Dear person of whiteness

March 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

My experiences in Melbourne over the last few months have underlined for me the absence of considered racial politics and the lack of acknowledgment of privilege by many of my peers in supposedly radical communities. I wrote and performed the following piece for POC the MIC II a few weeks ago, a (personally inspiring) night of spoken word and performance by people of colour.

Dear person of whiteness

Would you like me to share my experiences with you?

If I choose to
Treat you with suspicion;
Deny you the respect you assume you deserve;
Deny you the benefit, of the doubt, of my trust;
Never rank your esteem too highly:

Would this be sharing my experience?

I wish I could.
But it’s only going to be a sip of what I swallow everyday.

You may have tasted similar experiences before
For your
Gender identity
Body size
Mental illness
Manners of speech
or other elements we may not have had choice in and that I haven’t imagined here

And my life has taught me empathy that I do offer
But you’ll never share my experience

Being a person of colour isn’t
A tattoo I inked onto on my body
A political patch I sewed onto my clothes
An outrageous outfit I selected
A behaviour that the authorities don’t approve of
A lifestyle my parents frown upon

You may have chosen some of these things
And good for you to try to feel empowered
Express yourself against a system that seeks to oppress us all.

But just because you’ve chosen these ‘struggles’ doesn’t make you
my ally
nor a revolutionary.

It doesn’t discount the white privilege you were born into even if you seemingly wish to deny it.


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