White People’s Opinion on Racism is Important

A few days ago I received an interesting remark on my Black Pete post: “Just another white kid trying to dictate what is racist or not. Nothing to see here.”  Now, aside from the fact that I was in no way saying that the character of Black Pete isn’t racist, I find that a very interesting remark, because it implies an important question: does it actually matter what white people think about racism? According to a large group of people, apparently, it doesn’t. I’m going to disagree.

I have said this before, but I often feel like equality-movements are stuck in the past, and that activism isn’t properly thought about. We just do whatever we think is fun and whatever used to be effective, and that’s all. This particular situation is one such example, because in the 1950s, it didn’t matter what white people thought about racism. Now it does.

When Martin Luther King gave his famous “I have a dream” speech, he lived in a time in which not every black person agreed with the fact that they weren’t inferior to white people. He lived in a time in which people had to be convinced to stand up for their own rights and when racism was so badly indoctrinated into everyone’s consciousness that people actually accepted their own inferiority. His efforts were aimed at convincing black people that they should be equal, so that they could inspire changes in the law.

Things have changed, since then. In the Western world, people of all races are equal by law (save the occasional “reverse-racism” law, but that’s irrelevant here) and I think it’s safe to say that just about every black person believes that they should be equal. And that means that the goal has changed. It’s no longer about convincing black people to stand up for their rights or about convincing politicians that racism should be abolished by law. It’s about convincing white people that all races are equal.

So far I haven’t said anything new. I do assume basically everyone will agree to this point, which is exactly what I find so strange… because then why do so many people still think that the opinion of a white person doesn’t matter when it comes to racism? Isn’t that a little paradoxical? Doesn’t that mean that the goal is to convince white people without considering what white people think? Rule number one of every politician, celebrity or rhetorician when they want to convince people is to consider their audience, so why are so many anti-racism activists ignoring that audience?

Of course it’s a problem when white people think that black people are just complaining about a non-existent issue, but why is that not taken as a sign that something is wrong? Why is that only seen as a fault in white people’s thinking, and not as a fault in the activism? The entire purpose here is to get white people to agree, so when they disagree, something is going wrong and improvement will be needed. Improvement that sure as hell won’t be coming from the racists themselves.

That is the point I wanted to make with my post about Black Pete. It doesn’t matter what a black person finds racist as long as he or she cannot convince the supposed racists that there is an issue, because then nothing will change. Calling an entire country racist, like many did, isn’t going to convince those people, it will turn them against you. All it does is convince those who already agreed, but that’s pointless. We are past the age in which black people had to be convinced of their own rights. Now it’s time to convince white people, and that can only be done by considering their thoughts and reactions, whether you like them or not.

~

I do realise that this post can be interpreted as me saying “listen to me because I’m important.” As you can imagine, that’s not quite what I’m trying to say, but I do see the issue. Let me just stress that I mean this all on a general level, and not at all about myself.

Anyway, don’t forget to rate/share/like this post, and if you have any thoughts of your own, please do leave them in the comments! And if you’re new here? Feel free to like the Facebook page for regular updates, or try having a look at the list of most popular posts!

More on this topic from Dean Richards:

Racism in Young Children: Our Future

Why The George Zimmerman Case Has Nothing To Do With Racism

Irrational Activism: Why “Black Peter” Should Not Be Called Racist

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About Dean Richards

A young student with a passion for writing. Aspiring author and human rights activist, but I write about anything. "If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree!" New blog post every Monday!
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6 Responses to White People’s Opinion on Racism is Important

  1. nickgreyden says:

    And therein lies the crux of it. Very good and couldn’t agreed more.

  2. AirAKose says:

    Great points. Part of the problem lies in people misunderstanding the difference between victim blaming and reflective activism. Reflective activism involves looking back at what you’ve done so far, reviewing what works and what doesn’t, and changing strategy accordingly. Victim blaming is a general mindset that the victim is the cause of their own problems. When you suggest that someone change their approach or reconsider it, they assume that you are saying they are at fault for continuing racism, label it as victim blaming, and discredit everything you say.

    I hit this wall recently talking to the LGBTQ community about their outward hatred towards cisgendered people and their wish for equality. No matter how much I clarified, “You are the solution, not the problem, but hatred is turning many people away from supporting you,” they insisted that it was victim blaming and wouldn’t even talk about hypotheticals.

  3. Interesting point of view. The problem Black people deal with is actually not ‘educating’ white Pete. We have been doing that for many centuries, and I am not pleased with the results. Instead, we need to educate our own people. To provide our selves with our story that has been stolen from us, brutally violated and repressed, turned into something that makes no sense. Many of us still have to learn to speak (out). If you still cannot speak, then what use is it to try to educate those that know more about your real story than you do?! It is why I have no need to participate in the Black Pete war. When Dutch students planned to have a nazi-jhw party, all of a sudden all those people who did not mind Black Pete, were firmly against the jhw-star party. The police got involved and the party was canceled. See, some traditions are more equal than others…

  4. D says:

    I always hate the idea that racism cannot happen against white people. On the one hand people forget that there are different race levels in other countries. And on the other they want me to not view them as their ancestors but view me as the horrible white person who came to the land they were inhabiting. (I’m from New Zealand, where we’ve tried pretty hard to not be douche bags and where the white guy was a douche bag we’ve tried to make up for it.) I am not my ancestors (I don’t even know if the bad guys in the past were in fact my personal ancestors, just because I’m white doesn’t mean I’m related to all the white people in the past), I do not want to steal your land so why am I treated as if I am the person who did all the terrible things in the past (and lets not even think about the nice things my ‘ancestors’ did. They were white, couldn’t possibly have done anything good).
    This turned into a bit of a rant. I guess what I’m trying to say is that hate in the past shouldn’t be answered with hate and in countries like America hate in the present shouldn’t be answered with hate either because it only makes the other side think that they’re right and then we go in this big circle and get nowhere fast.

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