Disclaimer: Every instance of "we" means "white people"
White people, we need to stop acting like being called racist is the most offensive thing anyone could do to us. We've all experienced the reaction to it. The sting. The heat in the face. The knot twist in the stomach. The immediate and incredulous, "No, I'm not!"
But this is faux outrage, my peeps. We've been socialized, especially those of us who consider ourselves liberal and progressive (pssst, we're often the worst), to take great offense to this.
Socialization is a hell of a drug, though. It makes us centre whiteness. We centre our hurt feelings from being called racist over the feelings of those who are victimized by racism. But guess whose feelings are legitimately more hurt? Oh, and by the way, there's no such thing as reverse racism. I used to believe in it, but we made that up to protect whiteness, too.
We think because we don't run the streets screaming the n-word we're not racist. We are.
We think we don't see colour. We do.
We don't do people of colour any favours by skipping around saying, "La, la, la, I don't see colour." I don't know when this trend started -- I used to do it myself -- but it's a form of liberal bulldozing. At some point we decided it proved our inclusive non-racism, but we don't get to decide what makes a marginalized person feel included; they decide. I know. It's uncomfortable to let go of those reins. We've been socialized to have a tight grip on them.
We know what colour shirt we put on today. We know when we're speaking to a black person or an Asian person. Pretending we don't is another act in a long list of dismissive behaviour.
We're maybe just starting to get comfortable with acknowledging our white privilege, but we're not yet comfortable acknowledging our complicity in it. It's time to suck it up.
Defensiveness is a habit. Notice when you're feeling the walls of defense come up. It's a choice to raise the fortress up or to wheel those walls back down. Acknowledge the discomfort and sit in it for a bit. Analyze it. Without reacting, listen to really uncomfortable things people of colour have to say about white people. You'll see the myriad ways we oppress, even when our intentions are good (see above re. "I don't see colour"). You'll see everything with a different lens, a better, clearer lens, and you'll consciously work to not be oppressive.
We'll always have blind spots. Release the tendency to take it personally when we get called out on them. Instead, get uncomfortable.
So something I'm uncomfortable with right now is pointing out what people of colour have been pointing out for centuries. They're exhausted by constantly bringing attention to their oppression, only to be ignored, and then to see a white person lauded for speaking out.
For some reason, though, white people listen more to white people. Just like men listen more to men who speak out about sexism. As a woman, I appreciate men who call out other men on their sh*t, but I also feel a lot of frustration for being ignored when I call it out.
We listen more to oppressors than we do the oppressed. We need to unlearn this. There are so many journalists, activists, academics, writers, and laypeople of colour beating loudly on this drum on social media, much more eloquently than I can. It's important to hear their experience in their own words over mine. I urge you to find them, sit and listen to them, learn from them, boost them, and financially support them. They're the ones who started this conversation.
Most importantly, get comfortable with doing the uncomfortable internal work we all need to do.