With the drama around the Oscars controversy and the pretty terrible things some have said about it, I thought it would be a good idea to write a post to help people who do not see the effects of racial inequality understand why it matters, even to you.
So, if you’d like to know why, dear white reader with zero personal stake in racial equality, you should still really really care about it nonetheless, read on!
You might have someone impacted by this in your life
So you don’t really know anyone of colour closely. They don’t hang in your social circle, work in your office, or attend the same furry orgies. Our society is still pretty segregated, so that isn’t surprising. But someone that you do care about may well have a POC in their life. Love is selfish, and making the people you love happy the most selfish thing you can do. One of the best ways to do that is to support the people they love.
You might be getting screwed yourself
If you don’t see racial inequality, it’s actually pretty easy to pretend it doesn’t exist. Well, the great thing about privilege is that if you exist, there’s probably someone out there that wants all your shit (a minor oversimplification). Before I saw racial profiling for myself, I just used my experiences with sexism and anti-semitism to understand the feeling of marginalization, even if it isn’t exactly the right one. Fun fact, if you support people when they are being screwed, they’re more likely to come to your aid when you’re being screwed.
You might get to know your value
If you’re like me, you like knowing that you’ve earned the stuff you have. That job, that degree, that special person, that level 2 druid that nearly died in a damn rain storm because Pathfinder is hard and lightning is scary. The bummer with racial inequality is that it robs you of that knowledge. Leo will forever wonder if he really won that Oscar, or if he won it because Idris Elba failed the pigment test, and considering how long it took him to scale that mountain, that must sting extra hard. I want to be better than everyone for real, I don’t want my skin cheating for me.
You can let go of that guilt you’re holding on to
The uncomfortable knowledge that your ancestors did unspeakable things to the ancestors of people around you who continue to suffer the residual effects of a system that saw them as less than human. Thing is – guilt is as useless as a pair of fingerless gloves. They don’t keep you warm and you do NOT look cool in them. Instead, acknowledge your privilege. You have no control over the crap of yesterday, but you can learn about all the beautiful people who have made a mark on our history but were sadly absent from classrooms. You can speak up when someone spews racist bullshit about importing rapists and terrorists, or just not say anything when an established fictional character is cast as a POC. You can hipster it up by supporting small local businesses run by POC. Or actually get active with a local rights group. That’s totally an option.
You never know who you will love
Sure, you’ve got no one special that falls into that category now, but life is long. Ten years ago, I was barely on speaking terms with any POC. My school was super white and it was really easy to find fellow neurotic Jews to recite Monty Python sketches with. Now, literally my entire heart and soul is a man of colour, and when he gets stopped at the border or asked if he had an arranged marriage, it feels like a stab to my fucking heart. Adding my voice to the demands for equality is something I do to protect myself from that pain, and the years that I failed to do so haunt me.
So don’t wait. Learn what it takes to be an ally now. Future You will thank you.