The social media hoo-ha on Veitola – Heiniö (who blocked me) racist marketing text on Moroccan culture while praising white woman on bossladyness living in Morocco while stereotyping the culture based on one white woman experience got me frustrated. The conversation started by Jasmina Amzil (Ruskeat tytöt) led to nowhere because white women took the professional criticism as a personal attack. I have been those women. I have learnt, opened my eyes and I am still not perfect. I keep on learning so I decided to share my experience when being called out.
What to do when being called out on white saviorism, white fragility, white privilege, racism, stereotyping, pseudo-pacifism, white feminism or whitewash
- take a breath, calm down, don’t reply until your pulse is normal. You might feel attacked. None of us WANTS to be called racists.
We have been taught that only form of racisms is “hating black people”, that you have to be supporter of extreme right winged parties, supporting visible discrimination or deportation or even violence against POC (people pf color). White people who accept POC living among white people quietly (seeing them in the streets, workplace and schools) like to think they could never be racist because they are ok with POC living in our society. This composition itself is racist. it puts POC and white people in different value categories and only accepts POC in white terms.
2. Remember good manners. When a person criticizes you, there is a reason for it. What is that reason? If your friend tells you you hurt them, you most likely take a minute to reflect your actions.
When I was first called out for silencing and pseudo-pacifism when twerk scene was criticized for cultural appropriation I took it as a personal attack. I was living in my safe white world and of course identified myself as feminist, never could I be a racist; I vote left and I’m all for equal rights for everyone. I thought that “girl power” is feminism. I was called out on using “no hate, peace” in the end of the sentence for silencing. I got a lot of feedback but what took me further was the fact that I maintained my cool and was open to conversation.
3. Listen and be open to education
It’s a talent to hear someone out who talks about things you don’t necessarily agree with in the first place but give them space. Make them feel respected in the conversation, that’s the least you can do. I thought when being called out that in order to live by my morals I need to show my critiques the same respect I require from them. I took a step back and listened. I had a real conversation. I asked because I wanted to learn. Every white woman needs to consider white fragility as the same as male fragility. When you criticize a man for acting sexist or harassing and they tell you “You can’t do anything anymore without being called a pig.” and that’s true. Men need to re-adapt their reality and realize there is no fucking with us anymore but the same goes with POC. White people need to wake up and realize we need to re-educate and re-adapt to a new reality. We are being criticized because POC are not done and they have a voice and they are powerful. We need to humble down and let the criticism in.
4. Take a second to reflect yourself
I had an idea of myself. I had an idea of my identity and of course it takes energy and time from your everyday life to actually ask yourself: Am I actually treating everyone equally? Am I understanding what true equality means? Could it actually be that I have acted racist in this situation? But I am telling you it’s so worth it. It took a while for me to realize that wow me being racist or sink into white fragility does not make me a horrible person because I did not know any different. This world was new to me. That’s when I realized that white supremacy is real and I am the one who puts it into action. It’s systematic, I had been exposed to it my whole life and I decided to learn more and start doing my all to educate myself.
5.Don’t expect all human rights fighters to be Jesuses or Ghandis
I was confronted for telling my critiques “not to spread hate and focus in good vibes only”. This is the textbook example of pseudo-pacifism: telling human rights fighters and activists to “calm down” because change is only accepted when done peacefully in a Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King like manners. Accept the fact that anger is a part of a person having to live in a racist world. Anger is present when being systematically discriminated. I hate every time a man tells me to calm down in my feminist speech or tells me I should try and talk more calmly or otherwise he will not listen. This again is silencing, a power move when you set the tone suitable for you, you use your power to throw off your critique. Let us use the tone we want. Once you accept the anger, you are already part of the solution, not the problem.
6. Don’t take criticism on white saviorism, white fragility, white supremacy, white privilege or racism as a personal attack
I don’t blame white people for not knowing how black people feel in this world. I don’t blame you for not knowing modern racism in all it’s forms because we have been taught that racism is colonialism, apartheid and slavery in their original forms. I blame white people not wanting to learn, educate themselves, open their eyes and change the world for the better. You are racist. There’s a racist bias in each and every one of us, it’s programmed in us. Now what are you going to do about it? Change hurts. Learning is never easy but you have to be open to it. Re-reflecting your actions and maybe learning from them is all POC want. They don’t want to humiliate you, that’s not in anyone’s agenda. “We are all in this together” is not silencing POC, we are all in this together once when being called out we actually humble down, reflect, change our behavior and apologize.
7. Apologize when behaving racist
It’s that simple. When a man harasses you before #metoo they didn’t think that commenting your looks might be considered harassment. after #metoo when you tell a man that hey that comment is harassment, if he apologizes and you see genuine regret and the fact he did not understand that it was too much, you see respect for your boundaries, it’s a step forward. We need the same from us white women when being called out on white fragility, underrating or stereotyping another culture or culturally appropriating. Apologize, reflect and re-adapt.
8. Learn to live with the fact your opinion as a white (woman) is not always needed in this conversation. No one needs your lectures. How would you feel if a man would lecture you on feminism?