Im working on developing a new workshop on race that I hope will address partially the ways racism tries to hide itself inside the
new liberal white person. Its always interesting to me how work that is done in the Black community becomes co-opted into the discourse of whiteness and then becomes meaningless. Like “diversity”, “political correctness” and most recently, “anti-racist”. I got into this great discussion with Chris over at Race has nothing to do with you and our other friend, Jordan – about why the term “ally” and the term “anti-racist” have now become problematic. As Jordan put it, “I’m ‘pro-life’ for sure, but I’m sure as hell not puttin that button on my backpack. ” What he means here of course is that he is against war, death and destruction – and for the right of women to choose, so the meaning of ‘pro-life’ becomes lost, co-opted by conservatives and useless to us.
Discussion point – I’m really interested in what your definition of “anti-racist” is. Can we chat about this for a bit?
My colleague and friend Kamau Bell in his new show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve – talks about this
new phenomenon of white celebrities coming out the mouth with racism, and then (semi)apologizing for it, before they walk outside and do it again. Bell questions how is that white liberals who claim to be ‘our friends’, think that simply because they say, “I’m not racist”. This phrase, along with “Ive got tons of black friends” is a shield to hide the lack of internal work on how race functions in their lives. When we remain in denial, there is no way we can understand how we impact other people when we continue to stress that we didnt ‘intend’ it to be that way. “I didnt mean it THAT way”.
This SNL skit by Queen Latifah actually does some great work in terms of vocalizing daily stress of this kind of denial in the workplace.