Politics & Media
Aug 25, 2016, 06:58AM

A Message To “Woke” White People

I’d love a white privilege shield!

Rsz 4809.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

I recently went to an excellent panel on racism and gender equality in the electronic music industry. First, the fact that we even need a panel about the lack of women and brown faces in the music industry—in 2016—is completely ridiculous. Straight white men should be outraged because this is happening on their watch. Anyway. The panel itself was very good and offered tips on what we can do in our own communities to support women artists and artists of color.

At one point, a panelist, a well-known DJ, said with a fire in her voice that everyone in the room should demand that clubs and bookers and promoters work with people of color. I clapped. The whole room clapped. The whole room was also white except for me, the friend I was with and four other people.

In front of me was a row of white techno bros who clapped vigorously at the thought, and while I watched them clap all I could think about were the receipts. Where were their black or other POC friends that night? Do they have any black friends? If they are promoters, do they actually book people of color or women for their club nights? What were they really clapping for?

When it comes to fighting social justice issues and racism there’s a certain type of white person out there who means well, but who still gets it all wrong. They’ll jump right on top of social justice issues as quickly as possible to express their outrage. RAWR! But when you ask to see the receipts all you end up with is a bunch of white people at a panel about racism, clapping at how terrible racism is and who will then continue booking white male artists as if they never went to the panel at all.

The row of “woke” white dudes clapping in front of me really crystallizes how racism works. Racism isn’t as simple as you don’t like me because I’m black. It’s that you can clap at how terrible racism is, or post a Facebook status or change your profile picture or go to a protest and then go on about your business like nothing ever happened. This, of course, isn’t all white people, and I can’t be sure who in the room that night had friends of color. But for some reason you’d think that if you’re going to a panel on diversity in the music industry, people would reach out to their diverse friends or that their friend group automatically reflected diversity.

Being “woke” means you understand not only how queer, trans and people of color are marginalized and systematically left out of the equation but that you act on it. It means you understand how your own whiteness acts as a privilege shield. A privilege shield! Doesn’t that sound so cool? I would love a white privilege shield! During the global outpouring of support for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, many queer nightlife people and DJs spoke out about the value of queer nightlife, but a number of my favourite DJs remained totally silent. These are the same people who play parties around the world and get paid four, even five figures to play music that was built by queer people of color. And they couldn’t even be bothered.

Interrogating whiteness isn’t not about pointing fingers or making any specific white person or group of while people feel guilty. Far from it. Talking about whiteness is reparative. It’s about looking at an orange and saying, yes, that’s an orange. If you think of yourself as a white person who is “woke” (really there’s no other way to be white), who stands up for and supports women, people of color and other marginalized people, think closely about what can you can do to support them and combat your own white privilege.

Don’t just clap against racism, sexism or discrimination. Make sure you have the receipts.  

  • Speaking of receipts, as in "show me the money", it's possible those booking the artists are thinking of the receipts. So you have an alt-rock club, presuming that's a thing, and you book a rapper. How much money does the club make showing the alt-rock audience what a bunch of racists they are for walking out? How much money is the club supposed to lose trying to effect "change"?

    Responses to this comment
  • You're obviously not a woke white person, and really there's no other way to be white. You wear your white supremacy on your sleeve.

    Responses to this comment
  • Childe. You forgot the sarc tag. Presuming you're right, I'd be a damned fool to give it up, wouldn't I?

    Responses to this comment
  • You listen to your Perry Como and sing along to Papa Loves Mambo and think that makes your white ass diverse? What a joke. You're about as woke as a coma.The only diversity panel you'd attend would be at NASCAR on the diversity of Budweiser flavors sold to your fellow rednecks at the race. I doubt you listen to any music by queer people of color or even have one diverse friend, but if you do I’m thinking they’re of the native informant variety. Yes, I’m talking about a rented Negro, my cracker.

    Responses to this comment
  • Childe. Missed the sarc tag again. In my defense, I was a fan of the Pistons when, long ago, they were hot. And they were entirely diverse except for Bill Laimbeer. Question: Why is your opinion supposed to interest me? Second question: If you're running a club which happens, by accident, not to include gays in the repertoire of performers or composers, or blacks, ditto, how much money are you prepared to lose when you get some of the marginalized group up there and their music doesn't interest the paying customers? I know. It's not your club and the guys who do own it should go bankrupt to prove to Childe they're down with the struggle. BTW, I did civil rights work in MS in the Sixties when people who talked like you pissed themselves at the thought of going south of Cincinnati. Ever think of how....funny you look?

    Responses to this comment
  • That’s real woke that you were a fan of a team about thirty years with blacks on it, but how many of them were queer people of color, or was that a matter that didn't concern you at the time?

    Responses to this comment
  • Childe. Actually, I don't care for professoinal sports. I was riffing on "diverse". As to the various categories, I don't give a rat's ass. Example. I like to go to youtube and call up Mille Regretz by desPrez. Performed by Paula bar Giese. I do not intend to research their membership in any of the groups you mention. Should some obsessed nutcase bring to my attention something about one or the other, the rat's ass will not be deployed.

    Responses to this comment
  • You don't like sports because they are dominated by POC? Perhaps you should check out equestrian or water polo.

    Responses to this comment
  • Childe. I'm going to insult you presuming you're serious. I only like sports I participated in. Until recently, they were pretty obscure. Fencing, judo, lax. The latter gets a couple of hours tv time in the spring. So there's not much to watch. Not much to equestrian. The family runs to Infantry. Jeez, I feel so dirty. It's so....simple dealing with you. Okay. I'll relent. You don't really believe this stuff, do you? You're not that dumb. You're putting me on, not adding the sarc tag, right?

    Responses to this comment

Register or Login to leave a comment