Proximity to POC doesn’t make your exempt from racism.
Something we hear a lot when we talk about racism is “But my child/niece/nephew/spouse/best friend/cousin/etc isn’t white, I’m not racist”
But the hard truth is - proximity to us, doesn’t absolve you of the societal racism you were brought up with. And in fact often, proximity to us can allow that racism to develop unchecked because you think how could any of your behaviours be a problem, you love a black/brown person?
Well, let’s take a look shall we.
I have a cousin who is mixed race black and her mother still says “p*ki shop”. Offensive racial slurs? Racist.
I am also mixed race black and have an uncle who when asked if he’d said something problematic, went full gaslight mode and told me I was in the wrong for even considering asking him that. Speaking over poc on racism and making yourself the victim? Racist.
I’ve also told that same uncle of the increased racism I faced after the brexit vote and how it made me hate living in the UK because it was crystal clear the country didn’t welcome me. He said he voted for it, I asked would he do it again knowing how it impacted me and people like me and he said yes. Refusing to acknowledge the hand you had in the suffering of people of colour, and admitting you’d contribute to that suffering again? Racist.
I’ve constantly been told by my family that I “make everything about race” and that my tone when I talk about it is “aggressive”. Tone policing and throwing in the “angry black woman” stereotype because it makes you uncomfortable to face the trauma someone else lives daily? Racist.
I have a friend who is mixed race black and her white family call her “radical” and “offensive” for calling them out on harmful behaviours. Who say they don’t need to be told about racism by someone younger than them. Disregarding people of colour’s experiences and thinking you know better despite being white? Racist.
I was referred to by people I thought were friends as “The Black One”. Dehumanising people of colour? Racist.
I knew someone who told me she was proud of herself for swiping right on a black man on a dating app because “usually you can’t see their features”. I don’t even have to explain why or how this one is racist.
I am lucky - most of my family have recently begun this journey to listening and learning and understanding, but for many they don’t get that support from loved ones, let alone the outside world. It does not matter who your friends are. It does not matter who your family are. If you are a white person raised in the West, taught in their education system, raised on their traditions and ideals - you have unconscious or conscious racism and racist behaviours to rid yourself of. Stop hiding behind us as a reason you don’t have to look at yourself. If anything you’re the ones who have to do it most, because your ignorance is hurting people you claim to love.