When white allies are asked to stop putting themselves, their feelings, and their experiences in the center of conversations about race, too often they respond with something along the lines of, “What, so you’re saying we shouldn’t do anything?”
Early on, it’s easy to believe discomfort is a sign that you are “in trouble” or someone else is wrong. As time passes, you will learn that discomfort is really a sign that reads, “Welcome to the thing you need to change. Here it is. You found it.”
“You’re saying we shouldn’t do ANYTHING?”
No, I’m not saying do nothing.
“I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is…the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
~Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., 16 April 1963, Letter from Birmingham Jail
Fellow white women, we need to talk about our devotion to the inoffensive. Our culturally-ingrained pull towards all things moderate. Our desire to be Switzerland. The United Nations…
We are a group of seven white women (WW) from all over the continental United States. We self-selected into a group called Real Talk that centers women of color (WOC) with the goal of dismantling the system of white supremacy. As part of our commitment to the group, we were given the task of answering and unpacking the following questions: How many friends of color do you really have? How close are you really? Answering these questions honestly and discussing the dynamics of friendships that cross racial lines yielded some enlightening conversations, and some deeper underlying themes emerged.
Note: Real Talk is a group of WOC and allies. This article is written from the perspective of allies.
When white women first learn the truth about white supremacy — that it encompasses far more people than Nazis with tiki torches and is far more subtle and insidious than racist rants in online comment sections — we’re shocked and horrified.
We’ve been raised by a system that has time and again patted our heads and reassured us that all the atrocities our ancestors perpetrated against BIPOC are things of the past. We’ve been fed a constant diet of the biggest…
Recently my Facebook feed has been filled with people posting articles about the two Black men who were victimized by a Starbucks manager and subsequently arrested by officers from the Philadelphia Police Department. Apparently, they recently settled with the city (which represents the police) for a symbolic $1 each and an agreement from the city to donate $200,000 to start an entrepreneurial development program in the Philadelphia public high schools. Allow me to share my thoughts on this development.
In a nutshell… this is some bullshit!
Now allow me to expound.
Lots of folks — mostly white, but some Blacks…
Today I have love in my heart. So much love. So very, very much love.
As in, I just love when I’m arguing with someone and they say, “If you don’t like this country, you should leave!”
It happens all the time. There you are, scrolling down your timeline, and a white friend posts something about this administration being the worst thing that happened to mankind. You agree and add a comment. Then one of their Trump-loving-alt-right-leaning friends decides what you said isn’t “American.” …
You’re minding your own business, scrolling the feed, liking pics of toddlers at the pumpkin patch, and suddenly there it is:
Linda Smith: I’m glad that illegals are facing consequences! Illegal immigration is ILLEGAL! I can’t afford my doctor bills, why should I pay theirs?
Oh hi, Aunt Linda.
You know it’s your job to collect her, right? You’re supposed to blow your ally whistle, throw a red flag in the air, and snatch Aunt Linda so she can’t do anymore harm.
But then this debate happens in your head:
She’s wrong and she needs to know how wrong…
Have you ever been in a conversation about racism with a white person only to see them bow out because it is “triggering their anxiety”?
White, liberal feminists hate being called racist. We hate being called out for our racist comments and behavior and go to great lengths to deny it. We want racial equality, but we always have a choice in how far we actually want to go in that fight. And far too often we choose to make excuses and put our own comfort first.
Talking about mental illness usually is not a priority for most of us. Unless we live with mental illness or a loved one does, we simply don’t discuss it. We don’t even think about it.
We especially ignore the mental health of people of color, and we should be talking about their mental health. As we saw in Part I of this series, people of color often struggle to find adequate mental health care. We should focus our efforts on how to improve mental health and mental health care for them.
But whose mental health do we focus? White people.
Last summer, Pierre Coriolan was killed by police. He was an innocent black man. This story hit me especially hard because, like my own son, Coriolan struggled with mental illness.
However, there is one crucial difference: My son is white.
Raising a child with mental illness is incredibly hard work, but as a white family, we’ve also experienced: