“I Don’t Know What to Do With Good White People”

“this white welfare officer, writes as if she is an objective observer, but she tells a well-worn story of Black women who refuse to work and instead depend on welfare. Occasionally, her clinical tone breaks down. Once, she notes that my mother is pretty. She probably considered herself a good white person…
Most of my white friends have responded to recent events with empathy or outrage. Some have joined protests. Others have posted Criming While White stories, a hashtag that has been criticized for detracting from Black voices. Look at me, the hashtag screams, I know that I am privileged. I am a good white person. Join me and remind others that you are a good white person too.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve seen good white people congratulate themselves for deleting racist friends or debating family members or performing small acts of kindness to Black people. Sometimes I think I’d prefer racist trolling to this grade of self-aggrandizement. A racist troll is easy to dismiss. He does not think decency is enough. Sometimes I think good white people expect to be rewarded for their decency…
I don’t know which is worse, the unrepentant killer or the man who insists to the end that he meant well… I don’t think Darren Wilson or Daniel Pantaleo set out to kill Black men. I’m sure the cops who arrested my father meant well. But what good are your good intentions if they kill us?”

I love when someone summarizes my feelings.

I know that in other ways, I am a good-privileged-person. And it’s useful to be on both sides of this because it helps me understand what is happening:

The issue is that people are not acting in recognition of other’s pain, they are acting in recognition of their need to acknowledge and perform certain things in order to keep feeling “good”.

The thought process isn’t “what does X group need from the systems that I have privilege in? What do individuals in my life need from me?”; instead it’s “What can I be doing? How will people see me if I do that?”. They are making it about themselves.

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