We were asked, “White people, calling you all out today. Yes you…that’s right. Anyway….I need to know, do you consider yourselves “allies” of POC. If so then why? I need to know what you know about your own privilege, and the fact that you’re not an oppressed person and how you go about standing by POC specifically in my case, a black person. Also for all white people, state the time when you realized you had the ultimate privilege. “
Perhaps it’s sad that I didn’t have to ponder long on how to answer this, because I feel as if I think about it all the time. I don’t use the word woke because I don’t think I’ve earned it, but I guess I try to be. This is how I responded:
Definitely a big moment in realising just what white privilege was and how I benefited from it came over and over again in college. I took the history of civil rights and saw so many parts of U.S. history that completely uprooted the white-washed, uber-patriotic-happy-proud stories I’d been told up until then. I was appalled at how anyone who wasn’t white had been treated, and even more so at how this was so often not acknowledged by those who hadn’t suffered in the same way.
I remember a specific moment when I had gotten into a car accident ten years ago, and my friend who had been my passenger at the time and who is black, was treated like utter shit by the police who came to the scene. They ran his license even though he wasn’t driving and were completely rude to him and refused to take his statement, even though he had witnessed the other party in the accident ramming into us, right into his side door. When I tried to talk to the officer about this, about how they needed to take his statement, she became completely indignant and then they started treating me like crap too. That’s when I saw that not only were POC going to be treated unfairly, but I was too just for associating with ‘them.’ Obviously I would never have it as bad, or suffer as much, but their racism was so disgustingly pervasive that it extended as prejudice to anyone who attempted to support people who have been oppressed.
That’s why I don’t know if I can call myself an ‘ally’ because it’s not really my place and honestly I know there are some things I will never understand about being a POC… But I can say that I will stick up for anyone being treated unfairly, and I am left confused and speechless at the hate that POC receive. Black lives matter, black is beautiful, why are these things so difficult for people to say or support?? I have so many wonderful people in my life who support me and love me and they are a whole mix of races and ethnicities which don’t match my own and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t know if ally is the right word, but I’m certainly a friend.
Also, honestly, Trump brought out the worst in people, people I thought I knew and loved. So many white men showed their true selves when they thought suddenly the whole U.S. was an open forum for racism and misogyny. I had to listen at my work as men chanted, “grab her by the pussy!” over and over again. It turned my stomach and left me feeling empty and I can only imagine how much worse it is for someone to hear and experience things like that all the time just because of the colour of their skin or texture of their hair, etc.
As for being white and making fun of other white people, I’m just the kind of person who doesn’t consider any joke off limits. Comedy is all or nothing and there’s no line for me. I’m very aware of my whiteness, I’m awkward AF and I don’t mind if people laugh at me for it. They should. Us white people do some dumb things and I have no problem laughing at them, particularly with terrible food ideas. Sorry but you can’t cover hotdogs with cinnamon bun frosting and expect to not get roasted… And just because I’m not one of the people who cook these nasty things doesn’t mean I don’t understand that us white people make mistakes in the culinary department!
So I don’t know if I can call myself an ally, if I’m allowed, but I’d like to be. There are so many people in the world who deserve better, who’ve been treated wrong for no justified reason, and I’d like to do what I can to help prevent that.