If you haven’t heard the term ‘white yourself up’, or whiteness being used as a seperate behaviour for POC, then you’re either white, or don’t know enough POC (or live in a country where this isn’t a thing). For the rest of us living in a white mans world we kind of have to ‘white ourselves up’ as a basic survival mechanism and that is called assimilation. We don’t get the benefit of really being our true selves because in order to do that we risk being ‘othered’ or ostracised or even just never having a chance to make money and navigate our capitalist world.
So what is ‘whiteing yourself up’?
It honestly ranges from little to big things like:
- Shortening your ethnic name or allowing yourself to have a ‘fun’ nickname because your name is difficult to pronounce.
- Preteding to understand white banter (I refuse to believe people actually get it)
- Skipping on talking about your race, your culture and your heritage because colonisation fucked it up and you can’t speak about these things without being condemned.
- Not talking about racism, discrimination.
- Looking down at groups of people within your own race or other races.
- Saying ‘I’m not like <insert race> people’ .
- Not using slang terms.
- Not speaking in your language.
- Fighting the urge to be pro-Black or pro-Asian in terms of language, clothing and your general aesthetic.
- Not wearing symbols of your race, culture or religion.
The list goes on and writing it is annoying me so I’ll just state some of the extremes. We have people of colour in government condemnig immigrants because they truly in their heart have whitened themselves up to the point of forgetting how their parents/grandparents got them to the country they live in. We also have POC people who are pro-Brexit – which is ridiculous as the second that drops we’re all fucked – yes even you, with your good job, and your white friends, it doesn’t matter, at the end of the day when you walk into a room all they see is your skin colour.
When your a person of colour living in the Western world it’s kind of difficult to navigate it without having to fall on these methods, because on some level we do need to assimilate in order to function. Some people use the word integrate, but that suggests a manner of choice and to be perfectly honest we don’t.
Anyone who says otherwise is either painfully ignorant or probably someone who’s neglecting their own truth (yes those two options are the same, but one sounds nicer right?).
It’s weird how we kind of have to do this, because some of us even have a ‘white people’ tone when it comes to answering phones or presenting ourselves in job interviews and when you really break it down we’re just putting in an extensive amount of effort to appear palatable and non threatening to the world which is intrinsically fucked up.
Due to our physical features like our skin tone, our hair, our clothes and anything that isn’t ‘white’ we’re automatically in the red when it comes to how threatening we are. It’s why anyone who dares to say anything is automatically assumed to be aggressive and sassy, and anyone who is excessively timid is just normal when in reality we’re just trying our best to not get killed, attacked or even fired because we dared to behave like our white counterparts.
The way we navigate our white world isn’t healthy and honestly I feel like the fact that we have to overthink everything fucks us up. I’ve even made the mistake of being myself, and let me tell you that shit gets you fucked over in the wonderful world of employment.
This post started off weird and got very political, it wasn’t planned and honestly I’m going to end it here as I’m about to go out of my house.