Welcome To The Anti-Racism Movement — Here’s What You’ve Missed
Ijeoma Oluo

“You can talk to fellow white people about why the water in Flint and Standing Rock matters, without being dismissed as someone obsessed with playing ‘the race card’. … You can actually persuade, guilt, and annoy your friends into caring about what happens to us.”

This is such a huge misconception. No. No we can’t.

I’ve been White for 40 years, and I’ve been in this “movement” for about 10. I’ve been angry, uncomfortable, sad, confronted, the whole nine. What I’ve never done is convinced another living soul to feel anything they didn’t feel like feeling.

White people don’t have a magic key or secret code to get other White people to wake up or open their minds & hearts. I say this as an expert. And if you think, as an expert on your own end who has felt deeply about this, that this movement is going to be furthered by guilt and annoyance and making people “uncomfortable”, I foresee a lot of grief and a lot of stalemate.

I rather think it makes many Black people feel better to see the only White people who care even a tiny whit for their welfare, the 1 or 2% willing to jump through these linguistic and ritual hoops, struggle with as much discomfort, disdain and hostility as can be served. And considering the weight of Black persons’ crosses to bear, I can’t protest, I can’t seek to deny them their meager satisfactions.

But it’s not helping. It’s hurting. The venemous disrespect which imperfect, inexperienced, Johnny-come lately White liberals suffer is a great source of comedy for the open racists, veiled racists, apathetic and clueless racist Whites of the world. More than comedy actually, to them it’s a cautionary tale about how different sorts of people naturally don’t like each other, how it’s never going to get better, and how if the situations were reversed, Blacks would be no more selfless or less cruel and exploitative than Whites.

It’s corny but the only societal progress I’ve ever witnessed (in the era of widespread technical democracy and coersive capitalism) stems from love and empathy, from an appeal to our common humanity and the human condition, from solidarity in our common struggle against common oppressors, and from saintly patience and forbearance in the face of frustration and obtuseness. Just one man’s experience.