I was recently branded a “racist” for using the term “jip” in an Instagram post, a word that I always grew up knowing as generic Yorkshire slang for “hassle”.
My understanding & use of “jip” with the same informal, inoffensive intent as the likes of “being pain in the neck/giving a bit of agro”.
The white person calling me a racist did so because they believed the word to be a racist slur against the traveller community.
I, of course, jumped to my own defense in explaining to them that it may be a homophone in that it is just one definition of or use of the word, which, in context of my post, was not a racial slur but a bit of lighthearted northern slang.
It wasn’t til a few – and far more educated! – Insta friends backed me up & confirmed the origin of the term “jip” – which comes from another “jippy tummy” – is from Lord Kitchener’s army going to Egypt in the 1880s & 1890s.
Research showed that while, yes, both of our meanings were not incorrect, neither of us were using the term “correctly”.
Naturally, I thanked them for bringing it to my attention & for opening my eyes as it had never once occurred to my white privilege that “jip” may be a derogatory term.
I may have had a lack of wider understanding of the word I’d just used but I am most definitely not racist.
Long story short, I was still berated by this person (who also argued against the friends who had tried to educate & reason with them, branding them all racist too) for explaining & defending myself.
I stood my ground with the example of still referring to the dilute juice I drink as “squash” despite the very same term also having connotations of fat fetish – in the use of homophones in the English language, context is vital in understanding which of the several meanings is intended.
Anyway, instead of dealing with this like an educated adult, they proceeding to call me & my friends racist (I believe the quote was “most people who are racist can’t handle the fact either”) & immediately block everyone involved in the interactions before giving any further chance to justify our thoughts or findings.
For this reason I steered clear of using my online voice to support the #blacklivesmatter movement after the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of white police officer Derek Chauvin on 25th May 2020.
I didn’t want to risk innocently writing something with good intent to be misinterpreted & to have my own words used against me to brand me a racist. Because, while I might be many things, I am not racist.
I didn’t realise that in doing this, in not speaking up against the traumatic injustice faced by black people & ethnic minorities, I have acted in a racist way.
Using my white privilege of shielding myself from unnecessary negative aspersions is a racist act in itself & I knew then that I needed to use my voice – albeit not a well respected or widely heard voice – in support of those who don’t get that privilege to shield themselves from the hate they face just because of the colour of their skin.
But I’m unknown, so will sharing links of petitions in support of Black Lives Matter online even make a difference if nobody sees them?
And I’m medically “vulnerable” in the middle of the ongoing global pandemic, so can I still show support despite not backing up my words with actions at local protests?
And I’m short of disposable income, so can I even do anything if can’t solidify my words with financial donations to the cause?
In a word: yes!
One single voice can easily get lost in the roar of a crowd but when the voice is part of the roar, along with every other single voice that makes up the roar, it creates something powerful.
There are many things that I can do to not just be non-racist but be anti-racist in solidarity with friends of colour.
There are many things we can all do right now without spending a single penny or even leaving our plush, save lockdown homes of white privilege.
Everyday Is A Schoolday
Instead of sitting back & letting Susanna Reid dripfeed us our daily news while we dose ourselves up on caffeine in a morning, we can actively educate ourselves on the world around us & current affairs surrounding black minorities. And it doesn’t even have to be academic research but simply watching some of the educational sources on Netflix & YouTube.
Make Your Mark
Sign the petitions. Plural; petitions. It’s a very sad state of affairs that there are so many petitions against the injustice of people of colour in 2020 but each & every one of them need all of our signatures.
Sharing Is Caring
And, more than just being caring, sharing the online work of black activists & creators helps #amplifymelanatedvoices that are often drowned out on social media by the white noise of caucasian activists/creators.
We can further amplify melanated voices by pressing pause on our own media feeds & replacing our own original content with ways in which we can help support the Black Live Matter movement.
Many black YouTubers gain an income through monetising their content like this video with paid ads from brands, so we can help creators of colour literally at the touch of a button when we press play on their videos & watch them through.
Call Out The Bullshit
It takes guts to call out brands & companies for not representing black communities in their whitewashed marketing, but it takes even more guts to turn a blind eye & let it continue after having our world opened to the lack of opportunities offered to ethnic minorities. All it takes is a quick DM to confront them with their own facts to start the change.
Forgive the use of a Squeeze lyric, but we’ve got to throw the stone to get the pool to ripple.
We all need to make a stand.
We all need to stand together.
We all need to stand up against the injustice & make changes happen.
Mrs Walmsley | The Unseasoned Wag x
(“How To Use White Privilege To Make A Stand Against Racism” was first published by Mrs Dani Walmsley for The Unseasoned Wag blog)