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Classism and White Privilege

Classism & White Privilege

We must take responsibility for racism and view it as an insult to us all, and a stain on our society, just as discrimination based on class is an insult to all.

A concept central to BLM ‘debate’ is that of ‘White Privilege’. Referring to the socio-cultural advantage white people have over black people. Countless researchers have concluded that colour of one’s skin instantly acts as a signifier of their ‘otherness’. White privilege argues that white individuals do not have this signifier of otherness attached to their identity and are not held back by people’s racist views attached to this. By extension white individuals do not have this label and are therefor treated differently, and by enlarge, are privileged by this fact.

Yet, some white people find this sentiment insulting, and believe it erases their lived experiences. Classism is still alive and well in Britain, with many communities – particularly in the North – being hit hard by Tory austerity. The result of which has placed individuals, largely younger people, at a distinctive disadvantage due to their class. For some, concept of white privilege is perceived as an insult to their struggle.

My response to this is that these issues do not exist in isolation. And do not need to be placed in a hierarchy, they are complex and interlinked. They are the product of outdated social systems.

What’s important to remember is that individuals from BAME backgrounds also exist in a classist structure. The same disadvantages associated with class background also apply to BAME individuals with many living in lower social class groups due to institutionalized racism.

‘White privilege’ does not mean that all white people are wealthy or blessed with money and opportunities. Many white people experience severe poverty and lack of opportunities in the UK. All white privilege means is that the colour of your skin does not influence this. This comes from classism within the UK which is largely upheld by other wealthy white people.

What’s more, class background can and does negatively influence BAME communities on top of the negative impact of their race or ethnicity. So BAME individuals experience a lack of opportunities because of their class/background but on top of this face even more discrimination on the basis of the colour of their skin. A factor that does not influence the chances of white people when they apply for a job or go to school.

Unfair advantages to BAME individuals or sticking plaster attempt to achieve equality?

Another key element of the argument for ways in which BAME individuals are at an advantage compared to lower/working class white individuals is the existence of race or ethnicity based graduate, scholarship, workplace schemes. Proponents of this argument state that such programmes offer an unfair advantage to the BAME recipients. However, I must take issue with this for the following 3 reasons:

  1. This is a sticking plaster on a gaping wound of racial inequality. The number of these schemes are near to non-existent on the grand scheme of things. They are rare and must be fought for being highly competitive. They are not the reason you, a white person, didn’t get the job or scholarship you wanted.
  2. These schemes provide valuable opportunities for people that would otherwise be far less likely to succeed due to racial stigma being stacked against them. They do not offer an unfair advantage but an opportunity to reset the balance and level the playing field for already disadvantaged individuals.
  3. These schemes breed diversity. This is a valuable commodity, diversity in the workplace and education has been shown to breed positive change and often promote initiatives that help and support others that are disadvantaged by their background – including class background which negatively effects white individuals across the UK and world at large.

Final thoughts – more in common than you wish to believe

Its’s vital to consider that we have more in common than the wealthy elite would have us believe. You do not need to view racism and classism as an either/or scenario. Both issues need to be resolved. Individuals struggling due to either or both of these issues are deserving of support. The idea that BAME communities are looking for special treatment or are somehow responsible for your lack of opportunities is as tired a falsehood as ‘the immigrant stole my job’. These ideas that other social groups are responsible for your hardship is a tired old divisive technique used by governments and ruling classes to divide us and keep us fighting amongst ourselves.

To support BAME individuals is to support oneself, together we can and should work together to improve the lived experiences of us all. We are all deserving of a quality, happy and equitable existence for the short time we’re here.

Don’t think of it as us and them, but us all together against the outdated and unfair social system that still favours the superrich and super greedy.

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‘White complicity in racism’

Black Lives Matter (BLM), a statement, a movement, and a source of much controversy. But what is it all about? If you do one thing today, please do me the favour of joining me on this journey as we try to better understand this disputed movement.

Many people know of Martin Luthor King’s now famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, yet it was this most recent Martin Luther King Day on January 18th that stirred up an important aspect of the late Dr King’s legacy. The factor that plagued his life, and ever since his death, is the lacking response and care shown by white people.

“…First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection…” – MLK, full letter here.

When questioned, of course the majority of our colleagues, friends, and family, believe they support black rights and denounce racism when seen, yet reading King’s speeches made me realise how complicit we are in our inaction. While we like to believe we denounce racism, our attitude towards racial inequality places it as something that is very much a black-persons problem. Only breaking our silence to tackle racism on occasions in which our silence would possibly bring us harm to our social standing.

The tragic death of Sarah Everard & disappearance of Michael Okorogheye displays the disparity in reactions between the cultures in the UK. Both of these tragic cases deserve full attention of the media, the people and the country at large. Both should horrify and trouble us to the same level as though it were on of our own friends or family. Yet the former received huge attention while the other took days of campaigning on social media to receive the attention it deserved. Richard’s mother was told ‘if you can’t find your son, how are we supposed to?’ by the police. This would never have happened if she were white. It’s a signifier of where we’re at as a country.

As a gay man I recognise the importance of non-marginalised groups advocating, protesting, and standing with the LGBTQIA+ community as our allies. Yet when I looked around at my family, I could not imagine them or myself advocating explicitly for racial equality in any meaningful way.

What can YOU do?

Needless to say, this realisation troubled me. I like to think myself as a strongly aligned member of the left socio-political movement, priding myself on fighting for minority groups. Yet it became apparent to me that beyond signing petitions, sharing content on social media, there was not much I actually did to make a difference.

An article by Time Out in June 2020 outlines many ways in which the average person can get involved in supporting Black Lives Matter. From donating to movements like the Minnesota Freedom Fund or your local BLM organisation, showing solidarity on social media to showing up to protests. Any and all of these methods and more help support the movement.

I believe one step from this list we can ALL take is to educate ourselves, keep our ears and eyes open and be prepared to learn. Together we can take personal responsibility day to day to fight racism in all forms, being pro-active in ensuring we treat problems and issues for BAME communities with the same importance we do for issues that directly impact white people.

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A story of isolation – Reedsy submission

Reedsy published new prompts daily. If you haven’t already it’s worth checking them out if you’re looking for opportunities to spread your writing wings or flex your writing muscles, short story prompts may be the perfect opportunity for you to do so!

The following short story is based on Reedsy’s prompt: someone who can’t remember their past & doesn’t want to..

The man on the edge of the world

It could not have been longer than a week or maybe even two – at a push. His mind had become numb to the passage of time, and even now his stomach had begun to yield. No longer growling and grumbling like a vicious dog desperate for scraps. No. Now like all half-starved animals, it too had grown still. Grown silent and grown weary.

The sun hung heavy in the sky, suffocated behind a cloak of grey mists, only briefly outstretching itself and burdening the sky with its presence. Bleaching the once grey horizon the suns light bathed the man in an all too rare glow, during which, he was safe. This respite from the icy embrace he had come to know was something he had begun to yearn for. Sporadic was the nature of this beast and as such all hopes for this amicable meeting between, he and his sun god were dashed. Hope was for fools. Hopes did not serve him before. Hope was not a welcome bed friend, not for the man on the edge of the world.

Once the sun had burst through the dulled atmosphere clearing a passage through the air, bulldozing the clouds and mists away for miles around. It was then he could see, see where it happened. He hastened to look, knowing what he inevitably will see, knowing he’s looked any number of times before. The conflict driving his body into meltdown, his blood pulsing through his head, so furiously his vision becomes distorted with the pressure of fluid pushing and pulling its way through the veins in his eyes, like a frate train coming at full speed he knew there was no stopping it. As it had come to be, each day a fraction of his mind desperately stood century fighting off any glimpse or thought for what had happened. For what he had seen could not be explained nor reasoned with. This losing battle became ever more futile at night. When the darkness crept in, in all senses, from all sides, it consumed him. A black beast coming again and again to feed on what was little more than a breathing corpse. This battle went on, without the need for a reminder. Better not to look.

Call it foolishness or call it desperation, he looked. Out on the horizon he searched for the familiar. It was then he learned the true magnitude of his situation. He glanced up and down, hoping to abet the pulsation of his eyes while fighting against the stinging sensation in his pupils. They screamed for him to look away, the brightness was something they had long forgotten. Amid this struggle his weary panic became molested by a feeling of dread, the kind that sent hot chills down one’s spine. He began to run towards the horizon, slipping in the snow he scrambled for a better view. What he had not wanted to see he now could not. The grey ice arch in the distance that had once stood menacingly in defiance of the battering ocean that haunted him, that he had tried to forget he now wished to see, was nowhere to be seen. He looked left and right along the barren landscape searching for a sign of the familiar. The icy architraves and malicious spikes were the holly and thorns of this maze, indistinguishable and unyielding. His body was now in overdrive, this one connection, this one image he had desperately wanted to forget had now crept away. His only anchor to life before ripped from under him he crumbled. No longer did his damp clothes and frozen limbs trouble him, he let out a long, lonesome yell that was swallowed by the twisting winds.

Much to his disappointment, he awoke, the snow had settled about him, childlike and alone he cracked his frozen clothes into submission as he stretched out his limbs. Abandoned by the sun once more he looked out into the darkness. His eyes now wishing for light in the unrelenting dark. It was time. He had been waiting. For what? He was not sure. But it was time to go.

Staggering away up the snow-covered slope he slipped out of all thought, barely able to manifest the will to keep moving. Gladly aided by the wind he climbed as it pushed him forward. As he walked the icy tunnel tightened around him. Overgrown icicles sliced the winds to shreds, humming as ice and snow weaved between the frozen shards. He trudged through the ominous passage as the overhanging ice-walls tighten like a noose around him in the nights air. Hollow, this man trudged at the end of the world, the wind robbing him of his hearing, the darkness robbing him of his sight. An eery presence hovered over him, each footfall mirrored by another. He turned quickly, searching through the swarm of snow. Searching for what? He did not know. None the less he turned, to no avail each time. Yet he knew his footsteps were not alone.

Fatigued by his paranoia he grew close now, close enough to see but not to touch. A large bronze door. Not like any he had seen before, this door stood four, five times the height of a man. Wide like the bow of a ship and curved, curved like a giant’s eye on its side, driven halfway into the snow.

Clambering and clawing his way forward as the winds spat ice and snow at his back, he felt it. Not by any tangible sense he knew of, but he felt it. Something drew ever closer. Mimicking him, where he stalled it stalled, where he hurried it hurried. Unlike the man it was untiring, never hesitating. The door was in reaching distance, but all the same he felt the urgency to get inside as though he were a million miles from safety.

Grabbing at the box next to the door he yelled, “Come on you fucker!”. Though he was not sure if he was yelling. For had he not been conscious of his own thoughts, he may not have even been aware he had said anything at all, for the wind screamed in his ears. As he pulled at a large bronze lever the ground shook, as though something huge had been dropped nearby, causing settled snow to pour down from above. The giant bronze slab that was the door began to fold open, disappearing into the cliff face above. He ran through the opening, racing the sleet and snow into the room beyond. Fearing the cold was not the only thing he was racing he searched desperately for a means to close the door behind him.

Somehow colder than outside his fingers grazed against the rough stone walls, grasping desperately he found what felt like a lever. Almost numb from the cold his hands glanced off the lever. He felt the quickening steps of his counterpart behind him. In a hurry he threw his arms against the lever and pressed his half-frozen body against them, letting all his weight bare down upon it. And with that, the ground began to shake, a cloud of dust shot from the ceiling and the bronze door slid back down the giants eye doorframe. Entombing himself inside, finally he was safe.

Then came the sound. It started off quietly, a gentle hissing at first. Looking down he saw the bronze lever glowing red hot as it cooked his body and burnt his skin. A perfect sear mark along his body ran parallel with the lever. However, it was only by looking did it become real, as the perfect line flashed with heat along his body. Pulled his cooked flesh apart from the now smoking lever he felt the heat vibrating through his body. The man fell to the floor folding over to shield his burning side, eventually growing still, the room grew silent.

Where once a lightless void reigned unchallenged, now a small fire in the centre of the room warmed his frozen extremities with enough light to douse the expansive room in a dim amber glow. He looked around at the place he had come to know, there were no windows, no other doors, just smooth curved bare rock boring its way up into the cliff face meeting its peak an unknown, unknowable distance above him. For the dim orange light of the fire could only shine so far in the otherwise pitch darkness. How many days had he spent here; he did not know? Losing himself, losing time. Unquestioningly he stood up and placed his wet clothes on the fireside logs adorning the floor. Then it started.

He was not sure when the knocking began once more time and reality had enveloped him as a river parts around a rock. In the empty darkness behind the monolithic door he lay, frozen and burnt, each knock against the door pierced him. The question of who or what was out there was tossed around his head without resolution. He knew now, knew for certain, he was not alone. Feelings of fear carpeted his mind, only breaking form to allow moments of satisfaction to make themselves known, after all, he knew he was not alone out there.

Looking into the flames, he searched for answers he already knew, flinching with each knock from outside. He stared into the flames remembering the flames he saw at sea, the flames he saw that swelled around him at the grey ice arch. The glowing embers were metal, iron bolts and bulkheads all fading to nothing in the kaleidoscope of his mind. The knocking continued. The man entranced by the story offered by the flame, the guilt and gruesome truth crept in from the edges of his mind. Probing his defences. “No…” He Whispered, not a whisper one could hear, besides the knocking you could hear a pin drop to the ground inside the room. Yet if his dry and broken lips had not cracked open fresh wounds at the effort, he may have not been aware he spoke at all. The knocking continued, getting louder, “No.” He said again, louder this time and despite his now bleeding lips. The knocking got louder, “No!” he now shouted, as he fought away the encroaching beast circling his memory. “No!” he yelled, now standing, “No!” he yelled again now running. “No!” he yelled again, “No! No! No! No!” his hands now savagely battering the bronze door, blood and skin from his knuckles blistering against the red-hot door which now glowed red. The knocking continued as the door glowed brighter and brighter.

Clutching his burnt and broken hands the man was now faced with an intrusive, blinding white light coming from the door, brighter and brighter it shone. Using his hands to shield his eyes this light permeated his flesh so cleanly he could make out the silhouettes of his fractured and broken bones within his wet and blistered fists. The knocking reached a crescendo as the light shone brightly before at once, both evaporated from the room. Silence fell.

Cradling his head in his broken hands, a flash of anger dragged the man up to look the giant door in the eye. As quickly as it came his renewed anger and confidence dissipated as a new sound emerged to challenge his newfound boldness. The familiar ringing of metal through the room was replaced with a gentle tapping. The sound radiated from behind him. Turning, unsure what to expect, the man was confronted by the now dark and empty room. Where once smooth stone had paved the ground, now water sat. Coming up to his knees the water marred his pace as he effortfully waded through the darkness. As he drew ever closer to the knocking, suddenly smacking into an immensely flat surface. Falling down to the ground he looked up to see a great and terrible mirror stood staunch over him. Defiantly, begging him to look.

To his horror, he saw it. He recognised it. It had chased him all this way. It was inside. It was inside with him. He stood unmoving looking at it as ripples in the water turned to waves, giving glimpses of the decaying and hollow faces barely below the surface. His gaze fixed on it within the mirror, human but unhuman. Just like him and unlike him. Overcome with fear his mind finally buckled, losing his grasp he fell through shadow and spite. The man on the edge of the world stood starring out from within the mirror. Frozen in place he starred as the shadow of a grey ice archway in the sea eclipsed the sun, casting shadow over a man, whose arms were red with blood. The perfect snow stained with blood in his wake.

He began to knock at the mirror from the inside only then for it to shatter. He was lost.

.

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Contacting NobleBlogs

There’s nothing in life like collaboration, two heads are better than one & I’m always happy to work with & collaborate with others.

This means, suggestions for posts, tip-offs, content you’d like to see and more are all welcome! Just contact me on one of our platforms and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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Fact, fiction, opinion pieces, art promo whatever it is we want to see it. Contact us with submissions & ideas whenever you fancy! Just tell us a little about yourself and any links to your socials you want included in the post!

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NobleWorks

NobleWorks’ is my all-things-creative brand, under which I post written and artistic content. For art content find me either on my website: https://nobleworkss.wixsite.com/website-1 or on Instagram under ‘@Noble_artt’.

For written content, NobleBlogs, you’re in the right place! Here I post all the content for my own blog as well as links to those I’ve written for others.

Blog posts – generally – pertain to Psychology, sociology, society, mental health & well-being as well as any other important topics.

Why Noble?

  • The theme of ‘Noble’ was chosen in respect to a mental health advocate & talented creator by the same name.
  • Additionally, the theme ‘Noble’, defined as: having, showing, or coming from personal qualities that people admire (such as honesty, generosity, courage, etc. relates well to the goals and values of Noble Works.

This blog will serve as the mouthpiece of NobleWorks offering compelling, critical and interesting content often from the informed view of a Psychologist.

Take a look at what I’ve posted so far!