Note to my white self…
Today another white person verbally attacked you for supporting black people and their concerns.
In our present white supremacist society, being attacked for supporting black people and their concerns is a requirement for a racially-conscious white person. Those who avoid challenging racial stereotypes, racist narratives and acts give tacit approval to such ugliness. Silence is not politeness or peacemaking. If you have not been attacked for your support of black people, you are no better than the white bystanders at a lynching.
Today another white person called you a racist for supporting black people and their concerns.
In our present white supremacist society, being accused of being racist by another white person is the best evidence of your abandonment of white supremacy. Those calling you racist are accusing you of disloyalty and betrayal. Your solidarity with black people is a threat to the white solidarity that under-girds a white supremacist society. Remember, in the Jim Crow South, the only person hated more than an “uppity” black person was a white “n***er lover.”
Today another white person criticized you for making everything about race.
In our present white supremacist society, everything is about race. You did not make it that way. That was established and institutionalized hundreds of years ago. What they are critiquing is your willingness to see and acknowledge this reality. White supremacist society is most effective when it is invisible; when accepted as normative. Your identification of all the ways in which society is racist forces other white people to face the ugliness.
Today another white person accused you of self-loathing, of hating your identity as a white person, of living a guilt-ridden life.
In our present white supremacist society, the ones who should feel guilty are NOT those who are advocating for black people and their concerns. It is those who don’t. You know one of the benefits of advocating for black people and their concerns has been your own emancipation from a system built on the loathing and hatred of others. Freed of the necessity of sustaining your privilege and the system which upholds it, you can interact with others more authentically, acknowledging your shared humanity.
Today another white person warned you that your advocacy for black people and their concerns inspires other white people to be more racist.
In our present white supremacist society, black people and those who advocate for them will always be blamed for the violence and abuse they experience. Always challenge this narrative. It is no different than the wife abuser who claims he wouldn’t have to hit his wife if she didn’t provoke him. The violence and abuse of a white supremacist society is intended to suppress and punish all those who challenge its power. Your advocacy does not inspire this violence. It does force the white supremacist system to apply this violence to white people and creates a dissonance in that system. If enough white people create this dissonance, the white supremacist system will begin to disintegrate.
Today another white person accused you – when it comes to race – of being the problem.
In our present white supremacist society, the problem is not black people advocating for their own concerns. The system has successfully ignored, suppressed and silenced black people for four hundred years. What the system fears most is what happened in 1860 and 1960, when black and white people united to dismantle significant aspects of a white supremacist society. The biggest problem for a white supremacist society is when whites abandon it.
Today another white person heard or read your advocacy for black people and their concerns.
In our present white supremacist society, white people are most likely to be moved by the words of another white person. Your advocacy calls into question their apathy. Your voiced concerns highlight their silence. Your honesty exposes their timidity. Don’t focus on those who attack you. Focus on those who are quietly listening and watching you. You may be the inspiration for them to finally abandon their complicity and help create a multi-cultural society in all of its beauty and complexity.
Today another white person attacked you.
In our present white supremacist society, this means they didn’t spend that same time and effort attacking a black person. These attacks will also help you appreciate what black people experience every day. Your experience of abuse is a brief glimpse from a speeding train. The abuse black people experience is like being tied to the tracks and being crushed by that same train again and again and again. Your solidarity with black people will require some pain.
It’s the least you can do.