Many White folks congratulate themselves for not being racist. YouTube star Franchesca Ramsey made a funny but cringe-worthy video about “not racist White people” that gets right to the heart of this conversation. But, this video published at The Guardian, featuring 2015 Man Booker Prize winning Jamaican writer Marlon James, explains why this mentality is so harmful.
In essence, James explains that not being racist doesn’t actually prevent racial violence. He says that you can be non-racist from your own bed without ever doing anything to prevent the murders and other atrocities committed against racial minorities. So, isn’t it time we expect more than non-racism?
Watch the full video and read the transcript below:
Here is a complete transcript of the video:
“Several months ago in response to Ferguson, Baltimore, the killings of Freddie Gray and Tamir Rice, my friend Caitlyn put up a Facebook post breaking down the difference between non-racism and anti-racism. Most of us are non-racist. Because racism is looked upon as some moral lapse, we feel quite self-assured by simply not being racist. ‘I’m not a bigot. I don’t sing that ’N’ word when my favorite rap jam comes on. I didn’t vote for that guy. I’m not burning any crosses. I’m not a skinhead.’‘I don’t. I won’t. I’m not. I’ve never. I can’t.’
What you end up with is an entire moral stance, an entire code for living your life and dealing with all the injustice in the world by not doing a damn thing. That’s the great thing about “non-”: you can put it off by simply rolling over in your bed and going to sleep.
So why are you sitting at home and watching things unfold on TV instead of doing something about it? Because you’re a non-racist, not an anti-racist.
Now, do this for me: take the “c” out of racist and replace it with a “p”. ‘I’m not a rapist. I’m not friends with any rapist. I didn’t buy that rapist’s last album.’ All these things that you’re not doing.
Meanwhile, people are still getting raped, and black boys are being killed. It’s not enough that you don’t do these things. Your going to bed with a clear conscience is not going to stop college students from getting assaulted. You thinking climate change is terrible is not going to stop climate change. You being so assured that you’re not anti-Black, anti-Muslim, won’t stop the next hate crime. And it’s wonderful that you recognize how brave gay people are when they’re facing persecution. But they aren’t the ones who need to be brave. We need to get active. We need to hold people accountable. We need to accept that what hurts one of us hurts all of us. And we need to stop thinking that injustice going on in the world isn’t to an extent our fault.
We need to stop being “non-” and start being “anti-”.
Photo credit: The Guardian video screenshot