Dear White People who like to jump in PoCs mentions and share your well meaning yet ultimately inept and uninformed opinions about race… Don’t.
Originally published August 5, 2019 on Twitter @Ajahswrite
Note: I was recently informed of the fact that you can use Twitter threads as writing clips. The only changes made to these tweets are minor edits for regular human reading.
As a public service, I’m making this thread to serve as a quick guide to whether or not you’re ready to talk about race in public. Not saying this to be condescending, but when it comes to understanding race, privilege and power, most white people are like kindergarteners.
I get it. Y’all mostly don’t talk about race until college. But people of color grow up talking, thinking and learning about race everyday, so our race, privilege and power understanding falls somewhere between middle school and grad school. That’s why conversations about race, privilege and power are so frustrating for all involved.
Imagine yourself as a college student. You’re sitting in your room, talking on the phone with your friends about your crush. “I think I’m in love!” you say.
Suddenly, your eight year old sibling walks into your room. They’ve been listening at the door. They start to tell you what they love. “I love pizza! I love ice cream! I love Mommy! I love you!”
Awesome, but not relevant to the conversation you’re already engaged in. Are you mad at your sibling? Nope. Are you going to stop your conversation to explain what you meant to them? Nope. One day, they’ll understand.
This is the expectation white people should carry into online conversations about race initiated by people of color. It is not your fault that you are beneficiaries of a system that has allowed you to work half as hard and get twice as much as the people of color around you. But it is your problem — not ours.
People of color are not required to teach white people about race, privilege and power. We are not required to create (or cede) space for your uninformed opinions, even online space. We don’t have to accommodate your ignorance. In fact, your ignorance is more dangerous than outright hatred.
So please, for Pete’s sake, do not insert yourself into conversations about race if you haven’t read Robin D’Angelo, Tim Wise, Peggy McIntosh, Ben Brucato, Jane Elliot or Howard Zinn. These are white people who get paid to explain whiteness to y’all, so people of color don’t have to.
Here are some other things that indicate you’re not ready to talk about race, privilege and power in an online public space:
- You don’t see color and you think that the only way society will be fair is for everyone to become color blind.
- Using the phrase white supremacy makes you very uncomfortable.
- You feel the need to say not all white people/not all men/not all white women.
- You feel that people are always making things about race.
- You believe in reverse racism.
- You think black people can be racist too.
- You know you’re not racist because you have a black… child/wife/friend.
- You think that people who obey the law don’t have anything to fear from the police.
- You think that socioeconomics are what really divides us, not race.
- Your ancestors didn’t own slaves and weren’t part of the problem.
- You grew up poor so you don’t believe in white privilege.
- You feel the need to cite Jay Z, Oprah, Barack Obama, LeBron James or any other exceptional black person as an example of how far we’ve come.
- You think slavery ended in 1865.
- You think segregation ended in 1964.
- You think affirmative action is unfair to white people.
This list is by no means comprehensive, but I’m tired. On behalf of all the other tired people of color who come on Twitter to find community, not to be smothered by the constant weight of your ignorance, if any of the things I mentioned apply to you, please go read a book.