To deny our racism stops us from dealing with it

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.

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Gordie Jackson

Gordie Jackson

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.