Dear Fellow White Peeps,
I often post statuses on Facebook about racism. Please feel free to join the discussions these statuses provoke. Sometimes, the comment threads can become heated, especially after someone makes a racist/tone deaf comment. Should you ever find yourself making tone deaf comments on one of these statuses, do not expect me to come to your defense when you’re called out by a friend of color. Do not tag me in a comment with the presumption that I’ll come to your rescue and center your goodness. Do not send me a DM with hopes that I’ll provide secret solidarity and sympathy.
Here’s what you CAN do, though: shut up and listen.
As I strive to become a better ally in the dismantlement of white supremacy, I often share what I’m learning on Facebook because who knows? Maybe other allies could benefit as well. I’m certainly no authority on racism but I will say that I’ve learned a lot by keeping my mouth shut and listening. I’m very blessed to have intelligent, patient friends of color who occasionally hop on my comment threads to school myself as well as other commenters. They ask challenging questions and offer thought-provoking commentary. (It’s not their job at all to do this, by the way, and they are not obligated to be kind, either.)
My fellow white folks, we are so steeped in our blinding white privilege that saying something tone deaf is INEVITABLE. Resign yourself to that fact now. Face it: you’re gonna say something stupid. Hell, Lord knows I’ve certainly said some dumbass things.
But what’s important is how we handle our mistakes in this arena when we are called out. Do we get triggered into being defensive? Do we let our fragile egos take over? Do we get hung up on winning the argument and keep making comments because we want the last word? Do we attempt to center ourselves as a victim? Do we rein in other non-PoC friends to support us? Do we simply shut down and withdrawal from the discussion altogether? Or do we refrain from being reactive and take the time to ponder what’s being said to us? Do we make solid efforts to make sure we don’t repeat our mistakes? Do we use the situation as a learning tool? Do we offer a sincere and humble apology for our offensive remarks? In short, are we in this just to make ourselves look good or are we really pursing equality?
You have plenty of options. Do what you want. Just don’t expect me to co-sign your tone deafness just because we’re both white.