I didn’t immediately respond to the death of George Floyd online. Not because it didn’t matter to me, it did, but because I wanted to write a post about it a little bit later, hoping that now that people are thinking about their holidays and the fact that they have been released from heavy lockdowns, they are reminded again of what else is going on in the world. Fortunately, there are still protests ongoing and the topic hasn’t been put to rest yet.

I was surprised that some people only now seemed to be outraged about this particular killing and that they seemed to believe that Europe is very different from America when it comes to racism. It’s not. I’m afraid of the hypocrisy that might follow the protests, the outrage on social media and the discussions about racism. I’m afraid that white people (just like me) are going to forget and will never feel responsible themselves, simply because many white people don’t see themselves as racists.

Let me break it down to you. Unless you’ve spent time (and you’re willing to keep on spending time) looking into history, culture and the tragedy surrounding BIPOC, unless you’re consistently checking your own behaviour and your own thoughts towards BIPOC, unless you’re willing to learn and to change and actually make a change, I think you’re still (maybe not so consciously) a racist. This is not going to be a popular statement, but this is not about keeping my mouth shut to protect white fragility. Almost all white people, myself included, participate willingly in a society that brings down BIPOC. We keep that society alive, because it’s good and convenient for us, at the cost of other people. Is there racism in Italy? Absolutely. Did I do anything about it? Not really. I do not believe to be any better, but it’s time to become better.

I also believe that you’re not necessarily a bad person, because you haven’t consciously been improving yourself. I don’t believe that I’m a bad person because of this. It’s just time to take responsibility for my own behaviour and try to gain some more understanding. So when somebody addresses your white privilege, your white supremacy even, try to understand why, instead of defending yourself immediately, because you actually might learn something.

If you’re really ready for a change, don’t just read my posts about it (yes, more will come). Try, for example, the book Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad*. Who knows what you’ll discover. Let’s make a real change here and to do this you have to start with yourself. That may sound easy, but it really isn’t. I’m going to try and I really hope you’ll try with me. And if you’ve already invested time to improve your knowledge regarding this topic, please, feel free to make suggestions of books to read or documentaries to watch that helped you gain a better understanding, in the comment section below.

From Italy with love,

Merel

*I’ve not been sponsored to promote this book. I actually really believe that it will do you some good to read it.