Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty writing in a “Mama Lila Cabbil Tribute: Pushing Us Toward Deeper Thought, Still”, published in Riverwise Magazine.
Through my organizing and teaching, I have asked that anti-racist circles step away from performative testimonials of privilege for whites and lack of privilege for Black and Brown people. I have asked that all allies move from ally-ship towards co-liberation, with the belief that we can only make systemic change if we understand our liberation is tied up with one another’s. My historical and current analysis of this moment pushes me to interrogate the notion that (most) white people “benefit” from their forced relationship with white supremacy.
I have asked that white allies (aspiring co-liberators) seek to understand the impact that the myth of white superiority and the system of white supremacy has had on their own communities. I have asked them to deal with school shootings in their communities, opioid abuse, domestic violence, and rising incidents of suicide. I have asked them if they truly believe what they say when they testify to their privilege.
For many, this way of thinking may not appear to answer the questions that plague Black and Brown people in America. However, I am of the mindset that a dehumanized being cannot see another as fully human. I am of the mindset that the white children who are shooting up schools have fallen victim to trying to live up to the myth of white superiority.
White men, even in progressive circles, are taught they are superior to white women, Black women, and every other living being on the planet. What would it mean for the anti-racism movement to teach white men that they have the furthest to go in efforts to reach their full humanity? What would it look like if they don’t enter spaces acting inherently superior (privileged), but rather with a lot of work to do to shed the legacy of violence that comes with their perception of superiority?