When I've tried to describe racism/sexism/bigotry to people standing in privilege in relationship to the issue, I use an analogy where I call it "factory installed programming." Racism, sexism, gender identity phobia, are all factory installed programming courtesy of our white supremacist society. I find it disrupts the train of thought that leaps from "you're talking about racism" to "you're calling ME a racist." We live in a culture that immediately upon identification of a problem, seeks a person or a thing to blame for its existence, as if this is always the way to get at a solution. So white people hear someone say "racism is a problem" and immediately center themselves in that ideation and look for who is being blamed, and immediately look to deflect that blame from themselves. (Hence, "not all white people" or its more defensive cousin "you're calling ME a racist.") Calling it "factory installed programming" helps break that immediate blame jump because the "factory installed" ideation immediately lets people know that no one thinks the racism you may be carrying around is there because you chose it, but because you've been socialized to it. And it also allows for the fact that undoing your social programming is hard work, and if you've ever tried to uninstall some kinds of software on your computer, you know it's hard to root out all the files. You uninstall, and then two weeks later you find a folder with more files in a directory 3 levels down in your system directory and you're like, "I thought I got rid of that!!" And trying to be anti-racist can feel like that. You think you've done the work, and then you discover that you're not done yet, there's still some racist bullshit lurking about in your actions and thoughts and words and you have to get back at it. Defeating your own programming is hard. All of that said, there ARE intentional racists out there who do CHOOSE their racist ideation and coddling them with the idea that it's just "factory installed programming" is inappropriate. So the analogy is only of limited use. Also, there is a place at which once you know the programming is there, and you don't do the work to uninstall it, you're choosing its presence there, which is another thing.

A believer in magic and justice and the right to be exactly as you are. Anything passing for wisdom here is likely the product of surviving my own stupidity.

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