Through the last few weeks of reading and discussion, I’ve come to understand something that I believe to be such an important take-away from this class.
I think before joining this class, I always thought of creating a more equal society being a matter of raising the status or increasing the privileges of those seen as less privileged in society: women, POC, people who identify as LGBTQI+, etc. And, to be honest, I had a difficult time understanding how I was to do my part.
However, more recently I have come to understand how important it is that white people not necessarily work to increases others privileges, but work to decrease our own privileges. As Didi Delgado writes in “Whites Only: SURJ and the Caucasian Invasion of Racial Justice Spaces”, “if you are an ally, you should be losing things through your activism; space, voice, recognition, validation, identity, ego.” I think this idea is somewhat difficult to accept, but white people cannot keep the power in society we currently hold and somehow expect to raise the status of others to be alongside us. There needs to be a loss of white voice in order for the voices of POC to be heard.
I am not saying this is easy or simply. It will undoubtably be uncomfortable for white people. And it should be. White people need to consider our actions and choice of words in order to understand when we are exercising our privileges. Often we need to shut our mouths and open our ears. We have talked for too long and for too long we have spoken for others.
People may see this sort of relinquishing of privileges as some sort of selfless sacrifice. However, I believe that if we truly care about racial equality, we will all gain so much when we see how relinquishing privileges affects the greater community.