In the UK (and the US) straight white men occupy the highest levels of privilege reflected in job opportunities, media representation and how we are viewed in the eyes of the law. It’s difficult to say with any accuracy but over the last few days my social media bubble has been full of white female and queer voices declaring themselves as anti-racist but there have been relatively few white male voices in the mix.
Racism isn’t a problem with people of colour. It’s a problem with white people and colonial legacies. Sexisim isn’t a problem with women and non-binary people. It’s a problem with (mainly) cis men. Homophobia isn’t a problem with gay people it’s a problem with homophobes. If society is to overcome these issues then white men need to be engaging in the same discourse as women and people of colour and not just “leave them to it.”
Social media is a space in which all people can have an equal voice, no matter what demographic they fit into their message has the same chance to reach a wide audience. This leads me to view social media as a kind of room where racism is being discussed. Those affected should speak first about their experiences and offer solutions and then my duty is to be educated and back up those ideas in spaces where those voices cannot reach – in an all white group of people for example.
The relative quiet of white men on my social media timelines has made me question this limited view of my role. Is there a group of young white men like me out there who just aren’t posting because they think that black people and women are handling the problem just fine thereby leaving out a more white male audience?
Social media isn’t the be all and end all of anti-racist action and the real proof comes from what people do in person. It would be incredibly dangerous to claim that anyone who does not post on a megacorporation’s website cannot be an activist. By raising this I only mean to note the relative action of different groups on my time lines over the last week or so.
Whatever they are, the reasons that white men appear less likely to publicly support anti-racist movements need to be addressed. Whether that be helping people overcome anxieties they have about engaging with the issues or educating them better. The important thing is that when we are in a position to act, we are equipped with the knowledge and confidence to do so appropriately. This is what will produce change.
Right now it may feel like it is the time to act by sharing on social media, just remember that this is one battle in a war that must be fought every day. While remaining silent forever is not an option the number of resources being shared at the moment provide a brilliant opportunity to educate yourself and find your voice in the fight about racism. Speak when you’re ready, simply posting because others are doesn’t make you a better person. One social media post won’t change the world, but failing to act at all is a crime.
I still believe that the primary role of white men in supporting anti-racist movements should be to amplify the voices of others. So, here are some resources and links for donations that could be useful right now.
To those in Minnesota – https://minnesotafreedomfund.org/
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, set up in the aftermath of Stephen Lawernce in 1993 the charity works with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds aged 13 to 30 to inspire and enable them to succeed in the career of their choice – https://www.stephenlawrence.org.uk/
Reni Eddo-Lodge’s podcasts – these work best as a supplement to her book but if you just want to get into her thinking they’re a great place to start.
London events you can get involved with
If you want to go back to foundational ideas then bell hook’s “Ain’t I a woman” is essential reading. Franz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks also helps you get an idea of the ideas underpinning modern anti-racist movements. Also if you don’t know who Angela Davis is, acquaint yourself now.
Follow the other box to continue learning on a day to day basis – https://www.instagram.com/_theotherbox/
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Sharing this great action-led resource by TOB community member @mireillecharper • Original caption from @mireillecharper (continued in the comments): Social media has been a bit overwhelming since I first put up this post so it has taken some time for me to post this. On Friday, I shared this content on Twitter after I felt the conversations online were like screaming into an echo chamber. I wanted to provide those who wanted to support and be an ally with practical tips to move forward and make a change in our society. I am still somewhat surprised and overwhelmed by the reception so please take patience with me at this time. — For a note on who I am to those who have followed me from Twitter, my name is Mireille. I'm an assistant editor and I do freelance writing, PR and sensitivity reading and other bits on the side. I am extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion, and everything I have shared is not new knowledge to me. From as far back as I can remember I've been campaigning, fighting for equality and supporting and working with black owned organisations. I have worked in the diversity and inclusion space for around four years and I have been equipped with knowledge, skills etc through that work as well as through wider, intensive reading and being raised by a Jamaican mother who has a degree in Women's Studies. I felt as a mixed race person who was emotionally capable despite the current situation that I could use my learned experience, skills and compassion to offer this advice to allies and anyone else who was seeking advice but didn't know where to turn. This is now on my stories as a highlight so please feel free to share from there or here (…continued in comments)
Fiction and Film
Fiction has a way of unlocking ideas and feelings that simple philosophy cannot. Reading the entire Noughts and Crosses series when I was really young had a big effect on how I think about race and my place within societal power structures. Jordan Peele’s films and Sorry To Bother You are great options for films if you’re more into movies.