I am a racist – what a hard sentence to write out. I am not one consciously, but i have plenty of white privilege, I have lived an easy life, not constantly wondering if the police, security guards, military are going to find my life expendable. I try really hard not to judge people by skin colour, by race, but I do, of course I do, we all do, but been aware and trying to do better is all i can offer.
I grew up taught apartheid was right to keep the races pure, that black people had smaller brains, that they needed white people to tell them what to do. I grew up taught black people could not be trusted, that they were like children. The racism, that casual dismissal of one race, the fact “coloureds” and “indians” could be second class – not quite good enough to be white, but close, a whole country was that. South Africa a complicated legacy, trust me, I love my country, I am horrified what was done in the name of “white power”.
I have spent my time since I left unlearning, unlearning the casual dismissal, unlearning the fear, unlearning the taught prejudice. I will never not see colour, that has never been my goal, my goal is to accept people for who they are, and their actions regardless on race and skin colour.
I like to think I am ok at it. I still cringe about lessons I had to learn, and I am happy I have had friends and coworkers who were more than patient with me, who cared enough to explain, to teach.
Living the the USA has taught me more about systematic racism than anything else, how constant pressure and media, how code shifting and “good hair” are good in some instances and bad in other, how been yourself is criminal. It has taught be a black man can yell about killing and raping and be censored, but a white person has aggression and room to grow. That a white guy in a hoodie is cool, a black guy is a thug. How food of the poor and disadvantaged can be co-opted so that now it is to expensive. That judgement is constant.
It makes me want to scream and yell, “check your privilege” – but am i checking mine? I hope, and I hope and I try and I try.