I’ve been thinking about writing this blog post for a while now. Ever since I read about Munroe Bergdorf, the transgender model sacked by L’Oréal for writing a ‘racist’post. I have put ‘racist’ in quote marks because what Munroe actually said was something along the lines of ‘All white people are born racist’. She also said a number of other things within that post and commentary has been written by better writers than me about the other points she raised but here’s my take as a cis white female.
When I first heard about the post, it was uncomfortable to hear. I’m a white person so I was born racist? Then I did some reading around the subject and I agree. It’s really uncomfortable for me to write those words because I never want to be associated with racism but the extended reading around the subject makes it clear that Munroe wasn’t saying that all white people are racist. She was saying that white people inherently have a tendency to be racist due to society unless they are surrounded by other factors.
I know I am privileged to be white. I think some people think that by supporting people like Munroe, that means that you are apologising for your whiteness. I don’t think acknowledging my white privilege is being apologetic about it. After all I can’t help being white. However what I can, and do, apologise for is that society does, and I hope it is better than it was, place certain value and privilege on white people. Which is wrong.
Munroe’s article said that not being racist is not the same as being anti-racist and she is right. I consider myself not to be racist. I hope that if I see a racist act I will speak up always because nobody should be judged on their skin colour. A few months ago I went to an event which talked about women and amplification. Amplification is about not being afraid to join together as a group of people and using influence to change other people’s opinions and thoughts. There are so many beautiful, intelligent PoC writers out there who manage to say things more eloquently than me but sadly some people will take more notice of me as a white person. It’s a really sad fact and I do get angry about it but more than that I want to continue writing and signposting to those articles, because they say more than I ever could. I don’t know what it is like to feel unsafe because of the colour of my skin. From a societal perspective I’m pretty ordinary, I am in a heterosexual relationship, I identify as my biological gender, I’m white. I am a female which is probably another blog post but ultimately I’ve been given opportunities that sometimes I forget about. I’m not perfect and I’m not racist but could I improve my amplification to support non-white females? Definitely. Men as well!