“Neutrality means that you don’t really care . ‘Cause the struggle goes on even when you’re not there. Blind and unaware.” | Rise Against – Collapse (Post-Amerika)
In the past few days, I have doubted whether I would also join in sharing articles and statements about the anti-racism movement that has dominated Western media for the past week. On the one hand, it’s a very important topic that needs to be discussed and that needs to change completely. On the other hand, I personally am absolutely not a fan to suddenly go along with certain popular developments that will probably hardly be talked about in a while. I’m also not someone who regularly talks about racism. In addition, I doubt that my words will add anything to the many messages that have been shared to date. I have therefore decided to give it a try to write about it, and if you read this I have apparently been satisfied enough with the end result to share it with you.
I recently wrote about the time I wore a Rise Against shirt to which a fellow student asked: “Rise Against? Against what?” One of the examples I gave was racism, to which he responded that “everyone is against such a thing, isn’t it?” Apparently that’s not the case.
But let me at least do it differently than what has been written on this subject to date. Let me start with myself. A white and heterosexual young man. In other words, the three biggest privileges I think one can have. I will never be able to experience how people with a different skin colour, gender or sexual identity are limited in their freedom. I am certainly aware of this position and have regularly wondered if I am at all justified in formulating and expressing an opinion on these types of topics that I will never be able to experience myself.
I have therefore decided for myself that I do not have to have an opinion about everything. I certainly think about many topics, but often I do not have enough knowledge to actually formulate an opinion about them. And who am I at all to say something about events that I have insufficient knowledge of or that I have never had or will not be able to experience?
I do not want to use this moment to formulate or express opinions arbitrarily. I think it adds little and many words have already been spoken. That’s why I would rather use this moment as a form of self-reflection and to see to what extent I myself have a share in the racist hierarchy.
In my article Jus(t) a Bad Human I discuss, in the opinion of Tim Fransen, that people often think that they are above average good, but that this isn’t possible. We have a blind spot to ourselves, which makes it difficult to estimate how good we actually are. The officers, and many other people who contribute to racism, probably believe that they are doing the right thing. Perhaps that’s also the tricky part of this subject; that you do not consider yourself a racist, but that you unconsciously contribute to it.
This is something I have to take into account when looking at myself. Obviously I wouldn’t describe myself as a racist, but aren’t there any things I do unconsciously that might be racist? I don’t know, and the only way to find out is to ask others, especially people who may be victims of it.
What I am aware of is that sometimes a racist thought crosses my mind. For example when I’m using public transport. At that moment I am shocked by this, because I absolutely cannot agree with such thoughts. At the same time, a thought does not immediately mean that you agree with it and thoughts can also come to you completely randomly. When I get such a thought, I often think about the counter idea that everyone is human, that it doesn’t matter what someone looks like and that no one is inferior to others based on appearance. Why would my life be worth more than anyone else’s at all? In this way I can help myself dispel the unwanted racist thought. I may not be able to fully influence what thoughts come to mind, but I am able to determine to what extent I agree and whether I will act on them.
What I wonder is whether something will actually change after the current abundance of news reports and statements of support. All those expressions of support are great, but it only creates attention for the problem, while it hardly changes anything.
If we really think it is important that something changes, we have to contribute to it ourselves. Maybe we shouldn’t talk about racism in general terms, but rather start with ourselves. Take a critical look at ourselves, become aware of our own role in this and possible racist aspects of our own, as I did above. A world without racism would be something new. Something we need to learn, or maybe something we need to unlearn. It takes time and patience, and I think we can point each other out if something is racist. I believe that it often happens unconsciously, but that many people do want to contribute to reduce the problem. ‘Everyone is against racism, right?’ The amount of online supportive statements makes one believe so. And I sincerely hope that it doesn’t just stay with ‘online’ support.
“This is a chance to set things straight. To bend or break the rules back into place. There is no middle ground, no compromise. We’ve drawn the line.” | Rise Against – Collapse (Post-Amerika)
(Text continues below video; a video with live footage of the song Collapse (Post-Amerika) with studio audio.)
As I wrote in a previous article, we cannot expect anyone to be completely flawless. We all make mistakes, none of us are holy. But we can try to improve ourselves as humans.
I found the quote that I started this article very applicable. It has also made me consider sharing my thoughts on this issue. The song title of Rise Against is significant: Collapse (Post-Amerika). Amerika indeed, written with a K. A satirical misspelling. A definition of Amerika could be: “American society viewed as racist, fascist, or oppressive, especially by African-Americans.” Its origin lies in the 1960s. Sometimes it’s written as Amerikkka or AmeriKKKa.
Once this problem is solved it finally might be Post-Amerika. But there is still a long way to go.
“Of a world too proud to admit our mistakes. We’re crashing into the ground as we all fall from grace.” | Rise Against – Collapse (Post-Amerika)
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