Sarah King


I Can't Breathe - Artwork by Charlotte Patterson

Thoughts from our co-founder Sarah, who is White British:


This movement has made me have some very interesting conversations; Being White.

 

I don’t think I’ve ever called myself white. I’ve never needed to refer to myself as a ‘white person’ and that in itself is a privilege. I don’t even ever need to take a minute to think about my skin colour. My skin colour doesn’t need explaining, justifying or defending. Being white does not have any obstacles. My son will not face hardship solely because he is white.  I know a decent enough amount of my histories to know that white has been systematically driven to be a ‘supreme power’ that we hold over other races. We ‘owned half the world’ after all... but at what cost?

 

Reflecting on this subject, I and my friends, have previously thought ‘why do they get offended when we call them ‘black people’-  I don’t take offence to being called a white person’. Ignorance. Lack of education. Lack of knowledge. Why would we be offended by being called white? We aren’t taught about how we colonised, started a slave trade, murdered, raped, ripped countries apart, brought famine and ruin to so many races and countries and despite this happening hundreds of years ago its effects are still present today. And all for what? Economic gain? Power? Control?

 

‘Black people’ has derogatory connotations and to use it so flippantly is misguided. We must get comfortable with saying black and white but we must also understand the roots.  Racism is a learned behaviour; we aren’t born racist. To be black is beautiful. History acknowledges this in a warped backward way. One example can be found in 1786 when black women were banned from showing their natural hair. Due to the fact, black women attracted the attention of white men they had to regulate their hair and style to diminish this unwanted attention. Their beauty was such a threat to the social status of a White woman they put a stop to it there and then. Not deterred, black women owned this and used these headscarves and head ties to accentuate their natural beauty. The system brings us up to be so clueless and naive to the privilege of being white. We don’t know the history of POC, in particular, black history, so why would we question it? Why would we even think there’s a problem?

 

Well, until now we haven’t been paying anywhere near enough attention. Racism is in plain sight and is everywhere. But my eyes are only just being opened up to its true reality. Is this because I’ve only now just taken the time to ask and properly listen!? I’ve always considered myself non-racist but I’ve never checked myself, never actively thought about my words and actions, or even given much thought about the racism in society. Maybe it’s partly down to POC being oppressed for literally centuries that they no longer think they deserve to be heard? Or if they do speak no-one will listen. An oppressive system will do that. We keep electing racists so why would they think their voice and their story would change anything? 

 

One thing that I’ve learned about myself and through the incredible support this platform has received,  is that these stories and experiences ARE opening our eyes, and although this is something that should have happened a very long time ago. I can’t excuse white peoples as a whole, we should have been paying attention and you shouldn’t, as a POC, live in fear. It shouldn’t take the publicised death of a black man during a global pandemic to spark this fire. But now it’s lit, we must keep throwing all the fuel we have at it – we can’t let it burn out.

 

 

I’m not perfect. I don’t know a single white person who is. But I know many who want to learn. Accept that you’ve been wrong and that we are all likely to slip up again many times in the future but recognise it and learn from it – it’s all part of the process. We must check ourselves, check our privilege and S stand up to racists racism and not just be a passive an onlooker. At the end of the day, there are people of all different colours and who the hell are white peoples to put themselves on a pedestal? Colour should be the only thing that differs. Beautiful colours that we can marvel at together. 

 

But until that day, we become and remain anti-racist and not lose momentum.



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