When we congratulate white people for being advocates against racism, we make this complacency the norm. We shouldn’t put them on a pedestal for caring about the oppression of people of colour – if they are good people, they will care about racism and white supremacy. At a larger scale, we need to stop applauding white people for being antiracists; again, morally decent people will believe that people of colour are equals and should be treated as such. What should be the norm is disapproval of anyone who displays the aforementioned complacency. Though it may sound harsh, social pressure is incredibly important in affecting social norms. When we as a society expect all people to be antiracist, this is what will become the case.
The above paragraph has been adapted from the work of Marissa Cornelius, who expertly describes plaudits that men receive for their feminism. I have replaced the subject with race; the issue is interchangeable and applies to all protected characteristics.
UK educators adhere to ‘Teachers’ Standards’:
Teachers’ Standards 1
A teacher must:
1 Set high expectations which inspire, motivate and challenge pupils
a) establish a safe and stimulating environment for pupils, rooted in mutual respect.
b) set goals that stretch and challenge pupils of all backgrounds, abilities and dispositions.
c)demonstrate consistently the positive attitudes, values and behaviour which are expected of pupils.
Teachers’ standard 1 originates from the work of Dr. Robert Rosenthal. The Rosenthal or the Pygmalion effect can be summed up as:
If you expect more of people, this has a positive impact on their outcomes.
The converse, the golem effect is also true, expect less of people and, you guessed it, they step up or down to the plate.
Choosing actions that support anti-racism, feminism, etc. should not be commended or even advertised. No matter which much you as a person has learned, grown and been a do-gooder.
But Pran, People do not choose their colour, gender, sexuality, etc.
I agree, but they do certainly accept the benefits without challenge. This writing isn’t the place for me to justify these benefits, if that’s where you are in your journey, read these blogs first – What is privilege? How to use your privilege for good?
I am stoic in approach to my activism; words mean nothing without actions and actions mean nothing if they aren’t in the vein of sacrifice. That all sounds like pretty rhetoric, and it is in part until we live it.
As a man, I think it is great that I use my words and thoughts to support women, go Pran the saviour of all women, give me my medal, wait… What do these words and thoughts achieve? Generally, diddly squat, please don’t give me or anyone else props for accomplishing nothing, what has happened though is that I have met the societal expectation. I have finished, I am done, I am off to shine my shiny new medal.
Actions and sacrifice are right then, Pran?
Yes, this is the aim when you utilise your privilege to act in a way which supports the oppressed that is the hallowed place.
Is this when we lavish encomiums?
While we use superlatives to describe the privileged for being a decent people and redressing the balance in a wholly unjust world, what are we doing? and accepting the fawning, what does that do?
Humility is an essential part of this work, while a privileged person is advertising the fruits of their labour. Where is the emphasis? The oppressed are still being oppressed, and this is the kicker the people in privilege (who people are throwing roses at) are still systemically benefitting from that oppression.
Please do return your medals and cookies. Let’s all work for a more just society because it’s the right thing to do and if you want to praise anyone, praise the oppressed because they live their lives and experience life in a way you and I could not imagine.