I first got involved in issues around the politics of race back in the late 70s when I was a teenager. Back then we were faced with a number of stark choices about how to fit in.
I wasn’t especially informed but choices had to be made. Choosing football teams, musical genres and orientation towards or away from skin colour felt compulsory. So Rock against Racism and Anti Nazi League badges joined the Chelsea scarf and the Led Zeppelin, Genesis and Pink Floyd albums in defining me as a teenager. It wasn’t until Sandinista that I really got into The Clash and worked my way back through time into punk…
Those early choices have stayed with me. It might have been so very easy for me to choose differently because they were not especially well informed by inquiries into morality, ethics and human rights. They more informed by my own survival instincts…
I can see now having that choice was an example of white privilege.
My current development around the issue of racial justice is to work through Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad. The title alone grabbed me gently by the throat. No weasel words of inclusion and diversity – but a very direct naming of a power dynamic.
The book offers, after a short introduction, 28 prompts for reflection through a brief introduction to some key concepts and then some questions that invite you to reflect personally on how the concept has played out in your life as a white person. The book is written for white people.
I decided that I would journal some of my reflections for several reasons:
- it would create some sort of accountability – I won’t do something every day – but I will work my way through the book
- it will make me externalise my thinking. Writing stuff down allows me to re-visit, re-think and explore further – and sometimes see, with hindsight, how shallow my thinking can sometimes be. How it can lack awareness. Indeed as I write this my mind is racing around in circles – is this an honest attempt at reflection and learning?
- Layla F Saad recommends journalling as a way through the book
- Working out loud, usually helps, for me at least – it gets the chance for feedback, guidance and fresh ideas to be offered
So over the next few weeks and months as I work through the book I will be as open and honest as I can in sharing reflections. I am sure that some days they might be pretty shallow and rushed – but I can always go back and develop further.
I am also worried about language. Im sure it will be clumsy, perhaps at times ignorant as I try to find the right words to express reflections and partly formed thoughts. If they ever trigger offence, anger or any other emotion or though tin you please do find a way to let me know. You can use the comments on a post or through the contact form
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