(You’re doing next to nothing for minorities…this includes your lack of dialogue.)
(so many unimpressive white men, so little time )
My gratitude to those who protested against hatred in Charlottesville as well as Heather Heyer, who paid the ultimate price for her beliefs.
I live in Austin, Texas. A speck of blue in a sea of red. Austin has a reputation of being liberal, but don’t let that fool you into thinking that it has a plethora of minorities because of this. Austin is very white, extraordinarily white for the amount of people in an urban area within a very populated Hispanic state. As a result of living here I have a lot of white friends. I have a good amount of friends of color but it’s not uncommon if I find myself on any given night in a room surrounded by only white people.
Most, if not all of my friends, identify as liberal or libertarian. To keep it short, I am acquainted with many individuals who are fiscally conservative but as far as I know I am not knowingly friends with anyone who does not believe in equal rights, and I wouldn’t be friends with anyone anymore if I did find this out. I can’t believe I have to say this in the year 2017 but if you believe that because you are a white person or a man you are better than me, a Hispanic woman, you are a horrible human being and the earth would probably be a more tolerant place without you in it.
But for the love of God I am so sick of the complacency of some of the white people I hang around with both in a private and public setting.
I don’t know what it’s like to be white. I assume you watch a lot of Mad Men and write a good amount in moleskin notebooks and in between those activities you live as great of a life as you can. You engage in the world around you (Twitter, Reddit, Facebook) and sooner or later you become aware of what’s happening in it that doesn’t affect you. The fact that black people get shot in the country daily by cops or that women who wear Hijabs are attacked on the subway as they go about their own lives.
I assume that like my friends you care, you find this to be one terrible ordeal after another. You do not condone the violence. You distance yourself away from people who look like you but who spread hate speech they feel is protected under the first amendment. You vote for someone who isn’t Trump. You maybe, maybe, donate to Planned Parenthood.
But in all honesty it usually ends there. White people’s actions commence and end at being offended for someone else, while still never being as offended they should be. Including people I spend time around, too many white people I know shake their heads (understandably) at the idea of active Nazi’s in our modern world, the rise of the KKK, the “alt-right,” the resistance to accept Black Lives Matter but these white people do absolutely nothing productive about it.
I don’t even mean that in the big acts of activism way, where you have to pause your Netflix and move your body off a couch. Still hardly any of the white people I know engage in organized protests or call their senators to change laws (laws which effect transgender, women, and other marginalized groups in their state.) These deeds require the bare minimum of physical action that they could do, along with clicking a donation button to the ACLU or NAACP, but still they do not do it.
It’s hard, I understand that. I have, since Trump has been president, cried almost on a weekly basis from something in the headlines which has threatened a fellow American – almost always a minority. I have had true anxiety at the possibilities of what will happen to those I know who are immigrants, who love someone of their same sex, for the people of my hometown who will have a literal wall separate them from their family. I have suffered so much frustration about the sexual predator in our oval office who devalues women tweets at a time. But I have also been frustrated with myself for not doing enough. Because I know I am not doing enough. I write blogs, donate, and call local offices sporadically. I listen to political podcasts until I am blue in the face, but it seems stationary. It seems like as much as I try I can’t do enough. I can’t fix Washington and I can’t fix hate. I can’t even buy out the tiki torches of the world.
In all seriousness not a day goes by where I don’t think to myself, what did I do today to help the resistance? To help my people? Both women and people of color. I feel constant shame in my immobile helplessness.
I am almost positive however that most of my white friends do not ever think this. How much of a blessing it must be to not have to, to see something horrific happening, recognize it, but have no inclination that you are responsible for fixing it as much as someone like me might be. It’s ironic given that the perils minorities encounter are caused mainly by white people.
There are those in my life who I assume do feel this way. Minorities and white people alike. (Because not all white people right?) But the burden falls to people who look like me, who relate to that crippling feeling that their country is moving in a direction which will ultimately betray them (even more than it already has.) It is very rare that I can connect over this shared feeling with those who do not identify in any way with a minority or are not actively searching to be educated and empathetic to minorities.
But the education is out there. In this day and age the accessibility of helpful and informative articles about race, particularly in relation to how the “alt-right” (or rather pro-racist movement) view minorities are in excess. The ways we can teach people about race and defeat this movement (and with it Trump) do exist on our walls, tweets, and trusted news outlets. If we take the time to make sure these texts are verifiable and written by people who have survived struggle themselves (or those who have researched it sensitively) we should indeed go about sharing them with those around us.
It’s a touchy situation, but we need to let go of this idea that we are bothering people with political posts and talk. The time we live in does not call for it. Maybe Facebook started out as a way to engage happily with your friends about your latest beach vacation, but why must that mean that there should be a moratorium on the real news we share aside from that? We live in an extraordinary age where we are able to share instantaneous information and yet people, white people specifically, are more ignorant than ever.
Because I’ve come to realize something telling about race in the United States that plays across my computer screen. It’s my minority friends who post the articles about Heather Heyer and Eric Garner. It’s my minority friends who keep me updated on if a ridiculous bathroom bill is dead. It is my Indian, Black, Hispanic, Transgender, Gay and Jewish friends who respond to stories, who engage in not only online dialogue but who create their own with thought out posts about how they feel about the current political climate. They are the ones who text me at the end of the day “Did you see what that clown said today?”
I do want to say that some of those minority groups I mentioned are white themselves, but as white people who have faced their own, even minute, struggles they understand a form of oppression that exists around them and this possibly allows them to see greater strife in others. Are there some white friends of mine who are amazingly open to learning more about the racism that occurs presently in this country? Absolutely. Some of my white friends seem as passionate about the resistance as I do. But they are few and far between. If I sat down and really thought about it, they might make up less than five people.
It’s not that my white friends, or white people, don’t try to play the part. They “like” my posts, they read extensively about politics, they could probably out politic talk me. But they fail to understand the deep-heartedness that comes when race becomes personal and not political. As white people who are surrounded by different races than them they are placed in the unique opportunity to learn more about race in their nation from someone who experiences it, they choose not to for reasons that vary from it being too much work to just not caring enough.
I’m not saying I am not privileged myself, that I do not share some of the same privileges of growing up as an American citizen in an upper-middle class family as many of my white peers do, but being a Mexican-American woman does lead to an awareness (and hardship) that some people in my life have never faced.
I know this because a wonderful thing happens when I talk about race with different races, those hardships and ideas I experience are validated.
I can think of nothing less productive than having a conversation about race with a group of white people, sometimes even those I am closest too. And I know that I am not the only minority who feels this way. An amazing energy and discourse occurs when a group of people who are not white discuss race openly. There are arguments, regardless of what people might believe not everyone agrees that we should all just condemn white people and that would be the end of it, but the arguments are not rooted in white validation.
When I have a discussion of race in America, like I did recently with only my Indian, Middle Eastern, and two Black friends, I do not need to worry about offending my non-existent white friend sitting among us. Every sentence does not need to be prefaced with “not all white people.” I do not have to, as minorities always do, cater to the emotional feelings of a white person who believes they are being attacked because they are in a position where for the first time they are being told devastating things people of their race do. I rarely ever get questioned: are you sure that wouldn’t happen to a white person? I am not told: I wouldn’t consider that a race issue, that happens to me too. Or aren’t you making something out of nothing? Most of all, a conversation without white people does not become proving something to white people, thereby turning the conversation back to them – again. Conversations like the one I had with minorities, predominately minorities of not one race, allow me to grow because I see the problems within my own ways I view a racial construct. And most importantly I know the conversation will continue, I won’t have to worry about a white person emotionally exhausting the room, and then wrapping it up with the status quo of “I don’t see you any differently than any of my white friends.” It’s a good sentiment, and most people mean well when they say this, but it also takes away the agency of someone (me) who knows they are talking about a battle that not everyone has to fight. A conversation with only people of color, other ethnicities, eliminates the unavoidable white person who needs to feel they are more educated about a subject simply because they have read about it.
My liberal white friends and most of your liberal white friends need to accept that their conversations about race or discrimination of any kind are usually not good ones. They need to recognize and not flee from the inevitable feeling they will experience of being “uncomfortable” when someone suddenly gets serious about wanting to talk personally and not flippantly about something they saw in the media that effected them. They need to realize we (I) have to actively work to be comfortable in our body every single day. White people need to realize that if a conversation about a politician or riot feels like a restraint on their happiness at a dinner party, gathering, etc. then they are living in a Candyland of partly their own doing.
Hating people who hate black people does not give them a pass. They need to share articles. They need to not make jokes about the resistance, or buy into the false idea that the people who lead these organizations and the political leaders we elect to represent us do not know how to govern. They need to think, and evaluate themselves, every time they utter a statement that alludes to the fact that being a minority in no way effects poll numbers.
They need to get over themselves as their own white savior, the false belief that if they united more white people then and only then could they accomplish more. White people can accomplish more only with the help of minorities leading them.
White friends and white women can stop pretending that we are both sitting on the same seat of the struggle bus. White people need to understand that my body is seen as disposable because I am dark, it has not been proven to be acceptable to a passerby because I live a more culturally white lifestyle than people of my own race.
But whites, particularly white men, can do something about all this. I hate that this is how it is, but it is this way. White men are automatically shown the most respect, by default, in our society. They live in a world I have never lived in, where anything they say is accepted, on face value, as the truth. They live rarely being questioned, especially by people who adhere to the same socioeconomic lifestyle. Its white men who can easily continue a revolution into a broader scope. It’s a white man who can say that people of color have a voice that needs to be heard, and then hand the microphone over to that man or woman ready to speak. It’s a white man that has the power to continue a revolution into a broader scope by protesting against protests. It’s a white man that another white man in office would want to talk to. I guarantee a male white politician would take a meeting with a constituent who looks like him before he takes one with me.
So all the liberal white men who speak about how they hate the current administration or who at the bare level think that our country is running itself into the ground the men (and women) who would wear a Black Lives Matter shirt if it was given to them but would never think about buying one themselves, you are the problem. Your access to the loudest voice in our country you decide to mute is a problem.
Because the revolution doesn’t start (even if it is furthered) by the white race in this instance. It hardly ever does. It starts with the minorities. But the white people who are like-minded need to work. Because it will take us a long time. And they need to listen to me when I say this.
I don’t have to convince you into thinking I should have equal rights. But I do need to convince you to help me attain them. I don’t have to tell you to care about me or people like me. But I do need to convince you to care more.
I just don’t know whats going to have to happen at this point. What event, what riot, what moment is going to make you want to see something differently. What’s going to make you fall of your high horse. I hope it starts with this.