How To Be Less White This Christmas

Really!? What a silly idea, that a white person can be less white, it doesn’t even make sense. I mean, if I’m white, I’m white, it’s just the colour of my skin. But in my 199th post on this blog I want to contend that there is so much more to my whiteness than my skin. Whiteness is power. It’s the ability to avoid everyday microaggressions based on my perceived race, it’s being able to cash in on my white privilege over and over again, and avoid being on the receiving end of systemically racist social structures. It’s the privilege to never have to think about my skin colour. I don’t even have to know I’m white because in the society I live in whiteness is so ‘normal’ that it’s almost invisible.

But I do see race, including my own. I see whiteness in so many of the TV shows and films I watch. I see it in the books I read, the communities I spend time in and the culture in which I live. I see the everyday things I get to take for granted because I am part of the oppressor race. I see the effort, often tacit, that goes into maintaining the normativity of whiteness. The scientific justifications that claim whites are inherently better than any other race. The everyday assumptions that are made about people with different skin colours to my own. The ease with which I can enter spaces that others can’t. The violence I won’t be on the receiving end of because I’m white. I see this and I want it to change because it’s ruining lives and killing people.

So, to be less white I have to first acknowledge that I am white and begin the process of discovering what that really means. Because it’s not just about skin, it’s about history, colonialism, slavery, Empire, racism, eugenics, prisons, schools, culture and so much more. It’s about the power my race has abused and continues to abuse. But seeing and acknowledging this is only the beginning and the true work begins when white people begin to redistribute that power. Of course, how we redistribute that power is vital because there are an awful lot of initiatives that serve only to replicate the colonial mindset and exacerbate the problem. The response must be personal and systemic, as we unpick our whiteness for ourselves and do so for the systems in which we live and work – whether that’s challenging our own prejudices, calling out those around us and trying to build communities that both see and see beyond race. Thus, we begin to remove the power woven into our very skin and, by doing so, become less white.

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The Unhappy Tomato

She was just your average tomato: red, rosy and often in good cheer. She loved living in the vegetable aisle. She had lots of friends – the carrots, who liked having a laugh; the outspoken aubergines, who always stood up for each other; the kind courgettes and even the cabbages. She didn’t get on well with the leeks, who were often the bullies of the aisle, but other than that she felt at home. It was a great supermarket as well because vegetables were the top priority and there weren’t that many fruits at all because the store manager didn’t like them. But that didn’t bother tomato and she was happy as she was, until the day she discovered something very important – that she was different – she wasn’t a vegetable after all, she was actually a fruit.

All along she’d been in the wrong aisle and now she was worried about telling her friends. Fruits were always the butt of the vegetables’ jokes and many veggies actively hated fruits, sometimes the potatoes would go round the fruit aisle and beat up a bunch of grapes. She told some of her closest friends and whilst one got all upset the others were supportive of her. But that still wasn’t enough so, one night, she snuck away and went to find the fruits. She didn’t regret it – she met strawberries, bananas, oranges and grapes, and had an absolutely great time as well as making a bunch of new friends. However, as time went by she realised that not all was well in the fruit aisle. Underneath the smiles and the peels she discovered that many of the fruits were damaged and bruised, it turned out being a fruit in a vegetable’s supermarket wasn’t so great after all. She even discovered that many fruits had given themselves up to become juice because they couldn’t take it any more. And so the happy tomato became decidedly unhappy.

Then a new store manager arrived who hated fruits even more than the last and it got quite dangerous for the tomato and her new friends. Nevertheless, they bandied together and prepared themselves for tough times ahead. But the thing that really broke the tomato’s heart was that when she went to visit the vegetable aisle, to see her old friends, they just weren’t that interested. They were so caught up living their veggie lives that they’d never really stopped to consider what it must be like to be a fruit. She tried hanging out with them but the carrots kept cracking jokes about bananas and the auberinges kept going on about how much they hated grapefruits. The friendly parsnip didn’t mind but didn’t really get it either, he even called her his BFF – Best-Fruit-Friend, which pissed her off no end.  And so it dawned on her that whilst she’d been on a long journey from the vegetable to the fruit aisle and made so many new friends, learnt so many new things and had a whole punnet of ace experiences, there were many that hadn’t been on the journey. Something had changed for the tomato and whilst she still had time for her veggie friends she no longer felt quite at home in a vegetable’s world.

https://i1.wp.com/ni.lovefoodhatewaste.com/sites/files/lfhw/image/Tomato.jpg

 

 

 

Anal Sex(ism)

I posted a while back on the anus and I am going to do it again because anal sexism is rife. It hides in plain sight in our everyday language and we don’t even know it’s there. Once upon time ‘gay’ was just a pejorative adjective we casually used, not thinking that it undermined and tokenised a whole community, permitted violence to be perpetrated against said community whilst also undermining our own lives and the freedoms we could enjoy. We now know better. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to anal sex.

“He’s such a brown noser.” You know, that terrible person who’s always trying to impress the boss or sidle into each social clique. The idea that putting your nose near someone’s anus is disgusting and befit only of sycophants and losers. “Just go shove it up your arse.” Yeah, you, that person with terrible views and an irritatingly loud voice. Go on, “stick it where the sun don’t shine” because only people we don’t like do things like that, nothing worse than putting something in your anus, amirite. “Ugh, their head is so far up their own arse.” They’re just so arrogant, so self-obsessed, so selfish, so self-absorbed, and naturally all those states of being need to link to the anus, that grim place where terrible things happen and with which we should only associate the bad.

Many of us use these common phrases without a second thought but what we might not realise is that they denigrate a whole host of people who enjoy anal sex. They denigrate the men who like men who like bum sex. They denigrate the women who enjoy anal and are probably already getting enough flack for it. They scare the questioning and the curious who are tempted but worried exploring the anus will make them ‘look gay’ or land them a whole host of ridicule and bullying. And they affect you too, the sayer of such seemingly simple phrases because they belie your fear, your ignorance and your prejudice. That’s not to say you’re a nasty person, of course not, I bet you’re really nice, but you live in this society after all which is so interwoven with prejudice and phobia. It’s probably woven into you as well and you hadn’t even noticed.

And finally, perhaps most obviously yet insidiously, there’s the most famous phrase of all: “Stop being so anal.” It’s blunt, isn’t it. It’s not circumnavigating the issue, it’s a direct order to stop being deviant because deviance is bad and deviance gets persecuted, bullied and beaten. Don’t do that, just be normal and stop being so anal. Stick to conventional sex, recondition yourself and we’ll let you fit in. No, I don’t like the sound of that one bit, I’ll be anal if I want to be. So next time, catch yourself as you say it or stop yourself in advance. Say something else, use the vast vocabulary of the English language and stop permitting persecution and prejudice. And, yeah, I get it, you’re not a bigot and you are a good person but that doesn’t give you carte blanche with your language. Freedom of speech isn’t just a right, it’s a responsibility. Use it well and leave the bum well alone (unless you’re going to sing its praises).

Bums
A great gallery of male bums from ohnips – http://ohnips.deviantart.com