Sans Cilice


White Anti-Racism: No Hairshirt Necessary

“Life’s Most Persistant and Urgent Question Is: What Are You Doing for Others?”-MLK

***SEE UPDATE (02/11/2010) AT BOTTOM

Originally writen on 01/18/2010:

Huffington Post’s headline for Martin Luther King Day, 2010, is the MLK quote above. It is a headline which links to a listicle about the myriad ways you can (and should!) contribute to the relief efforts in Haiti. I am embarrased to say that, due to my current lack of funds, and an old cell phone that is so broken that it would be a waste of time to donate, I have done no more for the people of Haiti than to encourage Ben to donate more. He did. And that’s great. But it felt easy. I do not feel as though I have actually DONE anything for the people of Haiti, and I think I will feel this way once I do have funds to donate. In this case though, our own satisfaction with our actions is really not relevant and should not be used as the metric by which the value of effort is determined. It is the money that matters.

I need to address this question more thoroughly in terms of my life as whole. After all, my stance in life as an anti-racist and explicitly in this blog is that actually helping the people whose subjugation we decry is FAR superior to merely cultivating a guilt-ridden awareness of the many ways in which we, merely for being white, have benefited from undue privilege. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: for a white anti-racist to focus primarily on white-privilege issues is to disengage from the ongoing problem of racism.

I must say, I fear that the forthcoming posts will seem horribly self-congratulatory and will be of only minimal encouragement to others. I think this process is necessary though, seeing as I only have a few vagueries in mind of what I actually do that could conceivably make a difference. I would love to be challenged. I know I could do more; every person could do more. But, I don’t think that every person needs to be an overt activist for society to be changed. I don’t think that ‘walking the walk’ is only defined by large, easily identifiable, singular actions. It is my hope that the actions I take and the choices I make outside of the blogosphere are up to snuff with the beliefs I express here.

***UPDATE: Originally, I had intended to write a series of posts in response to this question. Upon further reflection though, I think that continuing to post responses is unproductive and sort of grossly self-congratulatory. I will leave the first response up because I think it is worth reading and was genuinely written in response to the question of what I do for others. An important clarification though: when I site my verbal protest of acquaintances’ remarks as something I do for others, I do not mean that such protests are motivated by some sort of charitable spirit. In actuality, I think they are motivated by a mix of disgust, anger and discomfort. What I mean is that the outcome of protesting such remarks has greater benefit to others than it does to me (unless I am responding to misogyny or another prejudice that is directly hurtful to my own identity.)


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