I’m an old leftie.
I haven’t always been an old leftie because I haven’t always been old, but I have a deep belief in the moral imperative on society to help those who need help. This belief was formed on the anvil of Thatcherism, which was an ideology of class war.
My understanding of social narrative has therefore been through a class-based lens, by which I mean class in the British sense: something close to a caste system where there is little mobility between the strata of society, regardless of wealth.
Given that upbringing, my perception of the police has never been as rosy as many of my heritage: the police were used to break strikes and suppress dissent against Conservative policies. I’ve written before here about how living in Liverpool during the 80s felt a lot like living in Portland now: the people around me have similar views to my own, but the central power in the country has no inclination to listen to those views.
But you’ll notice I haven’t mentioned race. This is my central privilege: I don’t have to.
Because as left-wing as I might be, I am white. I am a white cis het male in a society built by and for white cis het males.
So. I have some learning to do. I’m not starting from a position of no knowledge, but I do not understand the lived experiences of people without the privileges that I have benefited from.
To help me in this learning I am working through Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad. The book speaks quite candidly about how the work of raising consciousness in this matter is going to be difficult. It does help me that the author has a British background, though, however little it should matter objectively. Even as I am aware that British racism is as ingrained as American racism, the British experience is less driven by the wounds of slavery.
Anyway, I’m going to be over here learning and donating to organisations that actually understand the work that needs to be done.