Beware the Zen Bro
Dear mediocre white dudes,
You may not think you’re a mediocre white dude (MWD), but you probably are. There are not too many extraordinary white dudes. There aren’t too many extraordinary people in general, but white mediocrity has been hailed as excellent for so long, so this is why I address you mediocre white dudes. So if you don’t know if you are a mediocre white dude, take this easy test:
- Are you John Brown?
- Are you Jon Hamm?
- Are you even Jon Stewart?
If you answered “no” to these difficult questions, then consider yourself mediocre…actually, I just saw the last season Mad Men. If you answered “yes” to Question 2, just consider yourself mediocre for now, until you do more Black Mirror episodes. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to business:
- Your input is not always needed or wanted. If black folk, or people of color in general, are having a good time, discussing things in our communities, let us talk. If your black friend reposts an article from Ebony or Extraordinary Negroes or BET or any other source that is black focused, by all means read it! You could learn something. But think very hard about whether your input is necessary and whether what you’re saying is even relevant to the subject. Your ancestors have injected themselves into our conversations enough, and because of that, we can’t find our ancestors. My DNA report says “definitely England and Scotland, and…uh…I dunno…Angola? Something African”. Stop “But-Her-Emailsing” and “All-Lives-Mattering” us. This is not a refusal of allyship. This is a reminder that sometimes allying requires other leaders than yourself.
- You are nowhere near as enlightened as you think you are. I don’t care what Carter G. Woodson books you read or how many African American Studies electives you took. I don’t care that you read the the narrative 12 Years a Slave before you saw the movie. You cannot know what it is like to be a person of color in this country. Your extensive hip hop collection doesn’t give you a pass. Your black friend doesn’t give you a pass. Your black partner doesn’t give you a pass. Just shhhhh…Just because you don’t see something that someone has done as being racist or racist adjacent doesn’t mean that it is not. You are not “above race”.
- Talking about race doesn’t make “the divide” wider. The divide has been there. Not talking about race is what has let racism permeate throughout the US so much that it is ubiquitous and noticeable nearly everywhere. Seriously, do you think the Grand Canyon came about by the Indigenous people talking about it for years? When black folk talk about it, we’re not stoking flames. We’re pointing out that the house has been on fire all this time. Talking about race doesn’t make more divisions any more than a doctor talking to about your chain smoking has caused your emphysema.
- We fucking know race is “just a social construct”. MWDs love saying this, as if we weren’t aware of that. You’re not making a brilliant revelation. Political borders are social constructs too, and they are always discussed and fought over. Hell, our idea of personal property is a social construct. I’ll be sure to remind you of that when I take the Xbox out of your house after you tell me that verbal diarrhea.
- Fuck the Tone Police. Women know about this as much as people of color and LGBTQ people do. They say “men are trash” and some MWD comes out of the woodwork to say #NotAllMen. A person of color will say, “Dear White Folk”, and an MWD will say that we’re lumping them all together. If we say something rightfully out of frustration, then our “attitude” while saying something is the problem, not the problem itself. This calling out a person’s mood instead of acknowledging what they are saying is nothing but cowardly avoidance of the issue, which is an issue in and of itself. I wonder if I ran into your house and said, “Call 911! I am having a heart attack!”, you’d respond with, “Whoa, calm down. I don’t like the way you’re yelling at me. Please be civil.”
- There is no such thing as “black privilege”, so please miss me with that sentiment. People point to how black folk “get” affirmative action or how we have special scholarships and grants because we’re black. Socially, we seem more intimidating because we look much stronger, or we look older when we’re young and younger when we’re old. That is not privilege. That is what 300 years of white supremacy has “granted” us, and they are burden. Looking older when we are young is why so many young black kids are targeted by the police before they learn how to drive. Looking younger when older is why black professionals are talked to like they are interns when they’ve been at the job the longest. All of those grants and scholarships we get because we are black is because we were shut out of opportunities, specifically because of our race, often at the mandate of the government. So yes, you can say we all have “privilege”, however the only type of privilege that is static by design is white male privilege.
- STFU about “generalizing”. Of course we know and acknowledge that not EVERY white person is a certain way. We also know and acknowledge that our response that if you are not the people guilty of the sins we discuss then you shouldn’t worry about it, is similar to what you say when we bristle at the generalizations thrown at us. However, not one piece of legislation has been passed based on any black person’s saying “white folks do X”, especially none that put their lives in danger. Plenty of laws were passed based on a few MWDs saying, “Black folks to X”, and black folks have died because of those laws. When you can show me when a black person’s “white people” quip has killed a white person, then we might get all specific with “white people, but not all white people; just these types of white people; actually just Greg and Steve”. Is that fair? Don’t talk to me about “fair”. We have 300 years of legislated and social “unfair” put on us that make me not give two shites about what you think is “fair”.
- Above all beware the Zen Bro, and beware BECOMING the Zen Bro. All of the previous items are tactics of the Zen Bro. You think you sound intelligent by stating that “generalizing” is bad, and you don’t see race, and all this talk of race and gender is causing more divides. You may think that you have reached some sort of “awareness” of what the “real” issue is. You may think that the one quote you looked up from Martin Luther King that ISN’T from “I Have a Dream” is going to blow all these black people’s minds. You ain’t reached shit, and the only thing you’re blowing is your own ego’s dick. We see through your “Zen Bro” façade. You aren’t doing anything but the same tired tactics to silence oppressed peoples that we have seen before. You are not smarter about a subject than the people who have been living and experiencing this shit all of their goddamn lives. Get off your high horse, and STFU…respectfully. I don’t want another citation from the Tone Police.