Ah, White Woker: Our Respect Will Be Mutual or Our Teeth Will Be, Friend.
When 2021 whispered to me “let’m fuck around and find out, then.”
“And that, my friends, is when 2021 whispered ‘let’m fuck around and find out, then.’”
After the White Riot of January 6, I wrote that I was done. A mob of White men and women, and at least one Black dude, stormed our Capitol. They peed and pooped in halls and on walls, claiming the low ground as the superior race. If the point was to get our attention, the point has been well attended.
- Sedition — Then and Now, Black and White, The Case for Convicting the Republican Party, From Its Leadership Down to its “Army,” for Sedition. ~David Sackman (Jan. 9, 2021).
- The Line in America’s Sand Has Been Drawn — Choose a Side Before Time is Up, It’s either white supremacy or active anti-racism work since Black people are no longer the sole target of violence. ~Jeanette C. Espinoza (Jan. 18, 2021).
- What Would Martin Luther King, Jr Think of the Riot at the Capitol? The Resurgence of White Supremacy. ~William Spivey (Jan. 17, 2021).
- How ‘The Wire’ Season 2 Prepared Us for America’s White Insurrection, The show’s embittered longshoremen presage the mentality of the Capitol Hill terrorists. ~David Dennis, Jr. (Jan. 20, 2021).
- This is What Trump Always Wanted — And There’s Worse to Come, This is How Societies Descend into Terrorism and Civil War, When Fanatics and Fascists Give Up on Politics. ~umair haque (Jan. 6, 2021).
- “Unify?” Dude We don’t even See Eye-to-Eye, Why calls for unity are meaningless when facing right-wing authoritarianism. ~Johnny Silvercloud (Jan. 18, 2021).
- An American Coup is Nothing New, The First One was the 400-Year-Long War and Not Quite Total Extermination of Native Americans. ~Herbert Dyer, Jr. (Jan. 19, 2021).
- White People Play Politics on Easy Mode, A Black perspective on the Coup Klux Klan’s White Privilege Flex. ~Johnny Silvercloud (Jan 7. 2021).
After the riots, Elyse Cizek wrote a moving piece called “White Allies: You Don’t Get to Not Be White Right Now,” criticizing race progressives distancing their way into absolution. One woman, for example, distinguished herself from her Cro-Mag brethren by “denouncing” her “whiteness.” I suspect gaggles of people of color rejoined, “Darcy, sweetheart, that’s really not a thing.”
As it happens, I do not believe in the “White Ally” ideology. I believe White people fight racism, just like Japanese people and bus drivers do. They are called, well, people fighting against racism and that seems to serve. I believe “White Ally,” while meant to convey depth and cultural resonance, is actually good marketing. Miss “I’ll Be White Later When It’s Kinda Cool Again” illustrates that better than anything I could possibly say here.
Instead of doing as the entire balance of the universe does — the work for the work’s sake — this special breed needs an Anti-Racism VIP Card, Collector’s Edition. Yet:
- No one else gets — or needs — one; ever hear of a Mexican Ally?
- It is meant to convey one thing: good White person doing God’s work (period, hence the absence of the descriptors that matter the most).
- It is a self-designation — it is not “earned” but unilaterally crowned by the bearer.
- It can mean anything — and nothing — and nobody knows what — if anything — makes the bearer deserving. But, everyone better damn well know to respect it.
- People do a LOT of horrible things in its name — “I only called the police because I thought maybe it would be safer for him not to stand on his porch at night. While minding his own business. In front of his house.” Bam! “White Ally.”
It serves one person and one person only, and it rhymes with “person disparately seeking absolution.”
I believe the term “White Ally” it is hollow, useless, and dangerous, and is what we in the business like to call “a clue” on why fighting racism is so challenging: the work in this field goes from hard to all but impossible when you have a “White Ally” spasming that he or she is not getting hugs and accolades. That objection invariably comes right after you have unpacked an experience, yet oddly way before this dear and dedicated anti-racism special friend has given any indication that he or she gives a flying fig about said experience. I vote to keep the people and kill the name.
All in favor, say “aye, goddamn it!”
“I quit you, and I am calling your bluff. If you feel leapy, Kermy, jump. ‘Or else’ is in play; don’t stop, get it, get it. . . . [I]f you have a McCracken, release it. Ça va?”
Cue White Wokers — AKA “White Allies”— “light pigmented” people of “European ancestry” claiming to be “aware of and actively attentive to” important racial and social justice issues. Or, White folks doing victory laps for demonstrable moral meritoriousness. Why, yes; I did just make that up.
On schedule, a White Woker took offense to Ms. Cizek’s article. It would appear, however, that no one knows exactly why. That includes the White Woker, hilarious only because it always does.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times a White Woker has body-slammed me for being racist. White Woker Superhero Michael Hurst is my own frequent flyer. Like Otty, Michael is a Champion of the Micha--strike that--Champion of the Anti-Racism cum Say My Name cause.
“I’m a White guy who doesn’t really have a racist past, at least from how I see it. All the things that Blacks say Whites do to offend them are things that I have almost never done. Nevertheless I am trying to learn all of the things I have not paid attention to. I work on my own behavior, and I’ve joined SURJ and OWMCL, contributed money, and am planning to join more direct activities. I believe in racial equality, and am doing my small part to make it a reality. I don’t expect any kudos for any of this or even thanks.”
Also, Michael: “Black writers have taken this opportunity to not only excoriate racists . . . but to mock and diminish and insult those of us who are trying,” or as we like to call it, “talking about what happened to me last Tuesday.”
Also, Michael: “When one side speaks in absolutes, however — ‘all White people’ — it cuts off conversation.”
Still Michael: “I’m a White guy . . . you don’t want my thanks . . . sorry, thank you anyway. We need to find ways to INCREASE communication between races and ethnic groups.”
. . . Yes; yes, it is. “All White people are racist assholes . . . solely responsible for everything bad that has ever happened to Black people [and who have] no right to try and defend themselves. [Their] only proper response is to hang their heads in shame. . . . Anything new?”
“How do they not know how unseemly they are, crawling into my casket at my wake?”
So, me: “Hello, Michael. I don’t write in contemplation of you. I write to consider the wedge of White America outraged at Black America. That provokes you. You have made that clear. We needn’t continue the dance. Be well; happy holiday.” Nasty, right?
So, Michael: “Your articles are deliberately provocative. . . [T]he emotion you invoke in me is bemusement. I have never understood what your point is, what you are trying to achieve. Unless provocation IS the end game. Happy holidays to you also.”
Michael is not the exception. I began publishing in June, 2020. I now have eight hundred and forty eight pages of Michaels, et al. As with so many of the self-dubbed White and “woke,” he is utterly and completely tone deaf. The instant replay:
Back to “Michael Otty.” I usually use these comments to help others practice, ummm, piercing introspection and self-awareness (sometimes misidentified — unfairly, I might add— as spurious “internet trolling”). No such joy with Mr. Otwrate. Something in me snapped, though -free or -in half, I cannot say.
I sat there wondering “why do we do this???” Those who know the reality needn’t study us. Those who need to can’t or won’t. Add to that the strangest phenomena: why do the emotionally tone deaf consistently find their way to our obvious cesspool of Black hate? How do they not know how unseemly they are, crawling into the casket at a wake? And God forbid you move to de-throne them; that’s when they lean in with the “What about me!” wailing.
Who are these people who, time and again, show, say, then do the most incongruous things? “I hate it here! You are so mean! . . . also, I’ll be back tomorrow in case, you know, you’re ready to love me.”
I wonder in amazement at how they never seem to run out of, or even low on, uncommon sense. “Oh, really?” I say, “you know how to fix racism then? Four hundred years, and you’re waiting for, what, Godot?”
And, “if only we’d been more gracious,” you say, “you would have been far more welcoming.” Point of order: if we had that much control over you, you and I would be having a different conversation.
My favorite part of this whole thing is that I’m omnipotent and stupid. Instead of twinkling my nose for the undisputed win, here I am wasting my time, my energy, my thoughts, words and phrases.”
I prefer that those who claim to be “aware and attentive” to social grief have at least a passing relationship with humanity. That’s just me — siddity. Yet, it was in the closing of this parade of indignities that I knew: 2021 was going to be liberating, deliciously so, with no parallel in the modern history of man.
You see, while I make it a rule to never yield to the blackhearted emotional hijack, I have decades of rote memory to overcome. Forget gratuitous unkindness, the mere thought of conversational indecency makes my right eye twitch. And had I my druthers and stead and the full breadth of options, would I really say “Fuck you; pound sand; then, drop dead”? Would that not too be exploited as “proof” of my mystery-meat racism?
And yet, . . .
Did I owe a lesser duty to me to respect me? Treat me with decency? Was I not, in effect, co-sponsoring said hijack by starving my innocent with their guilty? Was it decent of me to me to entertain their abuse, no matter my reply?
Any yet, the more I thought on it, short of me saying “you’re right, I’m wrong, stupid, silly me,” already my crime was of their choosing.
The more I thought on it, the even clearer it became: I will brook no virtual tantrum that, IRL, I would ice and flame. Especially when it is the rare bird indeed who cuts the fool where I can reach him.
Hmmmm . . .
If it was the White Wokers’ rather to demand from me parity, should I not feed them their own? And when they seek respect on the haunches of verbal violence, surely I too can choose violence? And is it even remotely possible this isn’t gaslighting, this drumbeat for respect from racism’s nest on behalf of them; and not for us, but from us?
And that, my friends, is when 2021 whispered “let’m fuck around and find out, then.”
Having now fucked around, Michael Otty #FoundJesus, and It. Felt. Glorious. If my task is to return what they have so graciously given, I am long done neglecting those duties. I was softer in my rejoin than what he deserved, yet still managed to thwonk boo in his peaches.**
Dear John Michael Otty,
I quit you.
I cannot speak for others, but I’m simply exhausted by how labor intensive you are. And I mean you — literally. Understand the what and why, and you understand everything.
You keep coming across material that makes you feel as if Medium is a haven for White scorn. I get that. I don’t fault the feeling either. But let’s unpack it a bit so you can see where and how it falls apart.
This author shared an experience. You pushed her damage aside completely. Completely. Not one word about how her world felt. Words and words and words about how you felt by her sharing her world with others.
Words dedicated to Elyse Cizek’s issue: 2; “you.” Twice.
Words dedicated to yours: 3,242.
Why do you think it is OK to ignore her experience, but share yours?
Did you not JUST establish “who gives AF what you’re going through” is a reasonable response?
Did you not JUST illustrate the most important thing as between your feelings and her feelings are your feelings?
Were you not JUST perfectly OK with bleeding all over this Black person about how other Black people make you feel, while accusing her of promoting racism?
Were you not JUST perfectly OK complaining about of Blacks lumping together Whites as evil while you were literally in said act of lumping this Black woman together with other Black people to discuss Black evilness?
Were you not JUST perfectly OK with using a double standard to complain about “double standards”?
And — get this — She. Wasn’t. Even. Speaking. Of. You. Her whole message — don’t pretend like you are not White when White people do stupid stuff. Are you a White person pretending like you are not White while other White people do stupid stuff? If not, sit down and shut up. If so, come closer; I can’t quite reach you.
And you — YOU — felt owed some perverse entitlement to take umbrage. What on earth is objectionable here? How is this not proof of some enormous defect about you, festering way, way deep within you?
No one needs a person like you in his or her life. No one. The best gift anyone will give you this year is a mirror, so here: go away. The worst “I’ll show you!” in the world is the one where the abandonee is happy you are leaving.
I am happy you are leaving.
Yours is a relationship not worth the effort. You are not worth the patience to wait you out. You are not worth the energy to consider your perspective. You are not worth the time to discover your hidden jewels; your deeply hidden jewels.
You want too much. You give too little. You care about us not at all. You accept too much of the abuse heaped on us. You tolerate too little to share a foxhole with me. Heretofore and henceforth, we should see other people.
Well, we should see other people; you should consider becoming one.
Be hurt, be angry, but be they elsewhere. You are dripping pity party on my national Black carpet, and — #AskStacey — we just had them all cleaned.
Black America has tried and tried and tried to figure out how to share space with our brethren. How to co-exist — harmoniously — as compatriots of equal standing. We have begged. We have counselled. We have demurred. We have raged. We have debated. We have suffered. And suffered. And suffered.
And at the end of the day, there is a groundswell of White America — large and loud — demanding our subjugation.
- Be grateful, “learn how to better respect allies,” if “you want real change.”
- “It is your time Catherine to voice your pain and when you are done, remember you will need the white folks to cooperate . . . If you succeed in burning that bridge, the black minority will be even more isolated. Your only chance to get out of this is conversation.”
- “You are shouting ‘Go ahead: make my day!’ at an opponent who can easily crush you. Spitting in the faces of those who injure you only motivates them to injure you more.”
- “The real privilege is yours. You are allowed to think like this without fear of retribution.”
Not happening, friend.
Just out of curiosity, why would we do this? Why should we think so little of ourselves to accept less than nothing from you? How do people in your lives put up with all this waste and goop?
No, I think not: do what you must, but no; rage as you must, but no. Threaten, accuse, condemn, exploit, whine, cry, be victimized as vilified but no, no, no, no, no, no and hell no. I quit you and I am calling your bluff. If you feel leapy, Kermy, jump. “Or else” is in play; don’t stop, get it, get it. And if, for some reason, you are still unclear, if you have a McCracken, release it. Ça va?
Unlike Mr. Otwrate, whom I tag here for notice, I sign everything with the bold stroke of my name. But that name is not for everyone’s use, my dear Otty. Should we again meet, that would be Dr. Pugh to you.
Before you engage me or others, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Catherine Pugh is an Attorney at Law and former Adjunct Professor at the Temple University, Japan. She developed and taught Race and the Law for its undergraduate program, and Evidence, Criminal Law, and Criminal and Civil Procedure for its law program. She has worked for the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, and was a Public Defender for the State of Maryland.
To my sweetest of loves: I am the wall for them; you are the wall for me. And nothing — nothing — has ever gotten past you. You are my everything. #CubanKitchen.
“It takes the wisdom of the elders . . .” Thank you for teaching us, loving us, leading us all: Mary Stovall Davis Budd, Andrea Tucker, Lorenzo and Dorris Pugh, Jacqueline and Roger Wallace, Kenneth Davis, Sandra Davis, and Karen Davis.