Racism in Britain, in July 2021 – a message to fellow white people
Updated: Sep 28
I have found myself writing posts this week and deleting them. And I have started this blog a few times too. I’m not quite sure where to start and I don’t know where it will finish. But I know that I need to rise above my #whitefragility to share my views about the #racism in Britain in this week.
For those outside of the UK, the #England football team made it to the finals of the European Championships last weekend. It was the first time England's mens football team were in the final of a major competition since the World Cup in 1966. For a non-sporty person, even I can appreciate this is an outstanding achievement! Unfortunately though, England lost to Italy on a penalty shootout.
I don’t know much about the England team or their coach. What I do know, is the vilification towards the players who are racialised as black is absolutely disgusting. What I hadn’t appreciated at the time of watching the penalty shoot out last Sunday night, was that the backlash on these young players was entirely predictable by their community.
It shocked me to know that colleagues and strangers alike were scared for their friends and family who were out that night. I heard phrases like “this will be bad for us” and people asking for their loved ones to stay home on Monday purely to stay safe.
Why did it shock me? Even though I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal work on anti-racism over the last year or so, I still get wrapped up in my own #whiteprivilege. The colour of my skin means I don’t have to think about these things.
I might think to myself, “but I don’t share those vile racist views” – and that would be #whiteexceptionalism.
Or I might think, “I don’t see colour, I treat everyone the same” – and that would be #colourblindness.
I might also think, “it’s not the majority of people that think that way so I don’t have to do anything about it” – and that would be #whiteapathy.
Concepts such as white fragility, white exceptionalism, colour blindness, optical allyship, appropriation, white silence, white apathy, white centring – these are all terms I didn’t know much about until the last three months to be honest. I’ve been working my way through Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad – journaling on the reflective questions, sharing those thoughts with some peers and unpicking a lot of ugly stuff about #stereotypes and my own #ignorance. The honest truth is, there is still an awful lot of work to do. And it will be a lifelong process.
This is the work folks. Noticing all of your reactions to what you hear, see, think and feel. Asking if it comes from a position of privilege and really questioning it. It’s hard work, but it’s nowhere near as hard as it is for those who experience racism.
In the words of Sandie Dunne this week, “if you’re not feeling uncomfortable, you’re not noticing”.
2023 Postscript - At Full Frame Coach, I now run Unlearning Circles for white people (of all genders) who want to understand their privilege and unpack what racism means for them in their day to day lives. Check out www.fullframecoach.com/services for more information.