It’s Time to Stop Talking About Racism With White People

Zack Linly, Washington Post, September 7, 2016

As reports of police overreach and brutality in the black community become more and more commonplace in mainstream news, many black people are feeling a strange combination of frustration and relief–relief because the shootings of unarmed citizens have become part of a national discussion, but frustration because, time and time again, we hear the same dismissive and deflective responses from white America:

“There must be more to the story.”

“If you people would just do what you’re told.”

“Cops have a hard job.”

“White people get shot too.”

“He was just another thug. Good riddance!”

“Why do you people make everything about race?”

“What about black on black crime?”

All lives matter.”

I’ve grown too disillusioned to be relieved and too numb to be frustrated. I’m just tired.

{snip}

Why are we losing solid hours out of our day, wearing our fingertips numb on keyboards and touch screens in an attempt to explain to some dense dude-bro why “All lives matter” is a messed up and functionally redundant response to “Black lives matter”?

We’ve spelled it out for white America a hundred different ways that their beloved police forces are full of officers who are simply more volatile, fearful and prone to harassment and abuse of power when dealing with us–and it’s costing us our lives. We’ve laid out all the statistics and all of our millions of personal testimonies. {snip}

{snip}

Can we please stop?

We need to stop acting like white people don’t take the same reading comprehension portions of standardized tests all through middle and high school that we do. They know how analogies work. They got it the first time–they just didn’t care.

{snip}

Could it be, and I’m just spit-balling here, but could it be that white folks are . . . completely full of it?

This is why I submit that black people should simply disengage with white America in discussions about race altogether. Let them have their little Klan-esque chats in the Yahoo and USA Today comment sections. We need to stop arguing with them because, in the end, they aren’t invested like we are. They aren’t paying attention to these stories out of fear for their lives and the lives of their children and spouses; they are only tuned in out of black and brown contempt. This is trivial to them, a contest to see who can be the most smug, condescending and dismissive. When black people debate these issues, we do so passionately–not always articulately, and often without a whole lot of depth to our arguments–but we always come from a place of genuine frustration, outrage and fear. When most white people debate the very same issues from an opposing stance, they do so from a place of perpetual obtuseness and indifference. Their arguments always seem to boil down to “If it isn’t my experience, it couldn’t possibly be yours.” Even “well meaning” white folks tend to center themselves in the discussion (#NotAllWhitePeople #IDontSeeColor). Yes, there are plenty of white people who aren’t racist, who think shouting “Blue Lives Matter” is wrong, who truly do wish things would change. But the fact is, they figuratively and literally have no skin in the game.

I understand that white people are mad. They’ve gone their whole lives being the default for social and cultural normalcy and never really had to think critically about race at all. Now a black first lady addresses the nation, and she talks about slavery. Now social media identifies and challenges their micro-aggressions. They’re getting the tint snatched off of their rose-colored glasses; that “Shining City on the Hill” they know as America is starting to lose some of its gloss. And they ain’t here for that–but we are.

So we need to let them cry. Let them gripe about how white is the new black and they are now the true victims of racism because their black co-workers don’t invite them to lunch or some black guy on the train called them a cracker or because black people on the interwebs hurt feelings. (How nice it must be to have the option of simply logging off of your oppression.) We need to let them cry. And we need to learn how to just sit our intellectual selves back and enjoy it.

{snip}

Black people, it is long past time for us to start practicing self-care. And if that means completely disengaging with white America altogether, then so be it.

Topics: ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.