Why I no longer argue about racism (Part 1)

These days I rarely challenge white people who dispute matters related to white privilege, oppression or racism. I simply let them be. Often, this means letting them feel intellectually superior and comfortable in their uncritical notions of objectivity. It is not because I could not debunk their naive or pseudo-rationalism and sometimes plainly illogical arguments. But…the emotional labour is really not worth it. And, there are simply too many more important things I must do with my time and energy. Life is short. I do not intend on wasting another single moment of it entertaining bigotry dressed as reason.

I no longer challenge white people who dispute white privilege because I really don’t feel the need. I don’t feel I need to convince anyone when it comes to matters of my subjugation or make a case that white privilege is my oppression. I do not seek to change people’s mind. Some have a hard time understanding this… arguing would be making my existence and my lived reality subject to agreement, disagreement or approval from those whose very existence and sense of self, is still rooted in the erasure of the violence they inflict upon me. I do not need for people to agree that it hurts to know that it hurts. It is enough that I feel that it does. Life is short. I have no intention of denying my wounds to protect or lick someone else’s. I’ve chosen to centre my pain and that of other marginalised bodies. Have no doubt that this is a political act.

I have stopped challenging people who deny oppression because inter-rater reliability is really not necessary for me to accept the validity of my lived experience. I trust it. And, I will speak it. I’ve learnt that doing so is central to my liberation and perhaps that of others too. That it is central to carving out spaces where I can simply exist for me and not for others. Contrary to what society seeks to enforce onto me and onto those whose bodies were meant to make space for others. But life is short. And I want some space. We need to breathe too. There’s enough room for us all.

If I was to seek to evidence that my lived experience is legitimate, I would simply find myself constantly dragged into a battle of will and of power. I would sink into a world of violent denial or hostility where the only possible way out would be accepting that those who have no notion of what it is to live in a body gendered as female and racialised as black, have equal, if not better apprehension, of reality. Since there is only one reality, theirs. I would need to accept being schooled on the inaccuracy of my ‘perceptions’ so that the latter can be realigned more closely with a reality that is not mine, as though reality was independent of the person who experience it. And in truth, I have no time for that. I have no interest in being a perpetual child.

I no longer challenge people on racism because I know my experience will indeed eventually be framed as ‘perception’. And that to frame lived experience as perception is not a neutral act. It is one of the most common way marginalised and/or painful experiences are invalidated or trivialised because they are inconvenient. It is a speech act. It is a silencing act. If you doubt that, simply pay attention to whose experience is usually defined as ‘perception’ and whose become naturalised, objectivised and legitimised. In other words, what challenges the interests of dominant groups is always a matter of perception. Always.

These are the games power plays. But life is too short for silly games. And, I will not hand over the power I have to define the world and to use whatever language I see fit. I no longer argue with white people who deny racism because in a world that seeks to erase you and your experience choosing to self-define and to name your reality is imposing your existence.

Thank you for reading.

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  1. A wise choice not to waste your time on those who cannot, or choose not, to hear, Guilaine. I hope you continue to share what you know, as you so eloquently do on your blog, with people who listen and need to hear what you have to say. I send my love ❤

  2. Read this with intrigue. As a disempoweted white obvious looking lesbian, i too have had my experiences denied. Currently on a section two in a paychiatric ward for reacting against the bigotry of my neighbours, again, it gives me hope that when i do eventually get out of here, i can use my creative imagination to write stories that will explore such violent interruptions to people’s lives, no matter what race. Thank you for this article. It is helping me form my stragedy on how to get out of hospital by using the oppresors language to play the game of life to win, ultimately…

    1. Thank you very much for your lovely message. If this article has been of some use and/or comfort on your journey, then I am really glad. Take good care, hope you’re getting the support & care you need. I look forward to reading some of your writing when you’re able to commit your story to paper.

  3. Realised i didn’t give credit to your journalistic skills at explaining this problem. Aware i have certain priveleges to do with my white skin and the ‘supremist ideology’that goes with that.

    Coming at this from a different angle. Creatively. And as a female singer of colour from my past sang:- ‘louder’implying using creativity and social media together can get voices and stories heard. Thanks for this article as it has given me a few ideas on how to dramatise such matters. Not in the same league as Alice Walker’s ‘The colour purple’, she being middle class and educated, but at my own level i am hoping to explore themes that others of my ilk can relate to…. Every brick that tumbles is one for victory for all..

    1. Hi, it’s more than enough that you stopped by and took the time to read and share a little bit of you. This really means a lot. I think our experiences of the world would obviously be different because of our our differing racial background/social locations but I also think we have much in common as marginalised women, perhaps this is why the post resonated with you. Thank you. And again I look forward to savouring the fruits of your creativity, I have a feeling I won’t be disappointed…

  4. Dear Sir,

    I am very touched that you would take the time to post such necessary insight both because what YOU think about marginalised lives is so vitally important to me and, because so few people with the calibre of your intelligence ever enlighten me. Racists are of course scientists, that is fact.

    Warmest regards.

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