Racist Activism 101 [or “How to be a Completely Clueless and Aggravating White Activist”, or again “How to Get on Nadine’s Personal Shit List”]

by Nadine

[This article was originally written for the Concordia Student Union Handbook.]

DISCLAIMER: This is far, far FAR from being an exhaustive checklist. Sure, this is my opinion and mine only, but run it by your comrades of colour [I’m sure you’ve got tons of ’em] and chances are…

Anyhow. Moving on the to the main topic.

Tactic #1: Learn (and talk) as much as you can about issues affecting a few choice people of colour: Mumia is a good place to start. Quote Che Guevera if you can, and drop references to the Black Panthers in every other sentence. But, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE WHATSOEVER shall you:
– learn about the histories of local communities of colour;
– challenge racism in your activist group;
– work with local activists of colour who aren’t directly in your group. If you do, make sure that they’re invited into an already set activity, where you’ve already made all important decisions and arrangements. We can’t forget who’s boss!

Tactic #2: Tell me about your trip to Costa Rica / Ghana / Pakistan where you dug a well / taught English / started a revolution. Tell me how backwards the patriarchal system is there, how the cops there are just so undemocratic, and how astounded you were that the people just accepted this shit. Change the story if you went to Chiapas: those Zapatistas!!!

Tactic #3: Show me how much you appreciate my culture by sporting dreads and stitching patches of Angela Davis onto your clothes. Rebel against Christianity by learning “voodoo” [books will do], and better yet: explain to me exactly how alienated I am because I still keep my “slave name”. If the primitive pagan/animistic don’t do it for you, try Asian spirituality.

Tactic #4: Try doing this as often as possible (simulated conversation):
Me: “Hi, I’m Nadine.”
You: “Oh, I know you. We’ve already met.”
Me: “Uh, I don’t think so.”
You: “Yeah, we met at Josh’s place, at the potluck last week. He introduced us.”
Me: “I don’t know anyone named Josh, and I was in Haiti last week.” You: “Oh, I could have sworn it was you.”
You know why you could have sworn it was me? Cuz: we all still look alike to you. Admit it. At least to yourself, if not to me.

Tactic #5: Prove your own lack of racism by explaining how you were raised to believe everyone is equal and therefore you can’t be racist. Cement the argument by counting off the number of multicultural endeavours you’ve embarked on (including the “Reclaim the Streets” fair where people were invited to come in native garb).

Tactic #6: Be really surprised when I tell you I plan to leave Canada and live in a nice Third World country wracked with civil strife, violent crime and 75% rate of unemployment. Wonder why someone would want to leave this racist, capitalistic and consumerist holy land.

I’m kinda bitter. You might even call me a [gasp!] reverse racist. But lemme quote Lonnae O’Neal Parker: “I believe white folks would know if blacks were ever to really reverse racism.”

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