Why I Stopped Discussing “White Privilege” and “Black Lives Matter”
Time to get out of the kiddie pool
Disclaimer: This piece is not a condemnation of the concepts of White Privilege or BLM. If that’s what you’re here for, don’t waste your time (or, more importantly, mine).
As someone who has spent a great deal of time around people of various racial/ethnic backgrounds throughout my adult life, I’ve encountered race and race-based discussions a lot…and this was before my Pro-Black gene kicked into high gear over just the last couple of years. This means that I, like most any other socially aware people of color on this planet, have engaged in (and been dragged into…and beaten over the head with) more conversations around race than I care to recall. And if you’re here, you’re probably already well aware of all of the headaches that a life filled with these conversations and “debates” can entail, so I’ll spare you (and myself) the outlining of all of those gory details.
As any other Pro-Black person who’s discussed race for an extended period of time knows, you hit a certain point of fatigue with said discussions. This fatigue has gotten me to the point where I rarely, if ever, debate racial issues with white people (beyond the occasional, self-gratifying shade or clapback). And this is mainly because there’s a certain level that far too many just don’t seem to be able to make it past, which I’ve started calling the “Kiddie Pool” of social justice — topics like “White Privilege” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Now, why would I want to rid my entire racial discourse experience of these kinds of topics? Well, this commonly-shared meme pretty well captures a great deal of the problem, for me:
This kind of dialog has hogged up at least 85% of the discussion around race over the last year or two…silly semantics over simple hash tags. Think of how many actual, substantive conversations over race could’ve been had while we were focusing on trying to clarify this stupidly obvious phrase for racist ass people. Exact same goes for White Privilege. These discussions are just draining, counterproductive, total wastes of time.
We’re in the age of social media and Google…virtually everyone has internet access and there’s limitless information, right at our fingertips. Also, people in all corners of existence have been explaining this shit, ad nauseum, for years…decades, really — if not longer. If someone doesn’t get that “Black Lives Matter” never even remotely implied that “Only Back Lives Matter,” or that being white does systemically afford you less hurdles than what a Black person would have to face in this country and it’s not meant to assert or suggest that white people don’t struggle or work hard— if they don’t get these simple concepts, by now, nine times out of ten, it’s because they don’t want to get it.
They’re being willfully ignorant because they’re fucking racists who are perfectly fine with white supremacy. And these are people who likely engage in these conversations (for lack of a better word), not looking to gain new perspectives and learn, but because they’re pressed losers who have nothing better to do with their time. They’re seeking any opportunity to troll the people who make them uncomfortable, and have us drive ourselves crazy by arguing with an obtuse, brick wall.
Why are these Neanderthals even remotely worth the stress? They’ve made up their minds that we’re just pulling these issues out of thin air (and probably even believe that we’re the real racists), so what’s there to discuss? Why even give a fuck about their uneducated opinions, at this point? Truth of the matter is, people like this don’t warrant any effort beyond what it takes to find the block button.
And to take it a step further, those who do manage to get those basic concepts often don’t make it much farther than that. Focusing so much on giving remedial explanations for hashtags and getting our white friends to “check their privilege” has somewhat hijacked attention from the bigger picture around race, and it lets everyone off way too easy.
We’ve given white people (and, in many cases, ourselves, if we’re being totally honest) the false belief that simply “checking your privilege” is enough, without putting more scrutiny on how deep institutional and systemic racism goes in this country (and beyond). While white people are “checking their privilege,” they’re also feeding into systems that continue to uphold the very inequities that sustain white privilege, and necessitated #BlackLivesMatter, in the first place.
For example, if we’re still putting so much of our faith into the two-party system — the same system that brutalizes and oppresses people of color, domestically and abroad, regardless of which party is in control of Washington — then putting “Black Lives Matter” in your profile only goes so far towards addressing the true depth of the issue.
This isn’t to say that there’s no value in these discussions, at all — a basic understanding of privilege can lead to people being more cognizant of others’ issues, which does serve to improve everyday relationships. The problem is that, for what seems like forever, these topics have been the entire discussion around race; as well as all of the wasted focus on ignorant bigots who have no interest in these issues, anyway. I’m just past that point of basic racial dialog and am more mentally stimulated by topics that are more substantive.
Flopping around the kiddie pool may be amusing and cute for a little while, but eventually you grow up and it gets boring. It’s time to get out of the aforementioned social justice “kiddie pool” and start having more tough conversations on white supremacy, and the work necessary to dismantle it — including what a replacement of white supremacy looks like. I think, once we do that, this movement can kick up another notch and even more substantial progress can happen.
It’s way past time that more people hop into the deep end.
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