I’m reposting my blog titled “Learning to love white men” that I wrote a few years ago because in the aftermath of the US election, it seems a “blame white men” article is being published every five seconds and it troubles me. In my view, this is a lazy type of analysis. Categorically blaming whole segments of society lacks nuance at best and at worst, it reinforces the same problem of prejudice that needs rectifying.
Demonising white men creates more problems than solutions. I know it’s hard to find the right words to express the very real oppression that our gendered and racial identities face but if we aren’t bothered to find a language that reflects the complexity of the struggle then the solution will be simplistic.
Furthermore, many of the “blame white men” articles gloss over the fact that white women also voted for Trump in droves.To quote the ever prescient words of Audre Lorde, “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.”
Solidarity with my white and black brothers and sisters and to EVERYONE on the right side of justice.
I’d hate for my experience on earth to be lived with a heart containing animosity towards fellow human beings.
We may act like different races are different species due to the irrational inventions of some power hungry ancestors of the human race, but I don’t want that confusion to make me equally disillusioned about our shared humanity. All humans are beautiful to me.
But we live in contradictory times. While there is a growing agitation and mockery of white male privilege in liberal circles, there’s simultaneously only been a cosmetic change in power hierarchy. White men rule the world as it were, and they often do so arrogantly and with false morality, as if the big bang exploded last night. You know? Take as an example how David Cameron is threatening African countries that ban homosexuality with aid sanctions. Would his government sanction the religious institution that was economically imposed on Africa during colonialism and that largely created homophobia in the first place? It would certainly be equally morally corrupt.
Especially since age thirteen, when I moved from Nigeria to Sweden, I’ve encountered challenging dealings with white men as a group. For example, within months in my new school in Sweden, my close friend, an Egyptian girl who also edits a blog, and I were chased by a group of white supremacist extremist boys down the corridors threatening to kill us. I was terrified.
I also developed quick physically, so at that age, my adult stature attracted unwelcome attention especially from older white men. To summarise, over the years there’s been racism/sexism – subtle and overt – often sexually/racially laden from white male colleagues, schoolmates, bosses, professors and strangers.
So to be terribly honest, generally speaking there is a place inside me where I’m watching my back around white men.
It’s easier for me to have great relationships with white women. This has to do with the woman who means the most to me in this world, my mother, being white but also with our shared gender. In fact, out of all the wrongdoings of white men the worst is perhaps what they have done to their counterpart woman. This is why many 1st and 2nd wave feminists were so angry, they had millennia of extreme oppression bottled up. And as a side note, I think this is why if we don’t keep challenging sexism in Africa, there will come a point when African women will get equally mobilized and turn society upside down by doing things like they did, hunger strikes, mass protests, burning of bras (although no bras were actually burnt).
White men have contributed in many noteworthy ways to the world that I so love, through western architecture, modern infrastructure, avant garde cuisine, philosophical thought, technology… just a few examples.
It’s not going to happen in one day, but I’m going to learn to love white men in a way that means I can co exist with them without a wall in my heart, appreciatively, wholeheartedly and genuinely.—
Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.