Kate (kate_nepveu) wrote,
Kate
kate_nepveu

IBARW: After a Year of Racism Discussions

I realized that I wanted to participate more in International Blog Against Racism Week this year a few months ago, when I happened to look at my introductory post from last year.

Here's what I said then about this icon:

I read the Lorde poem as saying two things. First, other people's attitudes toward and treatment of you (racism, sexism, child abuse, what-have-you) can distort your image of yourself. Stereotyping is a failure of empathy, a refusal to see someone as themselves; and while the stereotype isn't necessarily transmitted, not being seen as yourself is corrosive. Second, the response ought to be recognize that the source of the distortion is external and then work to change that.

Granted, that the step before the "and then" is not necessarily trivial. Because my experiences with racism have been transitory, I don't have any useful personal experience to offer. My only suggestion at the moment for how to go about that to be educate one's self about racism (or sexism, or child abuse, or what-have-you), and then take a hard look at any overlaps between that and one's self-image.

Notice what's missing? I didn't, until recently. What's missing is any acknowledgment that the hand to be stopped could be external. In fact, I limited my comments to self-directed racism, which is real but so much less of a problem than institutional racism.

That's the journey I've made over the last year of reading about, and occassionally discussing, racism. Then, I was just starting to understand the way it affects me specifically and society generally. Now, I can see blind spots of my past self—I don't say the blind spots, because I'm sure there are still more—and one of those was this unconscious instinct to duck the issue as much as possible, to focus exclusively inward, and to avoid conflict.

I'm trying not to apologize for my past self, because I think most people's understandings of racism can and should evolve, and saying "OMG I was so stupid!1!eleventy-one!" strikes me as likely to impede other people who are starting in a similar place. But I want to acknowledge that I'm both still learning and still trying to learn. More, I want to suggest that this is a good way to start International Blog Against Racism Week, wherever you are in understanding and fighting racism.

Tags: international blog against racism week, race
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