Woke-washing in the midst of #BLMPROTESTS

Note: Recently I have been targeted on my social media channels claiming that I am woke-washing my support of the BLM movement. These trolls have been reported on Twitter and LinkedIn. There have been a series of posts on my blog and across my social media channels. Needless to say, this isn't a defensive tirade as I do not tolerate content policing. 

I along with many of us watched the recent events unfold across the US and the world. There is a concern. There is an outrage and there is disbelief. The support of a movement does not mean we are anti-police and pro-looting. It means we focus on and fix the root causes and not just mask symptoms. The movement of racism, exclusion, and disenfranchisement christened #BLMProtests<City> is the movement that we all need despite the colored case that life is encased in. However, in the wake of increasing woke-washing by corporates and individuals, "Black Lives Matter" must not become a mere political label, a popular hashtag to put in your social media and should not be publicized for social advantage.

Being an Inclusion and Diversity proponent it is imperative that I speak for or against. But my work isn't the only reason for me to be vocal. Let me point to the elephant in the room. I have never been looked upon as a threatening entity when it comes to subscribing to the mostly white narrative. We don't like becoming victims of racism ourselves but find it difficult to let go of our ingrained stereotypes that scream "lighter is better.. lighter is more reliable... lighter is more capable."

I can say this with full conviction that I have many times witnessed preferential treatment because of my lighter skin tone and have been told outrightly "Oh, you could pass for a white" I don't stand for it, especially when the darker-skinned person standing next to me is not given a fair treatment. I love the color of my skin tone but I am also aware of the privileges and entitlement I receive because of it. It might sound self-serving to a few (and, I obviously don't care about them) but right now I will only speak for myself and what I am doing to be a facilitator of change.  I don't want to be fake or some self-appointed messiah for BLM when I am still learning what systematic racism looks like, where to find it, and how to weed it out with rapidity. So definitely this is all very personal to me. In all my international travels (40 countries and counting) and work spanning 3 continents (Singapore, UK, USA) and academic studies, I've witnessed and read the pervasive attitude towards people of color.

This is why I don't say people of color, minorities, brown and black, etc. without providing context. There is no natural alignment with another group simply because they are non-white and their desire to align with the trajectory of whiteness is just as oppressive or playing into a system of white supremacy. Anti-black ideology stretches out for millennia across many nations as well as privileges within a society or how racism impacts outcomes. Robin DiAngelo notes in her book "White Fragility" that Black People are the ultimate "Racial Other".

  • Listening, learning, and educating is the only way forward in unlearning biases. Taking time to read books about race and racial prejudices can be that one step that leads to a chain of bigger improvements for all of us. For many this is a good starting point while for others more conversant can speak up and provide their unconditional support. We need a social and intellectual revolution to correct these prejudices that have no place in Humane World. Anybody denying these facts is trying to justify inequality to Black Lives and are comfortable living the way we are now. There may be several issues, but this is an issue that deserves our time and attention now.

-Amit Anand