This is a post for white people, specifically white anti-racists (aka allies, but that’s a word I do not use and I’ll explain why below).
Whenever I hear a white anti-racist claim they are not afraid of confronting white supremacy I am guessing they are either not aware of how dangerous and difficult it is, are following the trend because that’s what we do in the era of the pussy hat, are not being fully honest and faking bravery, or some combination of the three.
This shit is real, and it is scary. Speaking truth to power has historically gotten a lot of amazing, brilliant, incredibly brave people killed. White supremacy is a force that is not to be trifled with.
Being afraid is in no way an excuse. Absofuckinglutely not. Hiding behind our white skin when we get scared of the monstrosity of the world has never been and will never be an excuse. “Good” white people who are silent as the bigots march, who look on with concerned faces and murmur amongst ourselves about just how wrong and sad this all is….well, take a look back at 1940’s Germany at some of the photos of the good white people watching the Jews march past, and then take a look at some photos from 1940’s America at the good white people watching the Japanese march past, and you’ll see a lot of good white people with concerned looks on their faces, some of them even handing out sandwiches and oranges to the people boarding the trains, and almost none of them doing a damn thing. And the ones that did? They were usually inprisioned or killed. So, tell me again how it isn’t scary to speak against white supremacy.
But being afraid is not an excuse to sit back and just worry.
If we’re not afraid at all, then it’s time to worry. Because that means we’ve made this into a game, and making this into a game means we’re just pawns on the chess board. And we’re the white pawns. You know what that means? If we’re not constantly and consistently aware of what we’re doing and why, then we’re being controlled by the white heads of state. You think for one minute they haven’t noticed how #ally is a thing now? How pink pussy hats were the must have fashion accessory for white women in 2017? They have noticed. Considering how much of our organizing — and how too much our protesting —is happening in online spaces, they have noticed and they are keeping track.
We should also be afraid that we’re doing this wrong, because good white people have a long history of doing this wrong. If we’re not afraid, we run a very real risk of allowing our egos lead the show, more intent on proving how good we are at being “allies” then in truly dismantling white supremacy.
And here’s where I will explain why I personally do not agree with or use the word ally: allyship is something someone who is not affected by a thing does on behalf of a person who is affected by that thing.
White supremacy is killing us all. Just because I’m white doesn’t mean I’m immune to its horrors. And really, my white skin means I carry the guilt of creating and perpetuating this shit, so not only am I affected by it, I’m culpable. The moment I call myself an ally, I have stepped out of the shit of white supremacy, toweled myself clean, and am now re-entering as a white savior, saying, “look how good I am for doing this work that I don’t need to be doing.”
So no, we’re not allies. We’re either explicitly involved in dismantling white supremacy, or we’re complicit in upholding it.
The stakes are high. This isn’t a game. The work is filled with love, but this isn’t cute. Turning towards the paleness of white supremacy and speaking truth to its lies is terrifying. But the alternative is even worse.
But if you tell me you aren’t afraid, I am going to wonder why.
Now, if you’ve gotten this far and are a woman or femme, the rest of this message is for you. White dudes, don’t you come in my inbox or the comments telling me shit about what I’m about to say.
Womxn: Fear is woven through our bones, and for good reason. We know how dangerous the patriarchy is. What we also need to know is that our white skin gives us a protection that is a privilege- and if we aren’t using that privilege to benefit all women and femmes of color, we’re upholding white supremacy.
It is scary to be a woman and speak to power, because we know how much the backlash can hurt, that there is a very real likelihood that we are putting ourselves in real danger. It is difficult to overcome the conditioning that makes us meek and demure, because those are the tokens we offer to get a seat in the master’s house. It’s the price we pay to have the illusion of safety. It’s still not an excuse, but I’m telling you I get it. It’s real.
That conditioning and protection also means that we white women do a lot of harm, a lot of the time. We are dangerous. We have to earn any trust we get from women and femmes of color, and even then, we are still going to do some damage. That should scare you. It scares me.
So this is why I have made a space for white women, and exclusively white cis-women, to look at our complicity in white supremacy and our responsibility to dismantle it. Because white cis-women have always been a tool of white supremacy. Always. And so white cis-women have a specific responsibility to its destruction. It’s also why in developing this course I made sure to gather (and importantly, pay) a team of Black women to make sure I’m doing this as best I can. Because I don’t trust my whiteness not one bit. It scares the shit out of me.
I’m offering another round of The Skeleton Key: Dismantle, a 5 week course for white women to examine our white supremacy. We go deep. It is only 5 weeks so it isn’t complete, but we go to the bones and from there, the work is yours to continue. It isn’t fun and it isn’t comfortable, but in the first round of the course last November, the collective of us repeatedly noted how while it didn’t feel good to be talking about this, it did feel better to be talking about this in a space of people who were not going to fight us on the existence of white supremacy- it is a real relief to realize you’re in a space where no one is trying to say you’re overreacting and making all this up. And being in a collective of women talking about this meant we could at least soften the edge that keeps us afraid of what some man is going to do or say to us next. It gives us a space to practice confronting white supremacy within ourselves, and gather the strength needed to actively confront white supremacist cispatriarchy in our relationships, jobs, and communities.
We start February 4th and I’ll put the link below but here is the thing: I want to be very clear that while it is absolutely urgent that you do this work, you don’t need to do it with me. Urgency is real- time has been up, don’t take that hashtag from Oprah. White women are late to the game, this time has been up for about 500 years, so we don’t get to feel like we’re all on the same team now. So yes, this is urgent. Yes, you have to do this. No, you don’t have to do it with me. Follow me, unfollow me, sign up for the course or don’t, but you need to do this work.
And it should scare you to do it.
If it scares you to do it and you want to do it with me, www.abigailroseclarke.com/dismantle