Readers, there are two terms which are fast becoming topical and supposedly politically correct following the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the greater evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement. These are Unconscious. Bias and White Privilege. Conversely, I would like to take this opportunity to flip the script and change the narrative to reflect my reality.
Let me go straight in, If we are going to discuss unconscious bias I have to ask the most pivotal question here: Who decided to construct this term "unconscious bias" when it is steeped in white privilege?
With white privilege comes bias. So, what does that bias look like? To say it is unconscious means that you are not even aware of what you are doing it because what that means for all intents and purposes is to really negate all responsibility for your actions whilst simultaneously distancing yourself from my pain. Readers do you see this as I do, as being a totally preposterous term.
My definition would be to apply unfavourable treatment to someone other than yourself because of an in-depth sense of superiority one race over another. The fact that you say this bias is unconscious leads me to believe it is a conscious definition created to absolve anyone under that umbrella of their responsibility in a so-called "civil" society.
Let me expand, you know you are privileged by virtue of your skin colour, not your socioeconomic status, or even geographical location. You exert superiority over me because of this so-called privilege which initially examines me via erroneous preconceived stereotypical assumptions, which factually always leads to prejudice, then covet or overt acts of racism.
I find it equally ironic at this time that there are now virtual classes being offered on “Unconscious Bias” and “Well Being” but yet there are no virtual classes which help me to understand why your consciousness never awoke to my melancholic experiences suppressed over the span of my lifetime. I will categorically state that your actions are totally conscious, metered out without apology!
I am also now exposed to pockets of “well being” programs specifically signposted for post-Covid19 persons suffering from stress and anxiety. Conversely, these programs bring out a definition of well being that does not fit my existence. Again is this unconscious bias? Please note that what "well being" looks like from a white privileged standpoint is never going to be my reality which is totally distinct from that given terminology.
Let's go a little further, into this misconceived excuse for racism called unconscious bias and critique this: The British Government via mainstream media has told the world that I, as a BAME, with or without underlying conditions will have a higher propensity to contract Covid19, and guess what nobody knows why this is. Well, thanks, Government and mainstream media I was already stigmatised, disenfranchised and stereotyped for being a BAME and now you have told the world that I am more likely to contract Covid19 and thus potentially more likely to spread it and then you want to tell me you have an unconscious bias, please!
To all persons who want to understand what it is to be BAME a term to which I resent, and take absolute offence. Let me slow down. You may ask why I resent that term? It is a fact that so-called "BAMEs" when collated across the entire world and let's go there, are the majority. So, my friends, I am NOT a minority, I despise being called a minority. I am a part of the majority but I cannot say that because that is not politically correct, I must take your tag and live with it. I have news for you this is not our narrative as propounded by “well-meaning” privileged white persons.
When we examine these terms “well being” “unconscious bias” and “white privilege” against our reality what am I left with? Melancholy!
Readers, we so-called BAMEs have for far too long over-compensated for what is now dubbed “unconscious bias”.
For those of you “white privileged people” who have been telling me “Oh, I am so sorry - I really did not understand what was going on until I saw what happen to George Floyd, I really had no idea.”
I would respond, Yes you did have an idea, I am not your neighbour, I do not live in Suffolk, our kids do not go to the same school, you would rather commute 6 hrs a day than live beside me, we speak because we have to, not because you want to, you do not permit me to enter your social circle but leave me on the outskirts wondering what your life is really like. Not having to worry about housing, education, employment, financing, schooling your children, the police, your colleagues - Come on now, can we be real! Tell me what is it that you really understand?
Let me say this before anyone reading this begins to form a well-known typically stereotypical assumption about women like me, that is chiselled out in concrete. No I am not an angry black woman, with a chip on her shoulder and even if I was why am I not, entitled to be who I choose to be and more so, verbalise it. I wonder if you are now seeing what I have witnessed over the span of my whole life?
I wonder if anybody understands what George Floyd did for us as a people, he opened up Pandora’s box - enabling people like me to stand on it and shout from the rooftops - I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am sick and tired of political correctness! Which merely serves to suppress and muzzle my God-given feelings and expression? I need to rewrite my narrative without fear of eternal judgement or reprisal.
I am of the "Windrush" first-generation black British and have been through the English educational system and am where I am today. However, had my parents have taken the advice of the then Careers Officer, I would have been working for Sainsbury's for the past 40 years not wanting much more for my life. Conversely, many observers may perceive by societal standards that I have achieved much but at what cost to my well being?
Having always to compete for my way through life, go ten times harder than my peers. Having once been told: well actually you should have attained a 2:1 degree but you were too vocal so we marked you down by 1 point – yes 1 point and gave you a 2:2
instead to teach you a lesson but we will (by way of conscious bias) recommend you for a Masters Degree but learn this lesson, never come into any educational institution wanting to change the world! We turn out parrots not intellects, so do not get it twisted.
We are never given a day off from having to prove our worth it is 365 days a year and operates on every facet of our life experiences. So if I am soon to be 60 years old tell me how many times have I had to say "You want me to jump? Just tell me how high, I will do so just to make you look as if you know what you are doing just to enable me to pay my bills?
Over the years I have suffered from low: self-esteem, self-worth, apathy to life and the future why? Because I was never good enough. Nearly good but never good enough.
When I see an act of racism coming towards me, I would rather it not be me, I rather it be someone else because to this day it still hurts and the pre-existing wounds have not been healed.
To be perfectly honest, I would rather stand in front of an articulated lorry and take a hit from the lorry and blatantly state, that was an accident on their part and a deliberate act on my part. Conversely, acts of racism are never accidents they are deliberate acts, constructed to have the desired negative effect, to, produce a subservient non-human creature that silently begs not to be beaten anymore.
It gets worst when the act is actualised, you further taunt me by covertly telling to smile, "get over it" regardless of how you may me feel, show me your acceptance of my cowardly behaviour by being that “team player” “that token” by showing inadvertently saying to us that you would really want to be one of us. Really? Who told you that? Where did that assumption come from? You want me to condone your failure to treat me as a human being, by me being so subservient that my own feelings of being not being validated, unheard, unwanted, unappreciated are discarded in your unconscious bias founded in white privilege.
Maslow, a famous philosopher established the 5-tier hierarchy of needs. It denotes self-actualisation at the top of the pyramid. Then comes: self-esteem, belonging, safety and our physiological needs. If we adopt this theory as being founded, against my well being. It becomes abundantly clear, that someone failed somewhere.
If I am not validated as a person, I then cannot self-actualise, I see myself nowhere on the pyramid of needs from a white privileged person "well being" perspective. These needs have been withheld from me at every given point in my life. I was told I am the "gollywog" “nigger” “coon” in the playground, I am continually made to feel less than a person by being told, “go back to the jungle” or “go back to your own country” To which I ask well where exactly is that? You erased my history, so I have not a clue about where I come from and furthermore the last time I checked I had a British passport.
So it is ironic then that when society speaks so loosely about well being? I have to ask whose “well being”, from whose perspective, because if it is mine, I cannot own your concept because I have no perception of well being, I never have and perhaps sadly, I never will.
These last few months as shown me in no uncertain terms that all the revolutionary acts of the civil rights movement all around the world has been an absolute waste of time and then comes then now infamous Black lives matters movement, but who created that? it certainly was not me for me. So no I will not put up my right hand in solidarity with you, because I don’t know you?
I am so tired of fighting, I am tired of apologizing for your racist acts, I just want to get up and not be traumatized by hearing my son’s friend has been needlessly stabbed to death, or his father has been locked up for the 20th time for a minor road traffic offence and then accused of being a drug dealer because his car does not fit his socio-economic profile. When George Floyd repeatedly said he can't breathe? I have to tell you I also cannot breathe, my windpipe has been tied up with the rhetoric of unconscious bias founded in white privilege.
Delma Pryce (c) August 2020