identity, continually making and remaking our society.  We choose what we see and what we ignore.  Privilege means we choose many things in our daily lives that reduce or perpetuate division and exploitation.  Being White and privileged, we determine what we expect of our public servants, the politicians, the unelected officials, the police, the teachers.  We are small fish swept along in the shoal, but we are also actors.  We make choices that influence the direction of the crowd.  So in this way, White supremacy is both perpetuated and undermined.

White supremacy is a problem for White people: so it is my problem to solve and if also you are White, then also it is your problem to solve.  When we duck the challenge, we support White supremacy.

When we own and oppose White supremacy, we have to actively see what had been invisible to us, seek out the history of empire censored from the curriculum and the news, give way and listen and promote the voices of those who are White supremacy’s most immediate victims, protest, bravely challenge not just the racists but our liberal friends, donate also if we can, make changes through wise and courageous voting.

There are many links.   Here are some, for which there is an opportunity to donate.  I have included speeches of the many that moved me.

Black Lives Matter

Minnesota Freedom Fund

The Stephen Lawrence Trust

Anti-racism book list

Rapper Killer Mike speaks: “it is time to fortify our own house .. plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize”  Note the police chief in the background: she went among the crowds of protesters and listened.

Tamika Mallory speaks “Don’t talk to me about looting. You are the looters”.

General CQ Brown speaks “I am thinking about our two sons and how we had to prepare them to live in two worlds”

8 responses to “Fragments

  1. ….so thoughtfully and incisively said–thank you for illuminating more of what is becoming increasingly and intentionally dark . Your art adds visually to the dynamics at play–revealing, yet hidden, exposed, yet scarred.

  2. The key to understanding just what whiteness does for you is to try to imagine the words and actions of Donald Trump or George Bush or any Fox News host (you can make a very long list here) coming from a black man. Black people are not allowed to be awful or ignorant or just plain wrong; they are not even allowed to be mediocre. No one will ever excuse them being less than perfect. And even then their humanity is suspect.
    White boys commit the same crimes as black boys do. They are boorish and uncivilized in the same ways. But they go to Harvard Law School instead of prison.
    Collage is just right here. (K)

  3. You have illustrated this division in colour throughout our society with well thought out imagery and words. We all need to take responsibility for our own actions to ensure that we act with friendship and generosity to those whose skin doesn’t mirror our own. And let’s learn about their cultures for a change. I’m rather tired of the ignorance which abounds in the one I’m linked to.

  4. I like the image in which the shards are bunched together and look like a discarded newspaper… the notion of ‘gutter press’ springs to mind.

    As for the verbal ideas that constitute the rest of this post, well, for me, the notions are just way too complex for any sort of rational discussion, (it being such a difficult thing in practise,) and invariably, because there are so many contradictory views and misunderstanding between men, it seems that heated argument and violence occur.

    All I know is this: as an individual, when I encounter someone of a different colour from me I do not regard him as somehow inferior or alien, in fact, in face to face situations I really don’t notice the colour of his skin, only his facial and bodily expressions. If he looks at me kindly and smiles then I do the same and vice versa.

    As for the tribe of policemen, well, put a uniform on a man, most noticeably riot gear, and it seems you change his personality for the worse.

    As for slavery, it is probably the one most deeply embedded in the human psyche
    and certainly the most ancient of all institutions. I have a book somewhere on my shelves in which the author informs the reader that the first masters were fathers, their families their slaves.

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