Note to my white self…

In light of the recent events at a Starbucks coffee shop, it seems prudent to understand what such incidents teach you as a white person.

You have never been asked to leave a coffee shop because you haven’t purchased a beverage yet.

You have never had a store clerk call the police to have you removed from the premises.

You have never been arrested for asking to use the restroom.

Never. Not once.

You have never had black men yell “Honky” and throw garbage at you from a passing vehicle.

You have never had a person cross to the other side of the street when they see you.

You have never had people stare right through you when you said “hello.”

You have never had someone tell you they hate you because of the color of your skin.

Never. Not once.

You have never had a security guard follow you around in a store.

You have never had a police officer stop you on the street and ask what you’re doing.

You have never been pulled over for a broken tail light.

When you have been pulled over, you have never worried about being killed.

You have never had a police officer tell you that you fit the description of a suspect in a crime.

Never.  Not once.

You have never been told your natural hair isn’t appropriate for work.

You have never had someone act disgusted when they accidently touched you.

You have never worried that you didn’t get a job because of the color of your skin.

You have never had someone touch your hair without your permission.

You have never been told you should move back to Europe where you came from.

You have never read death threats written on a bathroom stall.

Never. Not once.

You have never been complimented for being “more honest or articulate or competent” than most white people.

You have never had someone ask “What are you?”

You have never been called a “boy” since you became an adult.

You have never had someone lock their doors when you walked by their car.

You have never had someone ask why white people like “steak and potatoes” so much.

You have never had a customer ask for a different employee to serve them.

You have never had to have a black person come to your aid and insist you be treated with respect.

Never. Not once.

Yet you know people of color who have experienced many – if not all – of these incidents (or their equivalents), often repeatedly.  Because of this reality…

You should never think your experience as a white person in the United States is the same as the experience of a person of color.  Every experience – even the most trivial – has the potential for discrimination and danger for a person of color.

You should never deny the persistent and systemic racism in the United States.  There is no place in the United States where a person of color is immune from the impacts of racism.

You should never forget how often you benefit from the privileges of being white.  There is no place in the United States where a white person loses the power and privilege of being white.

You should never diminish the seriousness of any instance where a person of color is treated with disrespect.  Micro-aggressions are not minor instances of racism.  They are the tip of a huge, submerged system of racism

You should never stop addressing the racism within yourself and within our society.  If people of color must be constantly vigilant, so must you.

Other white people will be frustrated with your continuing focus on racial equality, dignity and justice.  Don’t listen to them.  Don’t waver.  Don’t look away.

Never. Not once.


8 thoughts on “Never. Not Once

  1. My heart cries out because of the truth of this. So many of these I’ve dealt with, and yet, we are conditioned to smile and “stop complaining”. We somehow are made to believe that we created this issue. That we are whining. That we allow ourselves to be oppressed.

    And when that fake smile is wiped away, we are left with pure aggression and hatred. But that is wrong they say. We aren’t supposed to want to make a change. We aren’t supposed to want to fight for ourselves and our future. We are meant to let the country have it’s way with us.

    As always Mr. Mulholland, you words give me hope. Hope that the change we march, scream, cry and die for, may finally take effect. However, you are one of a kind. You are unique and in a boat of your own. Until there are more of you, our future is destined to remain the same.


    1. Please let me not be one of a kind. That would be very discouraging. I have to believe other white people are coming to some of the same conclusions. However, I completely agree that the critical mass necessary to shift our culture is still seriously lacking.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. All in a day’s persistence for people of color in America north of the Rio Grande. (I have experienced being looked through by a couple of African Americans that I worked around. It was their way of protecting their psychic space, I believe. One of them, after months of my greeting briefly and gently, did respond.) I can’t imagine how much energy it must take to live with these “micro”-aggressions, day in and day out. What a drag on health, vitality, accomplishment it must be. I am grateful for Maya Angelou’s words: “And still I rise.”


  3. It’s an issue that’s created through culture and hate, but it’s a treatable cancer: it can be fought and be gotten rid of.

    Black people in the US are still, on average, considerably worse off compared to whites. They don’t deserve this, at all. The stats are shocking.

    Discrimination, unequal treatment and abuse are just some of the ways in which it manifests. It is everywhere. It still hasn’t been driven out, and it must be.

    It’s cruel, unfair and silly. It still has to be nonviolently fought until it’s gone.


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