…therefore it must be true.”
Among whites and also among “anti-racist” whites there are many wrong perceptions about People of Color.
People of Color are sometimes idealized close to saints with wisdom grown out of suffering and there is the phrase “white allies have to follow the lead of PoC”.
Again this lays a burden on People of Color, a extra burden in a society of white supremacy.
The problem of white allies is that they take PoC fighting against racism for granted. The expectation, directly or indirectly, that PoC will “automatically” figth against racism because it is in their best interest.
Another and more troubling belief by whites is that PoC remain uneffected by the negative impact of white supremacy, as if they live in a vacuum. The video “A girl like me” shows, that some or many Black children have to go through their own struggles and that white supremacy leaves it scars.
The system of white supremacy is so successful in terms of expansion and persistence because it also occupies the victims of it.
“The West initially set out to conquer the world with the might of its Roman armies, but the lesson they soon learned was that building an empire was not a matter of military superiority alone; it was necessary to impose culture as well […] By far the most powerful of European cultural contact and change in Africa has been the Christian Church. […]
The attack was cultural, aimed at the spirit and self-esteem of the African, entities that had been held firmly in tact by a cohesive communal organization. Christianity appealed to the outcasts in order to subvert the solidarity and integrity of the society. It was individualistic, not communalistic like African spiritual conceptions. […] ‘The school was the most important instrument of Christian missionary work in Africa’. Children entered missionary schools only to cut ties with their families and with their traditional rituals and rites of passage; i.e. those institutions that had given Africans such a deep sense of security and identity. Africans were forced to change their names in order to become good Christians – docile, humble and obedient.
Speaking African languages was discouraged, while imitating Europe was encouraged; including Europe’s material culture.
This situation led to the development of a sense of insecurity and inferiority in Africans, marked by a simple process of the loss of identity and of independence in the most traumatic manner. …. For this group [the Europeans], the bulk of the Africans represented a despicable lower level of creatures, with obnoxious religious and social habits who must not be tolerated around the precincts of decent homes.
Soon the “educated” Africans would be taught to think these things about their own people. They could the be used to “lead”. Africans were considered to be “half child, half devil”. But “Christ” was a white man; the saints were white; the missionaries were white.”
Clearly, it has been the evil political genius of the West, since the beginnings of European imperialism, to cencentrate its efforts on the cultural and therefore ideological destruction of the people it conquered.” (Yurugu pgs 427-428 by Marimba Ani)
As a white this means that one will also meet PoC who defend their own oppression. Who will defend “good” white people for whatever reason they may have and as irritating this may be sometimes. This is the “invisible” legacy of white supremacy.
Many whites like to decorate themselves with non-white friends and insist that their Black friends would have no problem with being called the N-word, that a Turkish best friend said this and that and therefore it is true for all Turkish people etc. Many white people even don’t realize their own racism in interracial friendships or partnerships.
For white anti-racists there should be one thing very clear: Are they looking for non-white praise or do they want to deconstruct white supremacy? Are they able to acknowledge the humanity of somebody else with all facets or are they only able to see the parts they want to see?
Are they able and willing to realize that also some People of Color are like white liberals “peace-keepers”, people who don’t want to provoke white people?