'Blue Note' - Model: Armando Cabral - Photographer: Billy Kidd - Fashion Editor/Stylist: Benjamin Sturgill - Details Magazine May 2014
"From cobalt, to teal, Yves Klein to azure, a familiar color looks effortlessly modern, especially when it comes to your summer suit."
- Z Zegna suit - Dries Van Noten shirt
- Ralph Lauren Black Label suit & sweater - Paul Stuart scarf
- Canali suit - Burberry Prorsum shirt - Hermés shoes
- DSquared2 suit - Missoni tank top - Bottega Veneta shoes
- Tommy Hilfiger suit - John Varvatos shirt
- Prada suit & shirt
- Gucci suit - Etro shirt
- Salvatore Ferragamo suit - John Varvatos cardigan
tinkerdyne said: are you racist?
Seeing as how you’ve reblogged my "the problem" post and replied with “the problem being such racism directed toward white folk in this piece. smh” - a phrase you’ve also repeated in your tags, along with “white racism” - I’m going to go ahead and assume that what you’re actually asking is, am I racist against white people?
The short answer is no, for two reasons. One, I’m white, so that would be kind of self defeating; and two, because “white racism” doesn’t actually exist.
By way of explaining that second reason, here’s the long answer:
White racism, or reverse racism, or whatever you want to call it, is a false equivalence. A false equivalence, as the name suggests, is what happens when we mistakenly assume that two very different things carry the same moral or social weight, often on the basis of a superficial similarity. Here’s an common example of a false equivalence: the idea that rebuking a bully is just as bad as being a bully oneself, because in both instances, someone’s feelings get hurt. What this ignores, of course, is the fact that the bully was hurting someone, whereas the person rebuking them was trying to stop that from happening. Their actions are differentiated by context, motive, and the literal order of events - namely, that the second person was responding to the aggression of the first - and when we erase or elide this information, we fundamentally misunderstand what’s going on.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the history of relations between white people and POC (people of colour). Thanks to white colonialism, empire building, the slave trade and a host of other evils, all of which were explicitly enacted by white people against POC the world over throughout the last century or so, numerous countries were thrown into horrific violence and turmoil, much of which still persists today, and which has created a global legacy of abuse, cultural upheaval and distress. Apartheid in South Africa, the Stolen Generation of Aboriginal Australians, America’s Jim Crow laws and the Trail of Tears are just some of the more prominent historical consequences of Western colonial racism and imperialism, never mind the loss of language, culture and land inflicted on countless native peoples. Up until frighteningly recently, POC, and particularly black people, were “known” by Western scientists to be genetically inferior to whites. Nazi eugenicists were inspired by their American predecessors, and to give just one example of the sort of thing this lead to, in the 1930s, American doctors deliberately infected unknowing black subjects with syphilis in order to study the disease, in what has subsequently become known as the Tuskegee experiment. (Scientific racism in the West has a long and terrible history all its own.)
All of which is a way of saying that racism - actual racism, as distinct from “white racism” - was not only historically widespread, but institutional. For more than a century, most Western countries functioned on the assumption that white people were racially superior to POC, a belief that was expressed, not just through big, violent acts of colonialism, invasion, war, rape and genocide, but through the use of specific laws within those countries that treated POC as chattel, restricted their rights, dictated where they could live and what they could own, and otherwise served to keep them as second class citizens, even on their own land. And as a result of such laws - which, you must remember, were “known” to be supported by scientific evidence of racial inferiority - Western culture took on the flavour of institutional racism, too. And this is the crucial thing, because even though society has progressed and become much more egalitarian in the past few decades, culture has a half-life. It lingers in our stories, in our biases, in our politics, and continues to influence society in ways which, despite all the legal developments since the abolishment of slavery and the institution of equal rights, are both pernicious and omnipresent.
For instance: racial segregation is still very much enforced by many real estate agents who, whether due to conscious bigotry or unconscious bias, are actively shown to discriminate against POC, keeping them out of “white” neighbourhoods by declining to show POC clients houses in those areas, or pretending that such houses are unavailable. The practise is called racial steering, it has been widely and thoroughly documented, and it is still going, particularly in the US. Another example is workplace discrimination: where potential employees ask jobseekers to list their race during digital submissions, it’s not uncommon for POC not to be given interviews until or unless they check their race as “white”, even when their CVs remain the same. A recent survey of over 6000 university professors at over 250 top US schools showed that, on receiving identical cold emails from fictional students, the professors were overwhelmingly likely to respond positively to white male students, but to disregard everyone else. Again, this sort of racism doesn’t have to be conscious, in the sense that the person is sitting there, actively thinking about how they hate members of a particular ethnic group: it can simply be the result of our cultural upbringing, a bias we’re not even aware we have until someone points it out. But at the same time, racially motivated hate crimes still occur with alarming frequency: 85% of hate crimes in the UK in 2012/2013 were committed on the basis of race, with police statistics putting the number of offences at 35,885.
I could go on, but hopefully, you’re getting the point: that the toxic historical legacy of Western imperialism is still very much present, not only in the suffering of entire countries and ethnic groups who continue to be affected by war and colonialism, but in the everyday treatment of POC within Western countries - treatment that manifests in physical violence, shouted abuse from strangers, workplace bigotry, loss of opportunity, and racial steering in the housing market (and that’s before you address white beauty standards as default, the exoticisation and fetishisation of particular races, cultural stereotyping, the lack of representation of POC in popular culture, and any number of other issues). But because we’ve also learned that racism is a Bad Thing - even if we haven’t always learned what racism actually is - there’s an enormous cultural reticence among white people to discuss racism, or to accuse ourselves of racism, or to do anything other than insist that it just doesn’t happen any more; or to argue that if it does, it’s only on the loony fringe of politics. And this creates the perfect breeding ground for racism to keep on perpetuating itself: because if we’re not made aware of it, and if we don’t learn to discuss it, then simply because of our white privilege - which is to say, the privilege afforded us by a society whose institutional and cultural basics were laid down with our racial superiority in mind, thereby creating legups and shortcuts for us that don’t apply across the board - we end up being racist, or aiding in the racism of others, simply out of laziness and ignorance.
Naturally, then, it’s necessary to discuss the role white people play in perpetuating racism and other forms of privileged discrimination, both historically and currently. I haven’t gone into the many and significant intersections of racism, sexism and homophobia (for instance) here, but what it all boils down to is this: traditionally, straight white men have held inordinate amounts of power, both politically and socially, in Western cultures, because they are the people those cultures have long considered to be the most important, the most intelligent, and the most suited to leadership. These biases continue in our cultures today - sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously - but the end result is the same: a surfeit of straight white male privilege going, in terms of public discourse, largely unaddressed. But on those occasions and in those communities where it is addressed - when, in an effort to combat decades and centuries worth of institutional racism, misogyny, homophobia, cissexism and other such biases, we start talking about the ways in which these attitudes are still present in the unthinking entitlement of the most privileged members of our culture - white dudes, in other words - there’s an enormous pushback from people who don’t see the titanic weight of racialised, sexualised discrimination that we’re trying to unpack, and who instead draw the misguided conclusion that because we’re saying “white people” as casually as a bigot might say “black people”, we’re therefore being racist, too, even when the speaker is, themselves, white.
Which is why, to return to the original point, “white racism” is a false equivalence: in calling it that, you’re completely ignoring the context, motive and order of events that define what “racism” means. Racism against POC is institutional, omnipresent, and the product of a long, bloody history of white imperialism that continues to this day. “White racism,” or “reverse racism,” is what people who either don’t know or don’t care about this context call the entirely necessary act of trying to point out that actual racism still happens, and that white people are, by and large, the ones perpetuating it, even if subconsciously.
So, to give a third answer to your question: being white, I try very, very hard not to be racist. I do this by examining my biases, think about the context - both cultural and historical - of my actions and my language, and by listening when POC speak about their experiences with racism. But because I’m human - and also because of my white privilege - I don’t always succeed. And when that happens, it behoves me to apologise, to learn from my mistakes, and to move on a better person.
Reblogging this out of necessity. It’s long but so worth the read.