Antiracism is not Anti-white. Fact.
I had always planned to write this piece tonight, having recently witnessed a raft of white people spewing the same old accusation of “You’re anti-white” whenever anyone talks about black rights, antiracism, or BLM. By sad coincidence, about one hour ago I read a BBC article about the racist abuse that Krystina Arielle, the host of Star Wars: The High Republic Show, received after she tweeted about white people’s role in upholding racism. Lo-and-behold, some white people got all upset. And, predictably, without any sense of irony, they responded with the own actual displays of vulgar racism:
The phrase “Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white” became popular among white supremacists in mid-2000s. According to the ADL website, it is derived from a short essay commonly referred to as “The Mantra”, popularised by long-time white supremacist Bob Whitaker, and it claims that anti racists are actually trying to destroy the white race. The rise in far right and nationalist identities has coincided with the BLM movement gaining awareness and momentum and, as such, this phrase seems to be rearing its ugly, stupid head again.
We still live in a world where white people continue to face more advantages and less discrimination than any other race.
This claim is, of course, completely unsubstantiated and, instead, it only serves to demonstrate white insecurities. A journal from Nature published in 2019 entitled “Questioning White Losses and anti-white discrimination in the United States” compared perceptions of racial discrimination with reported discrimination experiences. They concluded that white people consistently experienced less discrimination than black people and, overall, improvements for black people do not seem to coincide with disadvantages for white people. If white people feel threatened by the advances of black people, they shouldn’t. We still live in a world where white people continue to face more advantages and less discrimination than any other race. Indeed, if a person feels threatened by anti racists, it can surely only be because they, themselves, are racist.
What white supremacists often refuse to acknowledge is that, despite their beliefs, white people hold all the power. While antiracists from all walks of life try to fight for improved equity for all races, white supremacists either knowingly fight against this, for fear that they lose out and face the same disadvantages as others, or they deny it altogether, and come to absurd conclusion that white people are already losing out, despite every single piece of evidence proving the contrary.
Robin Diangelo writes about this insecurity in her bestselling book, White Fragility. It’s worth pointing, for reasons that become clear when reading the quote, that Diangelo is white:
For those of us who work to raise the racial consciousness of whites, simply getting whites to acknowledge that our race gives us advantages is a major effort. The defensiveness, denial, and resistance are deep.
Whenever I read responses, such as those deplorable ones above accusing someone of being anti-white, I either think about that person’s denial or their insecurity. They either have the resources to be aware of racism but are in denial because their privilege offers them advantages they do not want to acknowledge. Or they are susceptible to white supremacist language and feel genuinely threatened and insecure. They may be unaware of their relatively beneficial position in society, genuinely ignorant to all the facts. Whether the anti-white brigade exist because of denial, insecurity, or both, their belief is real, harmful, and must be challenged.
In Ibram X. Kendi’s thoroughly excellent book How to be an Antiracist, he discusses black spaces and asserts that if black people consciously congregate together it will not be from whites but from white racism. He goes on:
Whenever black people voluntarily gather among themselves, integrationists do not see spaces of black solidarity... They see spaces of white hate.
As soon as someone in a position of power exposes racism, or talks about the history of racism, they have to endure the swathes of abuse from those who would rather remain ignorant to facts. TV Botanist, James Wong; Historian, David Olusoga; F1 driver Lewis Hamilton; tennis star, Serena Williams and footballer, Marcus Rashford are all very recent examples of celebrities using their platform to challenge or expose uncomfortable truths who have then had to endure the sad, inevitable backlash from defensive white supremacists. Stormzy even felt like he had to defend his scholarships for black students in his 2019 song The Crown: “Bruddas wanna break me down, I can't take it; I done a scholarship for the kids, they said it's racist; That's not anti-white, it's pro-black; Hang me out to dry, I won't crack”. Note that all of the above examples are BAME people. If white supremacists harbour hatred for antiracists, they reserve their most egregious and uneducated attacks for non-white people.
The year-on-year rise in hate crime is mostly race hate towards People of Colour and it is of no coincidence that the rise in racism is proportional to the rise in antiracism. As antiracism gains momentum, racists ramp up their defensiveness and counter-attacks. It reminds me of the backlash that women received after the #metoo movement. When women publicly reported their experiences of sexual harassment men claimed that society had become anti-men, in the same way racists reports that society is becoming anti-white. The privileged intersection of white men who are neither antiracist, nor feminist, have their biased views challenged when suppressed communities speak out.
What shouldn't have to be said is that all People of Colour want is equality. They want the same access, the same resources, the same representation, the same opportunities and the same treatment as white people. Not more. White people who spout the same old drivel about anti-whiteness need to try and look at an issue through a black lens. This anti-white rhetoric is simply untrue. It is propaganda designed to polarise. And those who cannot exhibit the empathy necessary to recognise racial struggles are too preoccupied thinking about their own lives. We all saw selfishness, superiority and self-righteousness play out when white supremacists stormed the Capitol building earlier this month.
Humanity, in short, does not need this selfishness. It needs, and therefore everyone benefits from, empathy. Let’s show compassion. Let's listen. Let’s call out hatred.