I don’t have any close White friends. Acquaintances yes. Close White friends?
I might have like…three?
As a Black person, you can have White friends for years and they will never really know the core of you unless you’re the type of Black person who is unapologetically Black about your shit.
I have not always been the kind of Black person who was always unapologetically Black about my shit. Therefore I have White acquaintances in my life who think they know me…but don’t fully. And that’s totally on me. But the White people I’ve I rocked with, who I got to know in my late 20s and 30s; they are staunch anti-racist White people who do their best to own their shit, to push themselves and stay informed on how to really do their work and check their privilege constantly.
I was in Manhattan yesterday, on my way to an appointment and waiting on a train platform for an express so naturally I started to scroll idly through social media feed on my Facebook account. That’s when I saw this posted by one of my good White friends’ status feeds.
i was complicit,
the sexist, offensive, degrading, locker room talk – there have been too many times when i haven’t stood up to it, when i was part of it. used my privilege to be in and out of spaces without being damaged and without standing up to damaging behavior.
i haven’t called out men, who i knew were crossing the line with their talk, with their threat of action, with their violence.
i have looked, stared, thought, and not respected boundaries.
it was me, i was complicit.
It is our turn to speak up…and to post and hashtag and pass along. Somebody is doing the harassing and abusing…it doesn’t just happen. I have stood by in silence too many times…no more.
Men…Don’t just like this post…own it. Share it. Copy and Paste. Do something.
h/t David Cohen
Once, years ago, I did an enthography of an anti-racist reading group (which I had never heard of in my life before) for a Cultural Diversity class I was taking for my undergrad. I did interviews with about 3-4 White people (it was an all White group) for my paper. One of the White men I interviewed was a social worker who told me that essentially, along his journey towards becoming active in social justice and anti-racism he discovered how hateful Whiteness was.
I was stunned. He was the first White person I had ever met who openly admitted how destructive, violent, dangerous and generally not shit Whiteness was.
I didn’t know how to respond. I think I was a little worried about him.
I got over that shit after Trayvon Martin. I stopped worrying about White people altogether soon after that.
When I read this #itwasme repost by, I’ll call him John, I was caught of guard but then I was like wow, this is exactly what more White men need to be doing. Admission of implicitness in the endangerment of women and the nurturing of rape culture is a real step towards a conversation that might actually shift attitudes and practices that perpetuate this sickening Weinsteinian/Trump/Cosby scourge.
I think it was pretty decent of him to own up to it in a way that honestly, any woman would have the right to wanna take him down for.
But then I thought….
Well, how about the admission of the numerous times when White people, maybe even John were present during conversations that were racially insensitive? Because to be totally honest, (I’m naive) I would not have guessed that he was someone who would let sexist comments slide either. I guess this was another reason the post caught me off guard. At first I thought he wrote it. Then I saw it was a repost. But the repost was still an admission. So I’m like torn between applauding (I really have to fight that applauding urge) his honesty but yet also feeling like…emmm, if you could be silent here, where else are you silent?
See because, I like this guy and I feel he’s really doing his work…
You see, if America (read White people) ever had the dignity to admit its unforgivable atrocities towards all Black Brown and indigenous peoples in this way, it would at least be the first step towards opening up a conversation about what needs to happen next.
But if America ever did admit it openly, willingly, at the risk of deflating White fragility, ripping away the veil of respectability and phony puritanical standards to reveal and take responsibility for it’s perverse, putrid, rapacious and psychotically divisive existence, I don’t know about you; I would be both stunned, thankful and yet also…
Ummm…you don’t get invited to the cookouts no more man.
And I don’t even have cookouts.
And I think that at the core, this is what White people are really afraid of. They’re afraid we won’t invite them to partake of our perpetually resilient abundance anymore the way we always have, not matter what they’ve done to us.
They’re afraid of being left alone with themselves.
It’s certainly not a reflection I would want to face.