From this week, we are starting a series on SiliconAfrica, where we go out to learn more about ordinary white people view on the world, white as a race or a brand, and white people relationship with other races or ethnic groups in the world.
Our first interview is with Elisa Ludwig, a world peace activist from Vienna (Austria), who currently works on the idea of a “Global Reconciliation Fund” which purpose would be to help heal the wounds left by the white race on the lives of non-white people worldwide.
In this Interview, Elisa Ludwig, shared with us the story of her first experience with racism, here idea of white privilege, and her hope for a better world for all humans, regardless of class, race, religion or location. Amazing interview.
Do you consider yourself a white person?
What does it mean?
An enormous dimension of privilege.
When did you learn for the first time about what it means to be white?
In primary school. I have been ice skating with my classmates, when a black middle-aged man sat beside the skating field in the near of our group. I didn’t saw him, til suddenly the whole group of children stopped skating, stared at the man and pointed their fingers in his direction. I couldn’t understand what was going on, so I asked a girl next to me, who was pointing at him. She told me, that he is a monster. I asked why, but she wouldn’t answer, repeating that he was a monster. Buffled and unclear about what was happening, I skated to the other side of the field, where my parents sat. I asked them why the children wouldn’t skate any more, but instead were pointing with their fingers and staring with open mouths at that men, telling me, he’d be a monster. My parents explained, that this is a very hurtful reaction of my classmates to someone, who is simply looking differently than they are. And that he is no monster, but a man with darker colored skin than mine. “In fact, those children are acting like monsters, because they humiliate somebody. You remember how those Austrian children treated you, when you came into their class? What they do to this innocent man is quite similar.” I remembered how it was to enter into a new world as migrant kid from Romania in Austria. It was an ugly feeling to be treated badly for no reason. And I realized it was not even near to what this man experienced. Just because his skin was “dark”, and mine was “light”. This was the first realization I can remember.
Do you know other world ethnic group beyond ‘whites?
What does “ethnic group” mean? I can’t see it in this context.
What is currently white people relationship to other ethnic groups worldwide?
Ignoring the fact, that I can’t really understand the term “ethnic group” in this context: Non-blacks (as part of the white collective) generally consider themselves as top of the universe – superior to any othered living collective.
Do you think white people are superior to others ethnic groups?
Are males superior to females? Or are rapists superior to their victims? No, superiority is an illusion – but it can activate real power and oppression. Which is the case in all given examples as well as in relations between non-blacks and blacks.
Is white an ethnic group or a marketing brand or political identity?
A marketing brand transformed into a political identity, in order to profit from the oppression of blacks.
Do you have any idea what other ethnic groups think about white?
How could I answer this, as I am blinded by privilege, unfortunately. But I guess there cannot be “one” single view for “one” collective, as homogeneity within groups doesn’t exist. However, the most powerful tool of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed – thinking about myself being female, I know that many of us admire men, as part of the oppressors (talking about the sphere within the non-black collective). Mostly unconsciously, we suffer from a kind of Stockholm-Syndrome: We rather take on and identify with the male perspectives, than fight against the oppressors and risk our lives (or our happiness, or our comfort or whatever – you name it). I think this is similar to all other oppressed groups. But revolutionaries, fighters, feminists, pioneers … they exist too within those groups, fortunately.
Do you feel that there are more and more hate toward white people?
No. But I dream of more resistance against the non-black oppressors. And I, for myself, feel a lot of guilt lying on my shoulders as descendant of my ancestors and as present beneficiary of past and ongoing oppression. I personally hate white privilege, though I profit from it on a daily basis – most of the time not even realizing it, as it is a main trait of privilege to be invisible and unmarked (which keeps it alive and strong). Maybe more of this hate would be a good motor for transformation? And maybe this kind of hate is only a manifestation of the love we feel towards justice? Better call it struggle for justice, than hate. But however, as long as non-black oppressors are in power positions, there can’t be enough hate to sustainably destabilize hierarchies. There is the urgent need for real political and economic resistance, for broad subversive allies fighting locally and globally against the hegemony of the oppression systems.
What could be a possible way for a reconciliation or peace between the world different ethnic groups?
From the perspective of the oppressors – which is the only authentic perspective I can talk about – I am convinced that those with power necessarily have to take on historical and present responsibility, by deconstructing their privileges. First step: Making those privileges and their unjust nature visible. Second step: Stop reproducing this system. Third step: Redistribute power, resources and opportunities. From the perspective of the oppressed there may be different solutions. My impression here is that a relevant key for ending violent relationships is always cutting off bottom-up dependencies on any level possible, activating own strengths and resources and starting seeing yourself as worthy, important and powerful – no matter what the oppressor tries to manipulate you into thinking about yourself. At least I guess that this is the root of individual and collective empowerment always.
How our readers could get in touch with you?
(If you wish to be interviewed in this series, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org)