I called this session because it seems like white people only ever engage with issues around race and racism when it is brought to our attention by those who are oppressed by it. White people don't seem to have conversations about ourselves and race. How we benefit from structural racism. How the vast majority of us would never identify as racist (me?! no!) but don't actually do anything to end racism and the inequality it perpetuates. This session was about these topics, and the space was held by a mixed group.

We talked about the question: what do we think white privilege is? We acknowledged the obvious 'advantages': power, an easy-ride, opportunities, more access to wealth and resources, job prospects. Education that is about "our history". But we also talked about the 'disadvantages': all these things foster entitlement. This means a certain detachment, a dishonest engagement with life and the world as it really is. Fragility and fragile sense of selves. Unconsciousness. Lack of emotional intelligence (patriarchy intersects with this too). These things foster defensiveness - inability to deal with confrontation. Closed-mindedness. Fear-driven identity that prevents really understanding ourselves as people.

Some notes that were taken, and actions that were agreed useful in starting to answer some of these questions:

1.) Begin by racialising ourselves. For white people, 'race' is something not white. We need to racialise ourselves to understand ourselves, our privilege, and our complicity in keeping racial inequality alive.

2.) Actively disadvantage ourselves. This might be committing to never taking a senior role in an organisation. This might be stepping back from application processes where there are black and/or brown people are also applying. This is giving your money if you can - give to indivduals' paypals, support gofundme profiles and crowdfunders. Give up space.

3.) Support black and brown businesses.

4.) Put racism on the agenda. On your life, day-to-day agenda. This will be at work: talk to your colleagues about where the black and brown people are in your organisation? This isn't just about 'diversity' as a tick-box exercise. Why are there so many white people? What are the things that cause this? This will also be in conversations with your friends and family. Make it a subject that is prioritised.

5.) White people will get angry when we suggest we are the problem, that we are implicated. White people need to have these conversations with other white people so it's not down to those who are oppressed by racism to deal with (yet more) confrontation and opposition to their experiences and existence.

6.) The time is now. The hour is now. Small everyday changes will help. This is a long long process and change won't happen overnight. Don't expect to be rewarded for calling racism out: this isn't about us, this isn't about being 'woke'. Encourage other white people to be aware and participate.

7.) Believe black and brown people WHENEVER they say they have experienced a form of racism. Listen to their experiences and validate them. As white people we will never know what this is like, so we can't begin to decide what or what does not constitute racism.

8.) Lastly, begin to be okay with feeling uncomfortable. With feeling defensive (just don't act on it). Racism is ugly, and owning up to whiteness and privilege is not fun. It's okay to acknowledge this. Through this discomfort we will also learn a lot about ourselves in the process.


If anyone reading wants to talk further about these issues, in any way, shape or form, please feel free to contact: Anna - [email protected]l.co.uk, or Fergus - [email protected]