- Dec 2006
- New Haven, CT
Not Every Black Experience Needs Your White Opinion
Actually, None of Them Do
I read this piece this morning, and thought, "My God - she's writing about me!" I mean, I hope not - but I'm sure she is. Because I'm opinionated and outspoken and quick to impart my viewpoint, I'm sure I've butted into a discussion which was not about me, not concerning my life, and not invited into.
So, for every time I've unintentionally offended - or, at the least, irritated, a POC unintentionally by speaking up when not wanted/needed/asked to, I'm posting this excellent article.
I'm sure those who need it most either won't read it, won't 'get it,' or won't care. But, for others, I hope we can take our white privilege and keep our mouths shut when they're not required ... at the least, I'm going to try.
I wear my hair natural. It’s thick and kinky, and I love it. But I will complain when it’s time to detangle and give it some love. I was talking about this process with a black coworker, when one of my white female coworkers overheard me and said, “Oh, I feel the same way about mine.” Then she flips her straight-ass hair over her shoulder. See? It’s mess like this right here. How is she gonna try to say she can relate to me? Seriously? Does she know about the culture surrounding black hair? No, Becky Jane. Just no.
What about when I discuss racism online and a white person says they’ve experienced racism, too, because they have red hair? And they can relate to what black folks go through? No, Sean, you can’t. First of all, the word “racism” — I don’t think that word means what you think it means. You probably faced discrimination, but you’re not being marginalized by systematic oppression that started when your ancestors were brought here as slaves. Nice try though. And when I talk about my ancestors being slaves, don’t respond with “So were the Irish.” No, they weren’t. Indentured servitude and slavery are not synonymous. And by the way, you’re an idiot. Man, everybody wanna be black until it’s time to actually be black. (highlight in original post)
And lest we forget those white people who see anything slated just for black folks — an event, a group, a damn Facebook post — and have to insert their needy selves, usually with some nonsense about us being divisive and racist. Yeah, there’s that word again. So Teri and Steve, when black people carve out space for us to talk just amongst ourselves, it means this: WE DON’T WANT YOUR OPINION. If we wanted it, we would have asked you for it.
How about white people who, anytime they hear about Black Lives Matter, they insist it’s a racist organization? Look, if you don’t want to support BLM — and by extension black people — then keep it pumpin’, Ashley. Just admit that you don’t want to be part of the solution. Then go find your pink pussy hat and march around your gentrified neighborhood.
The sad thing is that these are supposed to be “liberal” white folks. And damn it, if they aren’t as bad as Trump supporters. If you aren’t the absolute center of everything, you have a tantrum and fall out on the floor like a 2-year-old in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart.
Why y’all do that? No seriously. I wanna know. Why is it that, if I’m talking about how hard it was growing up as a black girl in a racist Midwestern town, you feel the need to say, “Well, try living in a third-world country. It’s way worse.” Shut up, Kyle. By the way, Kyle has spent time in the Peace Corp, so he knows all about “the struggle.”
Lawd have mercy, white people.
And for the love of gawd, white women, stop saying you understand racism because you’ve experienced sexism. This is apples and chili. Not even in the same food group, not even in the same food aisle. Your white skin gives you so much privilege. I know. I know. That hurts your little white supremacist heart, but suck it up, Sarah.
And while I’m at it, when I tell you that someone is racist, don’t respond with, “Larry’s not racist. You just have to get to know him.” The hell I do. See, this right here is why I can’t trust you. You get all up in your feelings when I question you about being an ally, then throw me under the bus as soon as I criticize a white man. By telling the truth about him. I cannot count how many times this has happened to me. This one time sticks out for me, though…
Years ago, I had a white male coworker go off on me in a meeting. Why? He was pissed off that I got promoted over him, so he had been trying to come for me ever since. He took his shot in a staff meeting, where he decided to say, in front of all our coworkers, that I was horrible employee. I looked over at my white female boss, who sat there saying nothing. So I proceeded to drag him in front of everybody — letting him and everyone else know that it wasn’t my problem that I was better at the job than he was and that, if he knew what was best for him, he would watch how he talked to me in the future.
Afterward, I confronted my boss about it. I asked her why she hadn’t said anything to him about his little tantrum. Her response: “Oh, he’s just an excitable boy. He reminds me of my son.”
And just like that, I was done with Amelia too.
Also, stop telling us we’re angry. WE KNOW WE’RE ANGRY. We’re angry at y’all because you can’t seem to keep your nose out black folks’ business. A friend of mine told me that some white women got mad at her when she said they shouldn’t wear a shirt with the Issa Rae quote: “I’m rooting for everybody black.” Whyyyyy? Why must you keep doing this? Find your own damn quote and stop trying to claim ours.
And while I’m at it, keep “Reclaiming my time” out of your mouth.
And don’t call Maxine Waters “Aunt Maxine.” If you have to ask why, that’s exactly why you shouldn’t say it.
By Lecia Michelle