I am writing this from a place of anger and frustration and love. Anger and frustration because what I know needs to be done is not being done, because violence is happening everywhere, and because here at Macalester we lie and say that we are working against it. At Macalester we talk about structural racism in classrooms and on panels, but never about the racism in us, between us and by us. Our norm is to ignore the immediacy of racialized state violence in our city and to obsess with instances of injustice in distant cities. Our real struggles of the mind and heart are directed at academic papers and the abstract future. We obsess with looking externally as opposed to internally. Everyone has uncomfortable but vital questions we carry within us and yet even in our “progressive-liberal haven” we are afraid of speaking them out loud. Stop lying. Be a human, and give yourself permission to be scared, feel pain, feel rage, ask questions and be and do wrong.
In this ethic of sharing our truths, I am feeling and writing from love because I have to. My love is no longer innocent or blind; it is a love of struggle, a pride in resistance and it is complicated and all over the place. But I cannot lose my love, for then I would lose my sense of self in the struggle. I would be all work and no play, no reflection, no agency.
It’s time to break these norms. We are naming and breaking white liberal racism on campus. This article is part of a renewed push by myself and some other student organizers (y’all are luminous by the way) to engage in racial justice work at Mac. At 12 p.m. on Wednesday during lunch in Café Mac, these norms began to rupture. Anti-racism organizers, myself among them, disrupted Macalester life and shared stories revealing the intimate ways they are affected by and implicated in racist behaviors and thoughts. If you did not witness this action, the next chance to plug into our transformative work is Sunday from 12:00-2:00 p.m. upstairs in the Campus Center. We will provide facilitated spaces based on identities as White and POC to confront internalized and colorblind racism and heal from its effects in our lives.
I very intentionally said that we are renewing the push for racial justice at Mac. We are not starting it and here are a few of the reasons why:
1) We are not the first ones to call for Mac students to intimately examine how systems of domination such as racism affect our daily lives. We are the next in a long and powerful line.
2) The work has never stopped. There are currently people working and living in resistance to racism on campus. We honor that.
One of the best banners I’ve seen at an anti-racist protest said, “We’re not starting a race war, we’re trying to end one.” Our work on campus is going to be messy and personal. But racism is here at Macalester whether or not we confront it, so it is better to speak.
In this article I’ve used the terms rage, anger, pain, racism, violence, police brutality, lying and internalized racism. At some point you will hear phrases like white supremacy, complicity, personal stake in racism, privilege, white fragility and internalized racial superiority/inferiority. You might be called a racist. Any of these words might be delivered with calmness or with rage, impersonally or judgmentally. I beg you to look past your ego, past your own judgments and be honest with yourself. Truly reflect on how racism plays a role in your life. How do you benefit? How do you perform racism? How do you hurt other people? Perhaps most importantly, how does racism hurt you?
You will find things about yourself that you are not happy with. Thank you for being human. Do not get hung up on judging yourself. We have all lived our whole lives in a white supremacist world (there’s that term!) built by racism. It would be a miracle if anyone — White, Black, Asian, Latinx, Indigenous, mixed, ANYONE — had managed to avoid the influence of racism. I can admit here and need to continue to admit that I, as a mixed-race person, benefit from historical white privilege on my mom’s side, perform racism against other POC and do not do enough to fight white supremacy. Racism is in all of us. And while it may be there to stay, we can make a lot of progress in challenging and living against it.
I want to end this on a message of love. My anger and rage are still with me, but just writing this out and knowing it will be read has helped. I love each and every one of you. POC you are beautiful/mighty/fully human.