Winners against Racism

I recently attended a teenage workshop for the Nordic countries. We were ten People of the Global Majority (PGM)—four teenagers and six adults. It was the first time we had such a big group of PGM. Twenty-eight people were white. I came as an ally to support the relationships between the teenagers and their parents.

I soon saw that racism was playing out among the teenagers—competition, going silent, and so on. I pointed this out to another PGM adult. Afterward I went and talked to the leaders’ team (five people, all white). I noticed that I didn’t need to care take of the white leaders’ feelings as much as usual. But I was scared. My legs were shaking. There were two things I didn’t dare to say.

The following morning I told the leaders’ team that I wanted to talk to them again, and I addressed the things I hadn’t mentioned before. They followed my suggestions, which were as follows:

1) I suggested that we have physical counseling sessions and fight for ourselves, which is how we can fight for other people. I talked to the women and said I wanted us to reach our voices as women, trust our thinking, think well about the other women, and deepen our connections. We split up into two groups, with the PGM women in one room and white women in another. (The men met separately for their physical counseling sessions.)

2) A PGM supported me as I pointed out that racism needed to be addressed by the whole group. I explained how racism was playing out at the workshop and described its effects on the PGM—being silenced, backing away from what we wanted, and feeling discouraged.

These two initiatives made a huge difference for the relationships between the PGM teenagers and the white teenagers, as well as for the adults’ relationships. We all got much closer. The PGM teenagers immediately occupied more space.

I am proud that I trusted my mind, shared my thinking, and did not let internalized racism silence me.

I also met with the PGM adults several times to build closer bonds. Most of us have known each other for many years. I realized that our relationships have reached the point where internalized racism can no longer split us apart. We are invincible. We are winners against racism. I’m proud that the PGM teenagers get to see that we can fight our way through the internalized racism. We have each other.

Sujata Maini

Stockholm, Sweden

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of South, Central, and West Asian-heritage people

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00