Kicked for Being White

Once upon a time, I advised White people working in nonwhite communities. I taught that they will be running into closed doors, omission from conversations, and being asked to leave. I tell them — expect it, accept it.

My right-leaning colleagues would go apopleptic. More often than not, they wanted to join a meeting to center themselves, their issues, their work, etc. Without access, they shouted reverse racism. They walked tall during these diatribes, so sure of their moral upper hand and over-talking anyone who disagreed.

They’re also dead wrong.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I have to confess, I still struggle with being asked not to participate. It feels personal each time, but I know that’s my Whiteness showing. Because I’ve never had to think racially, because it’s never been a daily barrier to getting what I want, when my race DOES block me from something I want, I’m not sure what to do.

It happened just the other day on an audio app, in a channel on Black history. The mod, who I considered a friend, sent me a message that he’d prefer to keep the audience African.

That one hurt.

Photo by Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

I pouted inwardly for long minutes. I had shared information and sources with this person. I had encouraged and supported his ideas and contributions. I’m embarrassed to say, I got childishly angry. I petulantly signed off, irritated that I could not listen and learn with them.

Luckily, that nauseous feeling in my abdomen appeared soon after.

Anyone else have this? A physical reaction that lets me know when I’m not being who I want to be. Yes, I might have a couple of immature, hurt feelings, But I needed to think more deeply.

My momentary “it’s not fair” was incredibly tiny when compared with the Black community’s historic need for safe discussion spaces. From what little I know, to be Black in the US (online or off) where the White gaze does not exist is a rarity. Our Whiteness, our presence, and our insistence on inclusion can kill opportunities. AND — even if they just didn’t want White people around, that was their right.

I was on the “but I’m a good white person” train; that choo-choo never arrives anywhere I want to be.

Look, I’ve been asked to get out, removed, banned, omitted, blocked, etc., all in the name of protecting boundaries. That isn’t reverse racism — it’s survival.

White growth needs to be encouraged, because in the end, White supremacy has to be taken apart from the inside.

Our growth, however, needs to be done on the White clock, not on Black people’s time. Showing up to Black spaces means we should come with our most valuable, not vulnerable, selves.

Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

If you are White, pledge to keep Black spaces sacrosanct. Realize that if you’re asked to leave as a White person, this is done to preserve the integrity, the safety, and the trustworthiness of the space.

Next time I’m left out, I hope to be a little less whiny. White people like me need to show respect when asked to leave. We should re-evaluate our position and what we’re offering, then keep going, and find where we can be of use.

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ginger

experienced historian-researcher; pro-reparationist/student of black liberation; trauma survivor/mental health advocate; this is a writing experiment on Medium