It’s Not About Race!
John Metta

Racism is not an emotionless subject for people of color. How can it be?

“I think what I’m trying to get at, is that in order to have a discussion about racism, we would get further with knowledge and discussion. Not necessarily without emotion, but we don’t want an emotional argument. That just causes defensiveness all around and we get nowhere.”

You’re not alone in thinking that, it’s a common reaction. These discussions are scary to white people. I’ve experienced it myself so I know what you mean.

However, in your response you’re centering your experience. Do you see that? I’m not saying you’re aware of it, or that you’re doing it deliberately. But you’re saying “we don’t want an emotional argument,” i.e., white people don’t want an emotional argument, so it can’t be an emotional argument. Cause that causes defensiveness, i.e., white people get defensive.

Rephrasing what you’re saying without the passive voice, it would be “We don’t want an emotional argument because we get scared and defensive.”

Racism is not an emotionless subject for people of color. How can it be? Centuries of discrimination, racism, bias, marginalization, enslavement, inferior schools, less opportunity, longer prison sentences, fear of death at the hands of white people — how can it not be an emotional subject for them? So asking them to not have an emotional argument ends up being another way of stifling them.

People of color have been careful around white people for a long, long time. We don’t have the right to ask them to be careful about our feelings when they talk to us about what they’ve suffered and endured.