I was standing at the train station the other week waiting for a bus when out jumps this woman from a cab. Nothing unusual about that but then I noticed she wasn’t wearing a bra and what is usually concealed from the eyes was no longer. She was wearing a t-shirt but if I say it was a light colour you will understand what I mean.
I am surprised that image has stayed with me perhaps such images do when you are in a state of singleness. So why am I writing about it here? I suppose it is a way of talking about an aspect of myself that is ever-present but rarely spoken.
It probably makes us more human than any other aspect of us yet we usually conceal it.
In the story of Adam and Eve as told in Genesis it tells us that when they took of the forbidden fruit they became aware of their nakedness and made attempts to cover themselves with fig leaves. I guess we have been attempting to hide ever since, at least most of us.
Who’s to know that if they had waited God may have said, “Now is the time to eat of the Tree of Good and Evil.”
We know that he certainly did not want them eating of the Tree of Life so before they could he banished them from the garden. Yet in time the Tree of Life was to be re-presented.
Adam and Eve had not changed in the physical but they had changed in their knowledge. It was the knowledge that made the same thing good also evil. Abuse is usually the wrong use of something. Alcohol is ok of itself but if abused it can become lethal. Relationships are good and essential but when one party abuses the trust created they are not ok.
Perhaps it is not only the sexual dimension of our lives that we seek to hide at least publicly?
I turned the other day back to Reni Eddo -Lodge’s, ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’. I note that the publishers as a marketing technique have hidden the word ‘To White People’.
I am struggling with how to go from talking about dismantling racism to living in a way that dismantles it. In pages 66 to 72, she outlines the life of a black male from the first day of school right through to old age and in so doing she shows the institutional racism he will face. It is awful to read and I am a white male. It made me realise that no matter how much I try to hide my nakedness beneath these clothes I am naked. In the same way that no matter how much I try to hide my racism I am racist.
That is quite a statement, “ I am racist”.
Eddo-Lodge writes about ‘SATS’. SATs in the UK are Standard Assessment Tests of primary school children (age 4 to 11)
“At the age of eleven, when he is preparing to take SATs, research indicates that he will be systematically marked down by his own teachers — a phenomenon that is remedied when examiners who don’t teach at the school mark his exam papers.”
This assertion is based on the research of Simon Burgess and Ellen Greaves, September 2009
There was something about that piece of information that made me see something I hadn’t before, that white people (and I am one) whether they realise it or not are racist. Yes, some are happy to broadcast it but most recoil with the idea that they could be racist, I do. Yet research as above and there is much more indicates that white people (could say all but let’s say most) have an unconscious bias against black people but particularly black males.
So even if we are generous the research is saying that white people who would probably abhor the idea of being racist are racist. We so don’t want to be that we can’t contemplate the idea that we are endemically racist. The difficulty is if we can’t see that we are we will keep on being.
Perhaps the change will come when we acknowledge that we are our products of our ancestors and for most white people that means we have been born into a culture that has been historically racist and continues to transmit the vestiges of it.