White Privilege Diary Series #1 – White Feminist Privilege in Organizations
Racism = Prejudice + Power
This piece is so powerful. It outlines how racism inhabits the actions and thoughts of those who not only claim not to be racist but also claim that they really do want and value diversity. While the writer couches her thoughts on racism through the work she does with feminist groups, I’m sure you can imagine this sort of story repeating itself in the halls of academia, religion, corporate and industry institutions, police forces, financial institutions and so on. Diversity, like Love, is an action word. It’s not enough to say it. You have to actively pursue it. What I found fascinating was that given the choice of continuing the comfortability of racism and white supremacy and the uncomfortability of diversity and power-sharing and equal opportunity…these women in power CHOSE racism.
This happens everywhere. And it needs to be called by its name…Racism.
This is the moment when personal prejudice can be coupled with power to enforce discrimination at an institutional level: this, in short, is where racism lives. It is a small group of 4-5 women who really control all the decisions and resources of the organization, and who will set a tone of cooperation or poison the atmosphere. 501(c)(3)s — especially the small ones — are personality driven. This means that a small group of women pour their hearts and souls and much of their financial resources into building the organization, and feel a strong proprietary interest. They are comfortable with each other, often because they are all the same race and class, etc. Mary and I eventually came to realize that unless the core group wants the change, no change will ever happen. Short of voting with their feet (which many feminists do), the members of the organization have no instrument with which they can force positive change that the Powers That Be don’t want to make.
…In short, given the comfort of racism, and the discomfort of active anti-racism, they chose racism, outright. What was there for me to do at that point, except clarify that they had chosen to perpetuate racism, rather than to end it? – hepshiba
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