Brute Reason

A collection of thoughts about psychology, social justice, and anything else I give a shit about.

Topics: feminism / psychology / lgbtq / sex / politics / abortion / health / mental illness / language / depression / sexism / sexual assault / fashion / racism / education / social justice

my actual writing, if you're curious

So, this came up today in one of my classes and I’ve seen it come up often in discussions about racism: we’ll be talking about privilege and how white people benefit from it in all these ways they might not recognize, and a white person will be like, “Well ok, so we benefit from it, now what? Are we supposed to decline our job offers? Are we supposed to ask the police officer to write us a ticket rather than just letting us off with a warning? What’s the point of talking about how we benefit from this supposed privilege when we should be talking about what to do about it?”

I think there are a few things going on here. First of all, I think that the focus that many white people have of immediately jumping to “ok well tell me what I can do about this whole racism thing” and demanding that educators, activists, and people of color in general provide them with ready-made solutions is not an accident. I think they have this focus because they are unwilling to sit still with the discomfort of really thinking about the fact that we get handed all of these advantages that we did nothing to earn.

Second, I think that many people undervalue the idea of talking about things without necessarily brainstorming solutions immediately. If you’re white, it’s your responsibility to listen to people of color share their experiences of living in a white supremacist world. You might not think you’re “accomplishing” anything by just listening rather than doing doing doing, but you are. You’re learning.

Third, this just makes no sense. If you go to your doctor for a checkup and they find something wrong and say, “I think you have _____; you’ll need to see a specialist for treatment,” you would never claim that what your doctor did was useless just because they didn’t treat your condition or tell you how to treat it. Your doctor performed the important service of alerting you to the fact that there’s something wrong, and you need to do something about it. An anti-racist educator who alerts you to the fact that you haven’t thought about your place in the world as a white person and how you might be upholding the system that keeps you on top is also doing an vital job, even if they don’t give you a pamphlet called “How To End Racism In Five Easy Steps.”

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    this is important
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    Something I think about a lot.
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