Dear white people,
I’m not sure if what I am going to say is even going to make a difference, as I feel literally everything has been said. I’ve had some interesting interactions with white people on social media recently, so this post isn’t just about the many stories I’m seeing on my Twitter feed or BBC alerts. I must make that clear as one of the many things I have been accused of, is reading things from media outlets that perpetuate a specific point of view. My intention here is to unite us and I realize that there may be times that, that may not be clear, but please keep in mind that is my intention. Please also bear in mind that I use the term white people as they were and are the people in control of said systems discussed below.
Many of the interactions I have had have consisted of points of views meant by white people, to diminish the experience of black and brown people both present day and in the past. In the past, can you imagine that? Over 200 years of the legal slavery of black people, meaning you could own a human being, you know like property. I cannot fathom where any decent human being can break this down the just a mere blemish in our history! There has never been a comparable disgrace in our history and by our, I mean the United States.
That brings me to the next common line I get from white people during interactions of this nature, well the Italians suffered, and the Irish suffered. We’re not taking away the pain and suffering of other people, that never was and never will be our intention. In fact, I would think support and empathy would come natural given one’s own or someone they cared for experience. This isn’t a battle of who has had it worse and quite frankly even if it was, the past speaks for itself. Why does it always have to result to this? Why can’t there just be the obvious understanding that there has been slavery, there has been systematic suppression of black people, beyond the 240 years of slavery and even after the 13th amendment.
The truth is most races got a 240 + year start. That start included the opportunity to get educated, acquire property, and build wealth for both oneself and their families., let alone have a sense of self-worth that one could pass down to their children and their children’s children etc. I don’t understand how it is not obvious to others that white people got a 240 + year head start, on top of the fact that even when slavery ended, there were systems put in place to continue the suppression of black people and they got away with it. Those means include but are not limited to, voter suppression, education limits that caused programs like affirmative action to be put in place to allow black children the same rights as whites, blacks were kept out of communities and the opportunity to acquire property, then forced to create and live in what we now conveniently call low income areas. I would think I wouldn’t even need to touch on what it took a black man or woman to get a job, let alone a job with equal pay to that of a white man or woman with the same credentials one of many reasons the EEO exists today. Many of these programs which many white people cry give black people leverage over them, were put in place because of white people who could not bear to live in a world where black people had the same opportunities or were equal. Do you not see where we were? We are still here today.
Though we are no longer slaves, or being hung from trees, that doesn’t mean the playing field is equal. There are unarmed black people dying at incomprehensible rates, present day in 2018, fucking 2018! You don’t think that has to do with a view our civil servants hold? You think this is just some mere coincidence? Some atrocities don’t even call for you having to be black to be sympathetic and understanding, all you must do is be a parent, or just a human being with a damn conscience.
I’m not sure what exactly it will take to get white people, to back this blatant oppression. Let me be clear, that is what I believe it will take to affect change, white people, if that in it of itself doesn’t speak volumes I don’t know what else will. Black people aren’t trying to take anything away from you, we just want an equal playing field, like for real. I will also venture to say reparations wouldn’t hurt but after all this time and still being where we are today that is highly unlikely. It is fucked up that we are still here and that the pain and suffering that generations of black people have suffered isn’t enough. Equate it to a Jewish person walking out of their home and seeing a swastika, it’s inapprehensible, yet we don’t afford blacks the same empathy even though they see swastikas everywhere they turn still, in all areas of their lives. I keep trying to understand how this is tolerable to a human being with a heart, with empathy and with experience of being hurt or abused in any way. We have women for example and that includes white women. Though the reality is that white women risks their positioning with their white men in supporting a cause of this nature. That is a risk, I don’t think most white women are ready to face, hence their impact on the 2016 election. It’s way easier to just go with the flow than to stand for something and take a risk.
I recently had a female acquaintance post about how a black scalper was pressing her to purchase tickets for a comedy show. She kept telling him no and the man said, “it must be nice to have white privilege”. Though I would agree, not necessarily the right place for a comment like that but currently when is it right? It was true, she was a white woman, hence white privilege. She posted about how this person didn’t know her and her struggles and though that very well may be true, it goes both ways. Nevertheless, I was perplexed at how this person who rarely ever post anything remotely political, decided this is the story she wanted to share, but then again, privilege. She happened to end that post with something to the affect that if people only saw love they wouldn’t see themselves as victims. That pushed me over the edge. You must take responsibility over the fact that the only time you decide to post something “political” in nature, is when you feel you’ve been wronged but fail to comment on the multiple injustices occurring in our world every damn day. This infuriated me and led to me commenting in a calm manner like wtf were you thinking? To which I then was critized by a few white people over slavery, the consensus was get over it and we’ve all suffered. It is frankly ignorant and selfish. I cannot feign to understand as white privilege is obviously for whites only, but it must be nice to choose how you get to see the world and not actually engage in the world that is currently existing around you. That is a privilege afforded mostly to white people.
I know a few people of color who don’t speak out about racism, police brutality or any other injustices facing people of color today, but I know what they had for dinner. This boggles my mind, I don’t think one has to be political to give a shit, one only must be human. Some of these people have kids, and I wonder, is that not enough reason for you to take a stand, there is power in numbers. The differences between us and how we choose to react/respond versus ignore and self-preserve, only lead me to one conclusion, ignorance is bliss. That is, until it happens to you or someone you love. But, why wait for that?
What we need right now is more people speaking out and not tolerating in any way shape or form, any racism and risking enough to hold people, all people, even powerful people, accountable. If this truly is not the world you want to live in, I don’t see what would hold you back. We are not asking for only those guilty of racism to speak. We are asking for those who don’t support racism to speak, especially if you’re white. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, people listen when you talk, people see what you do, and they care. No one clearly has listened to all that people of color have said throughout the years. Doing this doesn’t mean you are you directly responsible. However, doing nothing is just capitalizing on a system that listens to you and just tolerates the rest of us.
Acknowledging and understanding how racism works is vital for it to end. Imagine what it is to know that other people see you as a physical threat, inferior or your life of less value simply because of the color of your skin. That a white person can say and do the same thing you do and be heard and valued far more. When there is a lack of understanding the only recourse is to put ourselves in the other shoes. I rack my brain as to why when it comes to black people, is this so difficult to do?
You can start by asking the question, are these ideas/opinions that I have mine? Or could it this just the result of your family, lineage, culture and/or environment? How do you benefit from stating that affirmative action makes white people the oppressed? As if after 240 years of slavery with no reparations and living in a present-day reality where celebrities, CEO’s, your neighbor and even the president, can say and do things that continue to reinforce the system that has been and continues to systematically oppress people of color. How do you benefit from stating there is no more slavery get over it, but see the obvious injustices happening every single day to people of color and think this is just a blip, that there is no affiliation/continuation to the history and treatment of colored people? Black people want to be victims? How would the systematic suppression of our people be something black people want to perpetuate? Do you think Kaepernick kneels and loses a career over keeping his people oppressed? I cannot hear arguments like this anymore because they make no sense at all and it’s honestly just a cop out to acknowledging you’re complicit in this system whether you say so or not.
If that is where you are, I implore you, ask yourself how you ended up there and if you have no answer, then dig. Dig and keep asking yourself questions and study how you interact with others and why? Where do your kneejerk reactions come from? When did you collapse, being a patriot with being against racism and other clear injustices. Or why can’t you understand how affirmative action is menial when you look at the profound social, educational and economic impacts of over 200 years of suppression and domination based on race. Ask and keep asking and ask others to ask themselves until you hear something different. I can’t guarantee you’ll end up in any specific place, but do the work, millions of lives depend on it. My children’s lives depend on it, I beg of you.
Live your truth, not one that has been passed down to you or shoved down your throat by those around you People of color aren’t going anywhere and they’re not trying to take anything from you. However, we do all share the same planet, the same countries and the same towns. What do we really want the future to look like? We can do better than this as a human race. We gain a lot more when we work together. Yes, we have a ways to go, but every voice make a difference, every one of us has the responsibility to take action in order to be a player in the world we want to create. Own where we are, own the history, and let us build from there. We cannot change the past, but we do get to dictate our future, and all of our futures depend on it.