The Faceless: On Whiteness & Emotional Assassination

White people consistently break the softness of my heart — because Whiteness is brokenness, and to be close to it, is to be broken by it.

The tale I’m about to tell you is about a betrayal no Black or Brown heart in proximity to intimate Whiteness is without.

It’s the story of two White women — neither unique in their character — who are different sides of the same oppressive coins, which pile together to form the prosperity of their mutual wretched lies, and the frauds of their existence.

They are twin traitors, with their willingness to build houses and careers on the backs of violent betrayal of humanity and dignity being breathtaking to behold. They are both hubristic and audacious in their deceit and doling out of pain, and both of them stand as examples of the garish lack of empathy and void of trust that is Whiteness.

They are emotional assassins, choking the breath and joy out of Brown and Black bodies as they claim to reach towards us in embrace.

Both of them betrayed me, and their betrayals ultimately helped in electing Trump.

And I?

Have elected to be free.

For the full letter that went with this piece of protest art, go here:

Those of us who live beneath the steel-toed boots of kyriarchy, colonialism, and white supremacy, have long joked that we should invoice our oppressors for emotional & intellectual labor.

I finally did it as an act of protest and got called a “PR problem.”

Rebecca is not purely an individual — she is an archetype.

She is a blonde, bubbly, upper middle class, college-educated, cisgender, able-bodied white woman who fits the mold of, “Everything you should be and a slice of gluten free cake.” She is, almost predictably, a “coach” who teaches people about “online marketing.”

You probably know a Rebecca.

She is the friend-of-a-friend who is always posting flat lays with her Starbucks on Instagram — always so very #blessed, busy as a #ladyboss, workin’ like a #girlboss, while she #hustles up her coin.

Rebecca is also, notably, spiritual but definitely not religious.

She doesn’t talk about politics because they’re something she calls “low vibe” — thus contrary to her ironically dogmatic belief in the Law of Attraction, which states, according to Wikipedia:

“That by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life.[1][2] The belief is based on the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and that through the process of “like energy attracting like energy” a person can improve their own health, wealth and personal relationships.”

Like a model #ladypreneur, she believes in the world of start-up jargon and Randian heroics in neoliberal skirts.

She’s ingested a philosophy which sells her on the lie that everything is a meritocracy, and that only the cream rises to the top — and that the cream just so happens to be almost always white, cisgender, able-bodied, and a man, and if she wants to rise, too, she must conform.

Of course — despite the fact that she gets paid less, is sexually harassed, and trolled in her DMs if she worries her pretty little head with too strong of an opinion — she doesn’t about talk about politics, too, because she’s fashionably “apolitical.” Not only because it’s “low vibe” — as we’ve already established — but because she knows that if you worry about the outcome of elections and their impact on the nation (or you, or your neighbor), well, you’re a motherfuckin’ loser.

She only cares about Blackness when it lets her be a spiritual gangster. (And when it lands her a book deal for her gentrifying kale smoothie recipes.) Or when she’s plastering Mother Maxine all over her social media timelines, loudly proclaiming her time reclaimed, too. (From who?)

Rebecca only started to care about feminism when Lena Dunham got a show on HBO. Her eyes only opened to the darkness of the political day when she saw women gathered in the hundreds of thousands in a transphobic parade, where they hobnobbed, high-fived, and gave praise to the institutionalized executioners of Black and Brown children, to protest a Tang Tyrant their male loved ones and coworkers helped elect.

She grabbed the golden ticket of feminism and hitched her wagon, following new gurus out of Trumplandia and onto the beaches of 4th Wave Feminism, even if she rode in on the Trump train.

And then, like clockwork, promptly ran over every Black & Brown woman and trans person she met with reckless, fragile, and saccharine abandon.

PR problems, she calls us, when we call her on her shit — despite our desire to believe in her ‘well meaning’ nature and desire to continue ‘trying to learn’.

Angry, outraged, negative, and intense, she cries, when we point out how fucked a conversation about activism without marginalized identities is.

Attacked and shamed, she claims, when we tell her our lives are not a game and that words have bigger consequences than air.

She’s a victim, she asserts, while she consumes the fruits of our foremothers’ labor laced with the poison of white supremacy.

“I’m leaning towards a no.” she says when she’s reminded of how much has been paid in blood and toil for her power, pyramid, prosperity, and pleasure.

“You have a victim mindset!” she nods alongside her fragile compatriots, as she refuses to take responsibility for her power hungry tantrums.

“Go take a time out.” she gets told after berating, gaslighting, deflecting from, and abusing people of color for hours, by the person who led her onto this journey towards the promised land.

These people who try to steal our hopes for that land from our Black and Brown children.

And then stab us in the heart while they do it.

Credit: Kelly Diels

Kelly Diels is Rebecca’s twin.

Kelly is no better — but in some ways, worse — than Rebecca, because she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. She is the naked empress leading the ear-plugged, all the while thieving from the blindfolded and bound in their ranks, too.

Billing herself as a feminist firebrand, she re-emerged into the world of online business and marketing with potent critiques of the predatory fuckshit the male chauvinists, loudmouths, and Tech Brosephs microdosed into the heads of legions of this new age’s equivalent of the new working woman.

(Except rather than the pyramid scheme of makeup, they all call themselves coaches and coach other coaches how to coach coaches.)

The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand.

An archetype, a marketing strategy.

Its revelation was a liberating light — naming a thing a thing, a shaming of its devils, and the deliverance of its unwitting victims from the chains of its savagery, only to embrace them with claws.

Baiting them with little birds, and silencing them with layer cakes of lies.

Good White People — more specifically, Good White Women — are all too familiar to me.

They are the women whom I called mother, whose chests I yearned to cling to in tight, trusting embrace as a sensitive, quiet child. Who — when they seemed to reach towards me — repeatedly slapped me and threw me away to the wolves. My body and soul knows the ravages of Whiteness and how it consumes in a mindless slaughter: I was raped because of Whiteness. Sold out because of Whiteness. Stolen from because of Whiteness. Smothered and silenced because of Whiteness.

I have known unfathomable depths of despair because of my misguided love for the sick, wounded pitifulness of Whiteness — with a soft, sunny heart of fury for its brokenness and all of its victims, myself included. When I met Kelly, I was limping through my healing, the salve of words my only means to renew my breath and soul, to hear my own mind deep beneath its White malaise.

I loved — love — Kelly.

She became one of several lights at the end of my Hermit’s tunnel.

She saw victory in my talent for writing, and lifted me high. Her ardent, professed devotion to my success was a care and affection I’d never imagined I’d find in any human being, not even myself.

On the winds of praise, I opened my wings to fly — and fly I did, even as life tried to drag me down to hell. Through insensitive and cruel legal ‘family’, through homelessness and bad health, through a toxic relationship, tiredness, and shame — I climbed up and into community, riding a wagon wheel headed West towards a promised land of milk, honey, and justice.

Moreover: I found my power, and my voice.


Maybe I trusted Kelly because she has beautiful Black children.

Maybe I wanted to believe that she was a mother of Black children like my friend E is, who loves her Black babies with a fierceness and fire so hot she burned bridges all the way to a jail cell in Ferguson, MO.

I wanted the audacity of hope — a hope that my White mothers could have loved me and seen me with the same intense affection, and lifted me like Kelly did so that the sun in my chest could warm whole worlds.

When Kelly created a space for her community to congregate and exchange, it felt like coming home. For a transient runaway with a heavy heart, community and communion — a nearer proximity to Black and Brown people, and a refuge from the pain of my day-to-day life — where my quest to get free was a mutual battle cry rather than a solo shout, was a refreshing joy.

That space brought me connection, growth, and new family — friends and radicals, boldness and bread. It challenged me and expanded me until one day it didn’t, and I got jumped by White Feminism, and verbally battered half to death before the responsible party was removed. Kelly’s light at the end of the Hermit’s tunnel started to fade that day, and a mirage in the desert of Whiteness started to appear.

I found myself needing to leave a community whose roots I helped feed and nourish, with a great sense of sadness and a loneliness I did not want to feel.

It became clear to me that I was looking for an oasis — a respite — in a grueling, lifeless wasteland.

When a Black woman or non-man finds and exerts their power, they are like a lighthouse in the deep hours of the night. They break through the impenetrable with a joy so clear it cannot be grasped, it simply illuminates the heaviness of the world in a single, unmistakable stroke.

My talent for writing in recent years hasn’t always been that beacon. I have called people publicly to account after many attempts by many others using less drastic measures to call attention to toxic behaviors, only because it is harder to argue against praxis than it is to argue against theory. Names are also profound and magical things, with an emotional weight that drives the tangibility of a harm or beauty home. To bastardize my mentor in spirit, James Baldwin: not everything that is named can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it’s named.

From the height Kelly’s praise in part created, I discovered an increased bravery for conjuring things by their name: to state what was plain but unspoken, to stare a truth in its face in spite of the costs to my health, wealth, or happiness.

Because I am a writer, and naming things is what I do.

Kelly reached out to me in the aftermath of my departure from her community to ask me to be a paid moderator, fully cognizant of my job description,while still wanting the clarity of being proximal to my fire, but not wanting it to burn on its own terms. I — not realizing what was about to happen — agreed to discuss exploring the possibility of me re-engaging a community that meant so much to me, for a woman who meant as much.

During that meeting, I was informed that Kelly was nervous about being so close to me and to how I am willing name people and things when hugging our way to freedom inevitably fails. Why? Because she needed to “protect her reputation” so she could get a book deal, or keep her fragile, White clients happy.

This woman who preaches from the pages of Audre Lorde and Angela Davis.

Who speaks to people of love and justice, and liberating ourselves from the oppressions of the status quo.

Who posts pictures of her beautiful Black children every time Black blood runs on social media to profess her devotion to Black Lives Matter.

This woman who gets accoladed for her fearlessness, and a professed willingness to lose what’s necessary for what is right, just, and true.

In that single moment, the wind stopped blowing, and my wings crumpled beneath me. I withdrew and went largely silent, even as my world burned down around me, for fear of my world going completely dark.

I later watched Kelly Diels call Derek Halpern, specifically, a sexist, racist troll and get called a hero.

All the while, I was slowly suffocating, trying not to die from shame.

The thing about Good White People is that they will feed on you and then spit you out in broken bits and pieces when you’re no longer palatable.

Good White People get to decide when you eat or find community with other people like you, too, even when Kind White People try to do what they can to support you in finding some roots to thrive on. Good White People will take food out of your mouth and resources from your coffers, just because they feel like singling you out as having too much.

[A part of this essay which contained an excerpt from an email exchange sent to me involving Kelly Diels —who was explicitly attempting to undercut me and attempting to present me as a liar — has been removed to protect the integrity of this essay. My words stand.]

I know the ravages of Whiteness and how it consumes you when it feels like you are too big.

Whiteness will betray your trust. Whiteness will sell you out for the status quo. Whiteness will steal your income from you. Whiteness will smother and silence you.

It will burn you down and the bridge you stand on while you’re calling the damned, the damned.

Whiteness exploits the love and trust of a Black woman with children to deflect from being held accountable for its lies and manipulations, because the harmed don’t want to injure someone who made the error of trying to find their joy and got stabbed in the chest for it, too.

Whiteness won’t be able to pay the invoice it owes you for all the sacrifices made so it can prosper, because it’s morally bankrupt.

Those of us who live beneath the steel-toed boots of kyriarchy, colonialism, and white supremacy, have long joked that we should invoice our oppressors for emotional & intellectual labor.

I staked my claim to power and got called a “PR problem.”

Kelly is not purely an individual — she is an archetype.

She is a blonde, bubbly, upper middle class, college-educated, cisgender, able-bodied white woman who fits the mold of, “Everything a feminist should be and a slice of layer cake.” She is, almost predictably, a “coach” who teaches people about “online marketing.”

You probably know a Kelly.

She is the friend-of-a-friend who is always posting #ImWithHer and #BlackLivesMatter images on her Instagram — always talking about the #patriarchy, and #racism, and #justice.

Kelly is not social justice spiritual, but she is definitely social justice religious.

She talks about politics while leveraging reframed start-up jargon, and indulging Randian heroics, all in neoliberal skirts.

She only cares about Blackness when it lets her quote Angela Davis or Audre Lorde for a marketing tweetable. (And when it could land her a book deal about the perils of patriarchal marketing tactics.) Or when she’s plastering her Black children all over her Facebook timeline as Black blood trickles in the streets, loudly proclaiming how #BlackLivesMatter, while the validity of her career is forged in proximity to those same bodies.

Kelly only started to care about Black women and our feminism when Roxane Gay got a book deal, and Danielle LaPorte made millions off her apolitical brand of activism. She saw an opportunity.

She grabbed the golden ticket of intersectional feminism and hitched her wagon to the words and love of Black and Brown people, following us as we fled from the pain of Whiteness and onto the shores of Blackness, to embrace our love for one another in a gruelling desert where we were our only respite.

She then promptly ran over every Black & Brown woman she met with reckless, fragile, hubristic, and saccharine abandon.

The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand.

An archetype, a marketing strategy.

The Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand is a liberating light — it has named a thing a thing, this is a shaming of its devils, and the deliverance of its unwitting victims from the chains of its lack of heart.

It has released victims from claws that say they are broken and there is only one way to the light, and that she rests atop a pedestal called Feminist Marketing School, where she’s been baiting them with little birds and silencing them with layer cakes of lies.

Kelly has been an emotional assassin, choking the joy and breaking the softness out of Black and Brown bodies as she claims to reach towards us in embrace.

These betrayals helped elect Trump, and preserve the things she claims to hate.

And I?

Am electing to be free.

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