Munroe Bergdorf: Why Are We All So Scared Of Talking About Racism?
The activist fired by L'Oreal thinks it's time to talk but also time to listen.
Racism. It's not always a topic that's easy to talk about, but that's why it's even more important to keep it as part of an ongoing dialogue. Because if we don't talk about race and discrimination, events like the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August will keep on happening.
And while most of us would hopefully agree that there is no question that racial prejudice is wrong, if we're not acknowledging that white privilege and systemic racism still exist at every level within the societies in which we live, can we really say that we are doing enough to erase it?
Watch Munroe Bergdorf explain her thoughts on why we need to open up conversations about systemic racism below...
Activist and DJ Munroe Bergdorf, who you might know for recently hitting headlines after she was fired from a L'Oreal campaign celebrating diversity because a Facebook post she wrote about racism was taken out of context ad published in the Daily Mail, thinks it's extremely important for people - and particularly those people who enjoy white privilege - to understand that this is not a personal attack, but a criticism of society's treatment of people of colour as a whole, both past and present.
"White privilege means that white people have better access to healthcare, employment opportunities, housing, credit - it's being treated by society the lighter skinned you are," Munroe explains to MTV News. "You may be conscious of it or you may not be conscious of it, but I'm speaking about the privilege that all white people are born into. It is the case that if you aren't actively fighting against something and you see it happening or you're told about something and you choose to ignore it then you are complicit in that."
Her point is that if you aren't a PoC then you need to be more open to listening to those who actually experience racism firsthand.
"One thing I really encounter a lot is when speaking to someone who doesn't experience racism themselves ie. white people, I think people feel like they need to defend themselves, like they need to prove that they aren't racist themselves and there's this push back," Munroe continues. "If people stop pushing back and start listening to people of colour when they are speaking about racism, and just acknowledge that when we're speaking about racism and racist people and racist bias, we're not talking about them [as individuals]."
"If you know for sure you aren't racist then there's nothing to push back against. We're literally talking about sociological values that are passed down unconsciously. Essentially we are brainwashed, we live in a brainwashed society where we're told certain things; we're told anything over a size 12 isn't beautiful or anybody who isn't straight is somehow queer in a bad way or trans isn't beautiful. We're told all of these things that aren't true that don't need to be the case but it takes for us to reject them and call them out and make new values that are really constructive and positive."
So what can you personally do to help make a positive change? Watch the video with Munroe above for her advice on changing the way address systemic racism.