White Privilege: The existence of poor white people doesn’t erase Racism

Around 2:00am this morning, I was woken up by a WhatsApp message from an ex. What did he want in the middle of the night? Well, it turned out he has just seen a homeless white couple and he wanted me to know racism is a figment of my imagination.

Just saw this drug couple sitting in the street in front the train station with a two years old daughter. It really breaks my heart. Not all children are born equal

Alert – Assumption that all homeless people are drug addicts.

His conclusion –

In Ipswich, skin colour is the least problem

I was like, “White Satan, get thee away from me this ungodly hour!”

I refused to be dragged into that discussion again, especially at such hour. However, the message kept nagging at me, I really wanted to ignore it but thought i should not. So, first thing in the morning, I sent him a few lengthy responses about what the reaction would have been if it was a homeless black couple with their two-year-old daughter sitting outside a train station, and in Ipswich of all places. The reaction would more have been around the line of-

  • “WTF is a black person doing in our white neighbourhood”
  • “Those immigrants are filthy and have bought their poverty to our dear Ipswich”
  • “Go home niggers, we don’t need your type here.”

Unfortunately, I’ve had this type of discussion with him so many times. He thinks because he was a cash strapped German who came to UK about twenty years ago, and had to do some menial jobs to survive, black people cannot blame anything, including their economic circumstances, on racism. In fact, to him it is not racism, it is a class struggle issue. Unfortunately, he is one of those white people who think that racism is a thing of the past and that Classicism is the problem.

I cannot reiterate enough that White people who claim not to see colour while benefiting from systemic racism are part of the problem.

While on a date with a nice, white gentleman who identify as a progressive, I told him his white skin was like winning a lottery. He immediately thought I wanted to be white and that I had internalised self-hate for my black skin! I tried to explain how being a white person can be a lottery you did not even sign up to play, but I doubt he got the point. Also, he wanted me to put a label on his sexual orientation because as a cis, upper middle class white man, he dated a very feminine Asian trans woman. I point blank told him i don’t put label on anyone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. However, I think if as a cis man you date a trans woman, this would not in any way affect your sexual orientation or gender identity. You dated a woman, that is all there is to it. No, it doesn’t make you queer or means you can now identify as LGBTQ, not if you truly believe you dated a woman, anyway.

Well, back to the issue of my ex and his erasure and denial of racism because of the existence of poor white people. My attempts to make him consider that he probably reacted that way because they were homeless white people and not homeless black people only made him angrier than see sense. He responded that it was about the girl, not my egoism. Yeah, my lived experience of racism as an immigrant black woman in a western country is all about my ego. Racism is a figment of my egoist imagination.

I was like okay, if you can’t take my black ass word for it as i am an egoist black woman, maybe you will consider the word of a white person. Then I googled some articles on white privilege and immediately the beloved article, ‘Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Personby Gina Crosley-Corcoran came up. I thought yeah, I’d share that, but then I thought. “Shit, a white woman wrote it”. I know a white man would stand a better chance of getting to my ex than a white woman, but well, I sent him the article anyway. Unfortunately, all he saw was that it was a Huffington post article, and before he even read it, he responded that Huffington post is conformist propaganda. I told him he probably was confusing it with Daily mail or Fox news.

Anyway, I wanted to share this enlightening article by Gina Crosley-Corcoran with you. The article was her reaction to the acclaimed academic piece by Peggy McIntosh titled- ‘White privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack’.

Excerpts from Explaining White Privilege To A Broke White Person by Gina Crosley-Corcoran

I, maybe more than most people, can completely understand why broke white folks get pissed when the word “privilege” is thrown around. As a child I was constantly discriminated against because of my poverty, and those wounds still run very deep. But luckily my college education introduced me to a more nuanced concept of privilege: the term “intersectionality.” The concept of intersectionality recognizes that people can be privileged in some ways and definitely not privileged in others. There are many different types of privilege, not just skin-color privilege, that impact the way people can move through the world or are discriminated against. These are all things you are born into, not things you earned, that afford you opportunities that others may not have. For example:

Citizenship: Simply being born in this country affords you certain privileges that non-citizens will never access.

Class: Being born into a financially stable family can help guarantee your health, happiness, safety, education, intelligence, and future opportunities.

Sexual orientation: If you were born straight, every state in this country affords you privileges that non-straight folks have to fight the Supreme Court for.

Sex: If you were born male, you can assume that you can walk through a parking garage without worrying that you’ll be raped and then have to deal with a defense attorney blaming it on what you were wearing.

Ability: If you were born able-bodied, you probably don’t have to plan your life around handicap access, braille, or other special needs.

Gender identity: If you were born cisgender (that is, your gender identity matches the sex you were assigned at birth), you don’t have to worry that using the restroom or locker room will invoke public outrage.

As you can see, belonging to one or more category of privilege, especially being a straight, white, middle-class, able-bodied male, can be like winning a lottery you didn’t even know you were playing. But this is not to imply that any form of privilege is exactly the same as another, or that people lacking in one area of privilege understand what it’s like to be lacking in other areas. Race discrimination is not equal to sex discrimination and so forth.

And listen: Recognizing privilege doesn’t mean suffering guilt or shame for your lot in life. Nobody’s saying that straight, white, middle-class, able-bodied males are all a bunch of assholes who don’t work hard for what they have. Recognizing privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder just to experience the things you take for granted (if they ever can experience them at all).

I know now that I am privileged in many ways. I am privileged as a natural-born white citizen. I am privileged as a cisgender woman. I am privileged as an able-bodied person. I am privileged that my first language is also our national language, and that I was born with an intellect and ambition that pulled me out of the poverty that I was otherwise destined for. I was privileged to be able to marry my way “up” by partnering with a privileged, middle-class, educated male who fully expected me to earn a college degree.

There are a million ways I experience privilege, and some that I certainly don’t. But thankfully, intersectionality allows us to examine these varying dimensions and degrees of discrimination while raising awareness of the results of multiple systems of oppression at work.

Excerpts from –White privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh –

Thinking through unacknowledged male privilege as a phenomenon, I realized that, since
hierarchies in our society are interlocking, there are most likely a phenomenon of while privilege
that was similarly denied and protected. As a white person, I realized I had been taught about
racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see on of its
corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.
I think whites are carefully taught not to recognize white privilege, as males are taught not to
recognize male privilege. So I have begun in an untutored way to ask what it is like to have white
privilege. I have come to see white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets that I can
count on cashing in each day, but about which I was “meant” to remain oblivious. White
privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports,
codebooks, visas, clothes, tools , and blank checks.
Describing white privilege makes one newly accountable.

She further wrote-

I usually think of privilege as being a favored state, whether earned or conferred by birth or luck.
Yet some of the conditions I have described here work to systematically overempower certain
groups. Such privilege simply confers dominance because of one’s race or sex.
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
2. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure renting or purchasing housing in an area
which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
3. I can be pretty sure that my neighbors in such a location will be neutral or pleasant to me.
4. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed
or harassed.
5. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my
race widely represented.
6. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that
people of my color made it what it is.
7. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the
existence of their race.
8. If I want to, I can be pretty sure of finding a publisher for this piece on white privilege.
9. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a
supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with my cultural traditions, into a
hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
10. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work
against the appearance of financial reliability.
11. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like
them.
12. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people
attribute these choices to the bad morals,the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
13. I can speak in public to a powerful male group without putting my race on trial.
14. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
15. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
16. I can remain oblivious of the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the
world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
17. I can criticize our government and talk about how much I fear its policies and behavior
without being seen as a cultural outsider.
18. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to “the person in charge,” I will be facing a person
of my race.
19. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven’t
been singled out because of my race.
20. I can easily buy posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and
children’s magazines featuring people of my race.
21. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in,
rather than isolated, out-of-place, out numbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
22. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job
suspect that I got it because of race.
23. I can choose public accommodation without fearing that people of my race cannot get in
or will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
24. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
25. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or
situation whether it has racial overtones.
26. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in flesh color and have them more or less match
my skin.

I would encourage reading the two articles in full if you have not, and if you have, it is refreshing to read them again.

Also, don’t be like my Ex.

 

Facebook banned me for saying Men Are Trash

Facebook banned me for posting excerpts from my blog post, Men Are Trash, on my Facebook wall, and deleted the posts. Facebook thinks it is hate speech.

Some Facebook and Instagram users have reported similar experience; not surprising as Facebook owns Instagram. I Probably got reported by some random blokes whose very existence confirms that Men are Trash.

I decided to make the blog post into a YouTube video and share on Facebook.  I plan to download it on my Facebook as a video, no doubt it will get me banned again, cos, Men and their fragile ego! #MenAreTrash.

 

Related Links- 

Men Are Trash 

Everyday Sexism: Catcalls and Street Harassment  

#WivesNotCooks: RE “SO YOU WON’T COOK?”

I first saw the hashtag #WivesNotCook when a Facebook friend made a response post on it, which she titled “SO YOU WON’T COOK?”. When I read the post, right from the first paragraph, I cringed.  I wanted to ignore it as I have ignored most things Nigerian lately. However, the post has been shared many times on Facebook, mostly by Nigerian men, who are using it as a reference point to chide women who support the hashtag #WivesNotCooks. Many have even used it as a point to bash single women, single mothers, divorced women and blamed all woes imaginable on feminism.

The post and the comments it generated made me realise we really have a long way to go in educating even the educated about the meaning of feminism. I understand that sometimes when we don’t want to engage, we still owe it to posterity to engage on some issues. Hence, why I decided to write this response to dissect the post and point out the problems with it, as it relates to feminism.

14067659_10154421374501873_6548088197135927608_nFirstly, we must understand that anyone can be a feminist and everyone should be a feminist. It’s the decent, humane position to take on gender equalities.

I was so surprised that someone who self-identified as “an unapologetic feminist” starts her argument against the hashtag #wivesNotCooks with these remarks- [Read more…]

The First Time I Realised I was Black

I didn’t know I was black until I relocated to the UK in 2009 at the ripe old age of 34, before then, I thought I was just a human being.

Settling down in the UK, I quickly realised my skin colour mattered. It matters a lot.

I relocated to the UK in 2009 to study for my Post graduate degree in Law, specialising in Gender, Sexuality and Human rights.  Even though I had contemplated my gender, sexuality, globalisation and the catastrophic effects of unbridled capitalism, I had not given my skin colour much thought.

From the overt racism, which I encountered from the University Surgery GP, the subtle racism of some of my white lecturers (who ironically taught equality classes), the white co-workers who turned their noses up at my African accent, to the ‘behind the back’ racist stab by the white, female principal officer in my workplace, which cost me a much needed, very good job offer, I quickly realised that my skin colour mattered. [Read more…]

Celebrate Bisexual Visibility Day; Be BiVisible and BiFabulous!

September 23rd is Bisexuality Day, also known as Bi Visibility Day.  It’s Bi Visibility day today, I guess it is that one time of the year where I have to stop being so magically invisible and show myself in all my Unicorn glory; as a Bisexual!

Being Visible does come with its price, for example, I have to pay for things I bought in the stores today, cos well, I’m visible today. I have to bring out my oyster travel card and pay for bus, tubes and tram rides, like every other visible person cos I can’t ride for free today.  I get to be a visible B within the LGBT rainbow community today and I’d say, it’s worth it.

I know I am happy the LGBT community would at least recognise my existence today, it isn’t fun being that invisible B within the LGBT rainbow family all year long!

It sure does hurt when your own family fails to recognise you exist.  For example, a few days after marching and partying it up at the London Pride in Soho, I was at a swanky Sexual health clinic in Soho for my annual Sexual health check.  The place came highly recommended by an impressed friend I met at London Pride who was going on about how nice, easy and smooth the Sexual Health clinic in Soho was, so I decided to do my annual check there. [Read more…]

Just another random guy telling a woman what to do with her body

So, another guy decided to tell me what he wants me to do with my body to please his eyes. Never mind that i hardlyScreen-Shot-2014-10-29-at-11.09.03-AM knew him. Never mind that the few interactions i had with him on social media were about him as an African-American reaching out because he wanted a better understanding on some issues especially as it affects Africa and Africans. Never mind that i treated him with utmost respect, taking time to answer his questions and i thought the respect was mutual. But alas, he was just another man who refused to understand that telling a woman what to do with her body, to please their ‘manly gaze’, is just totally wrong.

Well, he decided to express his displeasure with my weight loss. He sent messages to my Facebook inbox , starting with a disgusted face sticker, cos well, words weren’t enough to express just how disgusted he was that i lost my ‘meaty’ figure! [Read more…]

UK Black Pride 2016: Transforming Our Community

UK Black Pride was held on Sunday 26, June 2016 at Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London, with the theme “Transforming Our Community”. It was a blast with positive vibrations, diversity and thousands of vibrant people.

It was such a joy to be at UK Black Pride, 2016. It was fun in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with lots of foods and drinks to share, great music, great dance steps, lots of twerking and yeah, sexy, lovely people! LGBT BMEs do know how to party!

13567103_10154262518301873_3650863585950096616_n13528676_10154262625656873_6214106336462660011_n

Did someone say Why Black Pride?” [Read more…]

5 Reasons Why We Still Celebrate Pride: London Pride 2016.

It was London pride 2016 on Saturday 25, June 2016. As usual, the annual LGBT Pride celebration 20160625_165734meant the streets of central London felt the colourful presence of LGBT Londoners and their allies.  Marching from Baker street, Regent street, Oxford street and well, Cockspurs street, all the way to Trafalgar square, the colourful parade brightened up the streets of London. Rainbow flags, beautiful floats, creative costumes, the energetic marchers and the large appreciative supporters who turned out en masse to cheer the parade along, all made for one very beautiful London Pride, 2016. And of course what would London Pride be without the very creative and beautiful drag queens? They were fabulous as always! They slayed in their beautiful costumes and creative makeups. The crowd were eager to take pictures with those divas.  And oh, there was even a sweet moment when a police man in the parade went on his knees to propose to his boyfriend!

This year’s Pride theme was NO FILTER. It encourages LGBTs to live life without filters. Just be you. There was a huge turnout. According to London Pride, an estimated 1 million people took part in the Pride and about 40,000 people marched in the parade, the largest so far in London Pride history.

The homophobic killings in Orlando was a rude and appalling reminder that homophobia is still very much alive [Read more…]

Online Dating: Serving up Choices and Confusion

Dating in this generation has a whole new meaning. It is all about choice or rather the illusion of choice, leading to confusion, pain, and a life wasted on swiping profiles for the next hit. This Facebook note by a Facebook friend, got me thinking about dating. As a single woman, i must say, i agree totally with his take on it. In this age of online dating, it is all about the illusion of choice and the uncertainty that comes with it. dating

Back when i was a teenager growing up in Nigeria, 20 something years ago, dating was not even a thing. You were either in a relationship with someone or you were not. It was straight to the relationship phase. Boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy asks girl, “Will you be my girlfriend?”, if girl likes boy, she plays coquettish long enough to not appear desperate, then says yes, and bingo, they are in a relationship. No dating as it is known today, no testing the waters, that was done at the ‘eyeing her/him up’ stage. The courtship stage did not normally involve alone time together. Maybe time with friends and families where you both sussed each other out, until one of you makes the move. [Read more…]

Planned Parenthood Clinic Shooting: Religious Assholes, Vile Politicians and Dipshit Media

In between the religions assholes causing havoc and the vile politicians eager to drop bombs on civilians, it is a CU5oEefUYAAkYmHwonder WW3 has not been officially declared!

I was out when I briefly saw the headlines for the Colorado shooting today; apparently, three people, including a police officer, have been confirmed dead and many more injured.

The shooter, now identified as Robert Lewis Dear, is a 57-year-old white man from North Carolina.

According to reports

“Lt. Catherine Buckley of the Colorado Springs Police Department said the gunman, described as wearing a long coat and armed with a rifle, gave up after officers inside the building shouted at him. He previously had been firing at police who entered the facility.

Buckley also said the unidentified man had brought “items” with him inside the building and left some outside, meaning officers had to make sure they were not “any kind of devices.”

“The man apparently began his deadly spree at the Planned Parenthood building, although it was not clear if his motive was related to the organization.

“We don’t have any information on this individual’s mentality, or his ideas or ideology,” Buckley said.

Interesting how they are not eager to jump to conclusions about this shooter’s ideas and ideology. This is white cis [Read more…]

8 Reasons “I’d Rather Be a Rebel than a Slave” on t-shirts for “Suffragette” is Wrong

When Time Out London invited the leading actresses of the new film, “Suffragette”, to be photographed for its October 2015 issue, they did not envisage the heated debate that ensued. The photoshoot featured the stars of the movie, Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, Romola Garai, and Anne-Marie Duff posing in t-shirts bearing Emmeline Pankhurst’s quote, “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” The appropriateness of the t-shirts message was called into question. Reactions to this debate have been very enlightening as well as disturbing. The photoshoot provided another opportunity to see white feminism in action and the reaction shows how difficult it is for feminists of colour to be heard in a visibly white world.

Mary Rozzi

Mary Rozzi

Below are 8 reasons why the quote on the t-shirts is inappropriate, insensitive and offensive as a promotional material for a 21st century film that seeks to promote equality.

1- Not everyone has the luxury of choosing between being a slave or a rebel

My ancestors were humans who were carted off from Africa and made slaves in foreign lands. They did not have12108275_10153653732906873_381376419150408220_n the luxury of choosing between being a rebel or being a slave. No one would “rather be a slave”. Many of them were rebels but this did not save them from being slaves. They did not just hand themselves over to their captors. They did not just roll over and decided to live the slave life. They did not choose to be separated from their families and land of births.

Captivity was forced on them. Slavery was forced on them. Many were born into slavery. Being a rebel in the sense of organising protests and speeches under police protection and throwing animal blood at their fancily dressed “Masters” were not options available to them.

However, the fact that millions of my ancestors died as slaves in foreign lands did not mean that many of them were not rebels. There were rebellions on the slave ships. Many died with their rebellion stories that will never be told. [Read more…]

My Birthday Dance and Musings: Already Loving my 40s!

I am grateful for four amazing decades on planet earth. I am eagerly looking forward to new challenges and more20150816_141924 resised ftb jpg amazing experiences in the coming years!

I am especially looking forward to starting a new job as a union organiser with one of the largest trade unions in UK. I missed being a full time trade unionist and I am so looking forward to working with union activists and organising workers again!

I started working for the labour movement in my early twenties and with the responsibility of fighting for workers’ rights came many opportunities to see the world from different angles. The views can be very depressing especially when it comes to class stratification, oppression, exploitation of labour, crass capitalism and its uneven division of wealth built on the backs of the long-suffering majority who toil every day to earn a living wage but never get to enjoy the wealth created by their labour. However, sometimes the view can be very exhilarating, especially when the voiceless find their voices through union organising, and against all odds, conquer to achieve great successes, fuelled by strength in unity and propelled by hope in a better tomorrow, while demanding for a better today. The last few years of my 30s were pretty challenging, mostly due to having to start afresh in a new, unfamiliar environment as a single parent with a teenage son who was about to enrol in college. I did not plan to be an immigrant in UK or anywhere else, but sometimes, even though we have our life already neatly planned, circumstances beyond our control could force us to depart from our schedule.

Leaving behind a comfortable life and job security to start afresh in a strange land was not an easy decision to make. [Read more…]

Five Assumptions We Should Avoid Making

I was working out at my gym when two gym regulars decided to strike up a conversation with me.

Gym regular (Male) – You have lost a lot of weight

Gym regular (Female) -Yeah, I told her so too.

Me – Oh, yeah, thanks, the hard work is showing.

Gym regular (Male) – I am sure your husband will be happy

Me – I don’t have a husband. I am single

Gym Regulars – What, you mean you are single? [Read more…]

I Am Beautiful and I know It

It is so cringeworthy when people tell me i am beautiful and I accept it at face value with a nod to my own beauty but as a reward they want me to grovel at their feet or expect I say something self-devaluing like  “Oh no, you are just being nice, I am not all that.” Of course, i am all that and much more too, thanks for the observation!

I woke up this morning to this awesome video by Daysha Edewi titled “What If I Knew I Was Beautiful”. My fb friend had commented on the video on Facebook and tagged me and I went, “OMG, this video is so me!” [Read more…]

Serena Williams: Racism, Sexism and the Champion

Serena Williams gave us another ‪‎Serenaslam. She is unarguably one of the greatest of all times. At 33, when most men and women champions are catching their retirement cheques, Serena Williams is saying ‘You aint seen anything yet!’ Serena Williams is at her best ever and she is here to stay. What an inspirational athlete!

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The Williams sisters not only changed the face of Tennis, they took it to a higher level. In a game where racism still unashamedly rears its ugly head, where sexism and beauty stereotypes mean the best athlete who happens to be black, gets less endorsement deals than the white blonde she has dominated for years, one cannot but admire the determination of the Williams sisters to excel in their game. Their many victories are inspirational and legendary.

We cannot ignore the racism the Williams sisters have faced over the years in a game that is predominantly white and traditionally elitist. [Read more…]