Let’s Talk About Racism

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Let’s Talk About Racism

Isha Chitre, Reporter

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Let’s admit it – Everyone is racist. Racism, or discrimination against someone of a different race, has been prevalent in American society, since the eighteenth century. While racism continues to be a topic heavily discussed in society, a new voice has joined the conversation.

British journalist Reni Eddo Lodge’s book, Why I’m no longer Talking to White People About Race, is a collection of essays that brings a new issue to attention in the conversation regarding race – subconscious racism. Within these essays, Lodge analyzes issues such as structural racism, the class system, as well as feminism.

Lodge’s writing  is based on her personal experiences as a Black woman living in Great Britain.

The title, Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, was originally used in a blog post by Lodge. According to the Guardian, the post was her entry into the growing debate on racism.

In her blog post, published in 2014, Lodge states, “I’m no longer engaging with white people on the topic of race…I can no longer engage with the gulf of emotional disconnect that white people display when a person of color articulates our experiences.”

Similar to Lodge’s blog post, the book expresses her frustrations at white people, who according to her, are emotionally disconnected from their ethnicity. While the title suggests that Lodge advocates for removing white people from the conversation, her intention is quite the opposite, as she intends to raise awareness of the emotional disconnect she has often felt when discussing race with whites.

Reminiscing on her childhood, Lodge admits that as a four-year-old, she often asked her mother when she would become white, as whites were portrayed as the heroes in the media.  According to Lodge, White Privilege,  is the lack of relegating a certain race, as it is considered the default.

However, Lodge’s definition doesn’t refer to the privilege of material wealth that many whites posses, but rather the advantages they receive due to their race, which goes unnoticed. In fact, she even acknowledges that whites have had their share of economic struggles.

This emotional disconnect is the conclusion of living a life oblivious to the fact that their skin colour is the norm and all others deviate from it,” Lodge stated.

Lodge’s point is an important one. While the growing conversation of racism has certainly raised awareness among society, the tendency of subconscious racism needs far more attention. Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Racism does not call out whites for discriminating against other races, but rather for remaining oblivious to the advantages they recieve, simply for the color of their skin.

Through this, Lodge also addresses the impact of individuals, who may claim to not be racist, yet automatically treat people of color differently from whites. She brings an important issue to the table, as the problem isn’t limited to racial slurs and discrimination, but also includes a mindset – one that is heavily influenced by the class system.

In her essay on race and class, Lodge remarks that people of color are far more likely to be living in poverty in comparison to white people, as they are more likely to be unemployed. However, she also states that people of color make up a large portion of Britain’s working class, which is characterized by their “cultural and social capital.”

When discussing how racial stereotypes affect the portrayal of the class system in media, Lodge mentions “Girls,” a TV show. In “Girls” a group of girls living in New York struggle, as they work low-paid jobs. However, Lodge argues that the show is an inaccurate portrayal of young women’s lives in New York, due to the lack of racial diversity, considering that New York is one of the largest cities in the world. She states, “The programme…was starkly white.”  

It is important to note that people of color have assimilated into the modern class system, rather than succumbing to the stereotypical perceptions of race and class. Lodge points out that race and class are related, and cannot be thought of as separate entities.

Her argument is quite relevant to society today, as it challenges the stereotypes of class that are portrayed in outlets, such as media. In fact, Lodge states that when growing up, her perceptions of her ethnicity was based off of what she would see on TV – Blacks either being portrayed as villains or those in severe poverty.

The point is, in order to change our views on ethnicities, we must educate ourselves on the modern class system. Perhaps this will lead to more diversity in the workforce, and break the barrier between whites and people of color.

Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race, illustrates a new perspective on racism – one that demands the elimination of racial stereotypes that fuel subconscious racism.