I have a special and personal interest in Immigration, Resettlement and Racism. As the daughter of immigrants into a European country I have had to deal with it personally. Not just with „I will punch your face“-racism but also with „I can’t give you a job unless you take off your hijab“-racism or „I can’t believe you speak german so well“-racism. Where the first version is an actual threat to my health, it is mostly committed by mentally unhinged people and is not taken seriously by me.
If I tell someone about it I usually receive sympathy followed by „But that’s a crazy person!“ – which is white people making sure that they can continue believing racism does not exist in their home country. The same logic is applied to any other incident where I have been treated with racism. (white) people keep telling me „but that’s a crazy person“ or „you misunderstood that“ or „I would be treated like that too!“. Me and other Non-whites must be magnets for crazy people and misunderstanding then, because I am not alone with these experiences.
Behind our backs I know that those same white people are saying „Wow, she is so sensitive“. But when someone says to them that they said something racist, they are quite frankly the most butthurt about it. „I am not racist“ they cry, „I have a black *fill in a relationship*, so I can’t be racist“ – they treat it like someone just told them they have the Zika Virus. And the only thing that does, is to shut down the conversation. But today, more than ever, we need to have this conversation!
So, my dear white people, I suggest we stop treating racism like a taboo subject. We stop treating it like a swear word or a shut down for a conversation. We stop treating it like an infectious disease. We are all racist. Every person on this planet is racist, you too, me too. So let’s take a deep breath and relax. You say stupid racist things. I do the same. Don’t be offended when someone says „That’s racist“, just stop a second and say „I’m sorry, that was not my intention. How is this racist?“ And then be prepared to have your mind blown off by a truly honest, heartfelt conversation.
Because we – all minority races – are waiting for this response by you. We are waiting to have our hurt recognized and talked about. We are waiting to have it acknowledged and given a place. That’s where the healing begins. We are waiting for you, dear white people, to come and join us.
So start treating racism like spinach between your teeth or accidentally bumping into someone. Apologize for it, you may feel a little embarrassed, but then don’t just turn your back but engage the other person. That will open up so many doors for you, that you didn’t even know existed. Just try it.