Some of my best friends are white…

February 23, 2011 § 4 Comments

In Australia, I have so many friends, awesome in many ways but I’d be without MOST of them if I distanced myself from those that had done just one of the following:

– exoticised the skin tone and background of myself / other people of colour to my face
– appropriated the styles and forms of expression and rebellion of ‘other’ cultures (of people of colour) for their own creative self-expression and/or radical credibility (without acknowledgment of the privilege they are enacting to do so)
– called me ‘paranoid’ when I’ve expressed my concerns of being treated suspiciously/differently because of my race/skin tone.
– never initiated an observation/conversation about racism nor called out peers for racism such as the above
– not acknowledged the above things as racism.

If I chose to only hang around with people with good racial politics, the friends I would have that weren’t people of colour themselves would fit around my small kitchen table.

I choose not to isolate from my broad range of friends because I want to believe that people share more humanity than our differences and that racist ignorance can change through conversation, self-education and experience with consciousness. The responsibility for change should not have to be in the hands of people of colour. The effort should be coming from all non-people-of -colour, non-Indigenous Australians to bring about an awareness of white privilege.

The focus of my energy has to be in constructing my own positive identity and presence in the world as a person of colour. I am open to conversation but meanwhile talk amongst yourselves please.

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§ 4 Responses to Some of my best friends are white…

  • c says:

    oops wrong spot!

    harshbrowns, you BAMF.

  • Yeah, Baby. Thank you for the incisive writing. Proud of you! Love and Misses from Brooklyn. XO!

  • madam worm says:

    I am a tallish white guy who has learnt to talk and behave not in the way of my low socio birth town but as someone with some education, and I only occasionally now leak odd personality traits.

    I am very aware of this and I use it. I know I can stand in front of a crowd and talk and I don’t have to prove myself too much. I can be relaxed. People tend to treat me as an expert. I do my homework, but the expectations I have on me gives me confidence to go on, push harder, learn more. It’s a feedback loop.

    If I was darker, female, queer, less well spoken, disabled, strange looking, even shorter — any of these things — I know the subtly (or not so subtly) lowered or changed expectations I would face might provide the opposite kind of feedbacks. When I said something dumb it might confirm to myself and the audience, what we’d all expected, rather than being a temporary glitch. I’d potentially dwell on my mistakes, lose confidence, lose humour, maybe ultimately give up a lot of things.

    I don’t really know what to do with this information except not be the guy that has lowered expectations on anyone less privileged, and tend in fact to assume the opposite, that someone without them has usually worked harder for what they’ve got to say.

  • claudia says:

    Yes. Racism in Australia can be overt and brutal. It can be part of Government policy – still today in 2011. That’s disturbing enough but it also weaves into conversations with people who don’t even realise they are being racist and would be horrified to have it pointed out to them. That’s a major awareness-deficit that needs fixing.
    Thanks for your writing.

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