So. As some of you know, I co-facilitate a monthly feminist discussion group here in London. At our last meeting, one of our members suggested we focus our June discussion on racism and white privilege, and I thought it was a brilliant idea.
But here’s the thing. The majority of our group, as it stands, is white. And what at first seemed like a great idea for a challenging conversation now seems ripe with the potential for clueless white person-ness.
At the same time, I also feel like white people not discussing race is a bit of a cop out. A way of fencing off a huge and important political issue as something that is relevant only to “other” people (people of colour, and other, more racist whites). One of the things I love about the concept of white privilege is that it drags white people back into the conversation, serving as a reminder that a) they/we have a race, and b) whether you like it not, race and racism are issues that affect us all.
Ideally, I’d like the conversation to get our members engaging deeply and honestly with their experiences of race – whether as beneficiaries of white privilege/invisibility, victims of racism, or someone who has occupied both positions at different points in their lives.
The question is, how do you do this well? Without people clamming up, and deferring to one another (and thus denying their own engagement with race) and without tokenising anyone, or pushing our POC members into the unwilling role of teacher?
And do you agree with my premise above: that the discomfort many white people seem to feel when it comes to discussing racism is a manifestation of white privilege in and of itself?
I’m working on a UK newspaper piece on the sexualisation of children debate, and looking to speak to girls aged 10-16 and their parents. If you or anyone you know can help, please get in touch (my email is email@example.com) or pass this post on to them.
I’d like to know your views on issues such as:
Do you feel pressured to be hot or sexy? Pretty, cool or fashionable?
Are “hot,” “sexy,” “pretty,” and “fashionable” the same thing, or are they different? Are they more about pleasing boys or pleasing girls? Or pleasing yourself?
Where do you think those pressures come from?
At what age do you think it’s ok for a girl to start dating? Having sex? At what age do you think most girls start dating and/or having sex?
Do you think girls are pressured (by media, by boys, by each other) that they need to be sexual in particular ways? Or under pressure NOT to be sexual, even if they want to be?
What would you most like people to know about girls, beauty, body image and sex/dating?
Are you familiar with the media debates around the sexualisation of girls? Is this something that concerns you?
If it does concern you, what concerns you most? Sexy/sexualised products? Girls’ being under pressure to fit a particular appearance/body mould? Girls having sex (or having sex they don’t want to have) at younger ages? Sexting? Pornography?
If you don’t think it’s an issue, why not?
What are you doing as a parent to help your kids (girls and boys) navigate popular culture, body image, and sex?
I’m looking to set up phone and in person interviews around the UK between May 6 and May 15. If you can help, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share your thoughts anonymously in the comments below.