When I was young, my mom used to say to may when I didn’t listen to her, “Sometimes the best lessons in life come from experience.” She also said, “Hard heads make soft asses,” which was also true, but I liked the first statement better because it never grows old.
There are always going to be people who don’t listen to your advice, even when you’re sharing it to protect them and others. Some folks will scapegoat ignorance even though we live in an age of information. There is too much information available to not know anything you want or need to know about the world and other people. There are always going to be those stubborn folks who don’t want anyone to tell them anything. These folks prefer advice from influencers and self-help gurus. Plenty of folks love watching complete strangers advise them on their lives on YouTube.
Then there are the folks who are respecters of persons. If their wisdom didn’t come from someone they respect, they don’t want to hear it.
This last group of folks are most White people who have believed they weren’t racist. For years we’ve been advising you all about how you’ve been treating us, and you told us it was our imaginations. We were being too sensitive, and that we needed to get over “it.”
“It” being racism.
Ignoring our racism was racism. But they didn’t care. When you’re the winner of the wars, you get to make the rules. American White folks created many pacifiers and ploys to move this broken country forward without addressing the issues of racism married to White Supremacy impacting so many Black people and People of Color. Centuries of inaction have come home to roost, and it’s bittersweet.
Racism really hurts everyone, even when you can’t see it. Even when you don’t know it. Democrats and Republicans have suffered over the last 12-years because White people love racism more than they love humanity. The rugged individualism of Whiteness is worn and tired, it wasn’t built for this abuse by White people. The abuse they are enduring by the people who look just like their fathers, mothers, grandfathers, brothers, and aunts stings. White people are hurting the wrong people now. For the first time in their lives, many White people are experiencing racism, voter suppression, and seeing how long-standing systematic racism has now made its way into their lives, and they don’t like it.
When Racism Works Right For White People
When racism works the way they designed it, White people don’t know (or claim not to know) it’s at work. The systems, institutions, and codes, and microaggressions designed to teach non-White people their places function perfectly. White people get to engage in racism, willing or unwillingly, and Black people and people of color suffer all the bumps, bruises, setbacks, failures, losses, deaths, and obstruction White folks intended. White folks sit around and design many plans and schemes to maintain the social hierarchy where White rule, Browns maybe/sometimes, and Blacks don’t.
Whatever they do, Blacks cannot have power. They’ve been stealing our votes since forever, along with denying our individual and collective rights, and seizing unearned opportunities because they run and maintain all the systems. Racism is all about privilege, earned and unearned, invisible and real/tangible. When racism works right White people enjoy their privileges seamlessly. The main takeaway of American racism is that it keeps White people comfortable and ahead, and keeps Black people as close to the bottom, discouraged, struggling to survive, confused and demotivated as possible.
Racism is all about suffering, unfairness and inequality for non-White people. The cruelty of it all is the point. If White folks get caught up, they are collateral damage.
When Racism Goes Wrong For White People
If you’re White in America, suffering from racism isn’t necessarily designed for you, but sometimes White folks get the smoke the non-White folks typically receive from racism because their individual socioeconomic characteristics intersect with those of non-White people. The thing about economic intersecting is it that White folks don’t realize we don’t make them poor, because we don’t have jobs or make most of them, White people do. We don’t take jobs from White people, nor are we the biggest creator of jobs. White-run corporations create and destroy jobs in America. We aren’t in any position to take or give jobs. White people hold most human resource positions. We’re asking for jobs just like White people. When racists create job killing policies, legislation, laws, and institutions to harm non-White folks, eventually White people will get around to getting burned too.
The election of Trump, the most overtly racist choice for President in my lifetime, was a choice to impose racialized suffering on otherness. Now Trump is hurting the wrong people. He’s hurting White people. As long as Black and Brown people were suffering, it was all good. White folks wanted to take away jobs from Black and Brown people, cleanse the White House of Obama’s legacy, and stop the browning of America. White folks wanted to make Black and non-White people suffer, but it backfired.
Now, all White people are suffering. The wrong people are suffering.
The handling of Covid was racist and intentional. Trump and is racist Administration meant to misinform and mislead us. They’d do anything to maintain White power. America’s White Taliban meant to kill off more Black and Brown people so we couldn’t vote his corrupt ass out of office, it harmed White people too. White folks died. White people who never gave a shit about racism or the harm it caused others for centuries have lost their businesses and incomes too. They are in the food bank lines too. White folks have had to deal with the same uncertainty and lack as Black and Brown folks suddenly they understand inequality and unfairness. They’ve seen the federal government not work for them, just like it hasn’t work for us in for never.
White suffering was unnecessary, but suffering is the point. When White folks allow racism to fester, eventually it comes back to bite them in the ass. Racism is evil, and its sole purpose is to harm non-White people.
American racism was created to cause non-White suffering. Sometimes, White people are indirect victims of racism too. The reason America is here in this broken, divided state is because White people ignored racism. White folks have ignored decades and centuries of Black folk being beaten and killed. They didn’t pay attention when we told them our votes were being stolen and our names were being erased from voter rolls. Instead, they blamed us for not turning out even though we turn out often at higher rates than they do, even though it’s fewer of us.
White folks never believed us when we told them their father, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, husbands, and sons were killing us in the streets and violating our civil rights. They suggested we should just do what the police officers said, and that nothing ever happened to them. But then came the murders of George Floyd, Walter Scott, and Portland. White people were doing all the shit we said they were doing, and then some. White folks getting their asses beaten by White police showed them the truth about police brutality and the racism in policing. White suffering brings understanding for them.
Black suffering doesn’t bother them much, it at all. Not even Black death teaches them.
White folks never cared about Black people’s right to vote or our disenfranchisement because both parties have only been concerned about the White man’s and woman’s rights ability to vote. In the past, White folks have casually mentioned gerrymandering or voter purges, but they made zero efforts to help us stop racist White people from infringing upon our right to vote. They also have never cared about who we needed to lead us. Only in 2020 when everybody had to vote like Black people because White men were busy trying to remain in power did they see what our experiences were like. They were posting pictures of them standing in lines and bragging about their kids coming home from college as if they had fought in the War on Terror or some shit.
A few times I’ve chuckled at watching White people squirm and complain about voting absentee in Covid because they were suffering just like Black folks. That suffering was good for them. Sneaking and making plans to not be cheated out of their votes as if they were on the Underground Railroad was good for them. The uncertainty, agony and suffering was new to most White people. That was good for them, too. We can only hope that uncertainty and suffering comes more empathy.
There is a lesson in White suffering stemming from their racism and their apathy. With their suffering comes understanding. It seems those are the only lessons on racism White people recognize. And so if they must suffer too, let them.
When White people suffer self-inflicted wounds because of racism, I must admit, I smile like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Sometimes you can’t tell folks nothin, you gotta show them. Life is the best teacher, especially for arrogance and ignorance.
Some Are Finally Seeing The Light
I came across an interesting post of White regrets and newfound understanding of how systemic racism works the other day I found enlightening. It warmed my heart, but also made me angry at the same time.
Please know that I really, really appreciate the apology. Apologies can go a long way in mending broken fences, but with racism and because of the time they have allowed it to fester, they must do much more than say I’m sorry and promise to do better. Why is it that White people can’t grasp racism, and why are they in denial about its impact? Systematic racism isn’t a new complaint from Black people. The internet is littered with studies, Op-Eds, essays, and data describing systematic racism and its impact on Black people specifically, yet White people couldn’t get it.
It took President Trump trying to steal an election from them for them to get it. It’s taken White people getting in your face, outright proof of how White people work collectively through both local, state, and federal means to disenfranchise no one except Black voters for them to understand how it not only harms us, but racism threatens to also harm White folks too.
As Medium writer Lecia Michelle noted, Black folks must not only fight with White folks to vote, we have to fight to ensure our votes are counted.
We save America from one set of White folks, and the other apathetic set of White folks don’t fight to stop the White folks on the dangerous side from stealing our votes. This isn’t the first battle or a new one. The difference is now their democracy is on the line. I say their democracy because nobody is trying to overturn White votes. Had White allies and good White people fought for us, this could never happen. They don’t fight for us because racism doesn’t impact them. It’s not meant to impact them, therefore, they don’t care.
Our suffering is only a concern when White people too are suffering.
It’s one of the worst character flaws of White people. Not seeing and not caring about racism right in your face every day is casual racism. Their eyes and ears should look for racism, fix what’s broken, and ease suffering. White people should fight for us all the time, because when they don’t, racism will always come to their homes.
Thing will not go back to normal for most White people eventually, no matter who takes office in January. If Trump’s coup is successful, White people who voted for Biden will suffer. Trump is a petty motherfucker, and he will exact revenge like the best scary mob boss you’ve never seen. He’s making a list and checking it twice, he already knows who was naughty and nice. Trump’s revenge will come to your town.
If Biden makes it into office, White people will go back to White peopling. They’ll start doing their usual White people shit, the shudders will reappear over their eyes, and their competing spirits will return. They’ll go back to ignoring and taking part in racist systems instead of helping us dismantle them. White suffering will be temporarily suspended, and never-ending Black and Brown suffering will continue.
But what about our suffering? There are no real remedies. White people aren’t talking about doing anything about it specific. Everything is so top secret squirrel. Finally seeing racism is nice, but doing is what we need. How long must we wait now that White people can see? In this season, now that you know somewhat how we feel and you’ve seen how the system works to harm us, what will you do about it?
In this hour, tokenism won’t do. Decentering will not work. Asking us to be kind and meet you all halfway I’m certain will get you cursed out, and I’m leading the charge. Calls for peace and understanding after all of this are absolutely inappropriate. Continuing such calls is going to make my “I Wish a Motherfucker Would Week,” turn into a lifestyle. There is only so much more suffering Black people can tolerate. Most of us are done.
Saying you don’t know what to do is suddenly unacceptable. We want equity, not equality.
Black people aren’t interested in pursuing equality anymore. Equality will never level the playing field for the centuries of injuries because of racism neglect, apathy, and exclusion that has led to irreparable Black suffering. Lead the charge to end all of our collective suffering.
Reparations are the only thing that can make us whole for all the emotional, mental, financial, and physical suffering Black folks had to endure because of racism. We already know White men, regardless of their political persuasions, are going to come out in full opposition of reparations (again) with long think pieces on how reparations are going to cause some other problem for us, as if they’re really concerned about us at all. Even after all we’ve endured, all the suffering, worry, stress, the neglect, disenfranchisement and emotional abuse, we’re just supposed to vote and save ya’lls asses and be happy about not sinking on the Titanic again. This is unacceptable.
White people make life hard for all of us, which is why I don’t mind White people suffering.
Every White person in America has benefitted from racism and discrimination. After seeing how it harms us all, they should be more vested in ending it. When Black people and People of Color suffer from racism, eventually you too will suffer White people. It shouldn’t be where White folks only act when suffering touches them, but most times that’s how things work. It’s in your best interest to help yourselves, because we’re done saving you.
Racism is eating this country alive, and instead of making things right, White people will continue to ignore the wrong. We’ve all lived suffering in vain long enough. White people, if you don’t figure out how to change personally, dismantle these racist systems, and clean out these racist institutions, this disruption due to racism will continue. The next Trump is cooking as we speak. America suffers because of racism, and most White people are racist. It’s not an us problem, it’s a ya’ll problem.
If ya’ll White folks don’t want to do something about racism, I want ya’ll to suffer too. If suffering is good for us, it’s gonna be good for ya’ll too. The bad and apathetic will have to suffer with the good and those of us stuck fighting the good fight because White people won’t.
If we gotta suffer, ya’ll are gonna suffer more too. We’re taking off our capes and saving ourselves. Match our efforts, or prepare to suffer more. Racism is about suffering, and everyone will suffer if White folks don’t change.
Marley K in Quarantine, Stuck in Election 2020 purgatory
If you’re interested in nontraditional, intelligent thought on racism and Black people in America written by Black writers, please read my work and the works of other great Black writers like Sharon Hurley Hall, Rebecca Stevens A., Allison Gaines, Johnny Silvercloud, Herbert Dyer, Jr., William Spivey, Abby Shab and Jordan McGowan.
Don’t forget to amplify Black voices across social media.
You can also read my work on other publications including Afrosapiophile, Our Human Family, and Marleyisms.