Thank you so much for you long, thoughtful reply. I’m going to address all of the points your mentioned, but before I do please let me say this and I can’t stress it enough. We don’t hate all White people. I don’t hate any White people. I dislike racist White people and White people who refuse to acknowledge they have racist tendencies. Most importantly, I’m sure I speak for a large swath of Black people when I say we are tired. We. Are. Tired.
I hope that you and other White people can understand 400 years of racism and a racial caste system that still exists today. Race is embedded in our Constitution, it’s everywhere. For Black people, our race and racism are inescapable. Thanks to colonialism and our founders the two are inextricably linked.
Allow me to address some of your points (excuse any mistakes please):
“poor people in general, both black and white, experience some of these things, too.”
I know but poor people endure mistreatment, but Black people is what I focused on. To even mention this in my opinion whether you realize it or not decenters the focus away from what I’m trying to convey by inserting poor people and White people. This isn’t about poverty. It’s about racial microaggressions.
“but white people, too, suffer the inequities handed out by privileged white men and women.”
Using but cancels out everything you meant, or at least that’s what I was taught. You’re basically again centering White people. Everyday they wake up they have an opportunity or a chance simply because of the color of their skin and their European names. Many of us don’t have such opportunities. I agree privileged White people create inequities, you’re attempting to separate White people from White people and failing to realize these same poor White people (like many Trump voters) hate Blacks and people of color. Even those who suffer can be racist. This again detracts from the issue and gives a thin covering for White racists.
“but I thought we were all in it together since women of all races and ethnicities have endured sexual assaults. I honestly didn’t know black women started it or felt this way about #MeToo. I don’t think the intent was to offend those who started the movement.”
You start off with you’re sorry, but then you cancel it with excuses for White women. Again, #MeToo was created for Black women by a Black woman 10 years prior to Alyssa Milano snatching it up because Black women aren’t believed when we come forward with rape allegations. We don’t trust the criminal justice system, and we have historically had issues with the police. It’s not that Black women feel a way about #MeToo, it’s that when we have movements, White people steal them, primarily White women. That’s not very sisterly, and you’ve ignored the repeated theft part to center on intentions that don’t matter. It’s the perception that matters. #MeToo is all about White women now, and no cared about #MeToo until a White woman said it.
“As for BlackLivesMatter, it wasn’t liberals like me who appropriated the slogan and made it AllLivesMatter. As far as I’m concerned, that was just a slap back from the rich white ruling class. I agree completely.”
I never said anything about liberals using “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” but I said White people. You not only inserted yourself to separate yourself from White people collectively, you noted a political affiliation (liberal) to again signify there were “other kinds of White people” responsible for these thefts. I have seen liberals and progressives say both are important either out of ignorance or because they perhaps have loved ones who work in law enforcement. In any event, it decenters the problem of stealing movements and the actions of a lot White people.
“I do want you to know that most of us liberals are trying as hard as we can not to be racist.”
I really believe this. Deconstructing yourself is really difficult. I understanding parenting, society, our systems and institutions, our social orders, and national/global caste system has programmed White people to be the way they are. It’s up to each individual to do the work. I’m sure it’s frustrating and aggravating. But guess what? The only way racism will ever cease is if White people do the work to make it stop. Learning and sharing with others is the only way to do so. As time goes on, we will see (and feel) those changes and live will be better for us all. Until then, working on yourself is not enough. America has this selfish, individualistic world view we’re taught from a young age. Everything is “I,” “I,” “I,” which is a huge problem when it comes to see ourselves as connected. We’re not well until we’re all well.
“Sometimes, though, I feel I can’t get break from very sensitive black people. I’m becoming afraid to speak openly to a black friend — afraid I’ll say the wrong thing in my clumsy attempts to be completely non-racist and not cause offense.”
I’m trying not to be offended by this comment (I honestly know you didn’t intend to offend), but I want you to know I do understand what you mean. If you only have one Black friend to talk to, you have a problem (I’m not sure if that’s what you’re implying). Diversity in all things, including Black friend pools is the only way to continue your learning. Because most White people enjoy their people of color assimilated, your friend may be taxed if you’re her only Black friend and you’re talking more than asking questions to learn about what’s offensive to the collective vs what’s offensive to her individually on things tied to race.
As far as getting a break from sensitive Black people, allow me to give you an example that will hopefully bring how we feel home. I can’t get a break from being Black. I can’t take my Black off. I can’t escape it. I can’t change my birth certificate race. I have no power to change any system. The only thing I can do is tell White people what they do to harm us every, single, day. When I do that, White people get angry and tell me I’m racist instead of acknowledging what we’re discussing. I can’t even talk without White men (and some non-White men) telling me I’m the problem. We see more of this behavior than allyship.
The actions of White people speak louder than the words of White people. If we could take off our Black skins and be something else, many people would because of the burdens, responsibilities, and punishments that come with it.
Again understand, many Black people are just tired and afraid. We are tired of White people promising to do better collectively and they don’t. We are tired of Whites both liberals and conservatives voting their wallets and household interests instead of humanity’s interest collectively. We’re tired of racial discrimination. What you likely see if frustration. We’re wondering how come you guys don’t know what you did and continue to do to us. White people keep showing us we must wait for justice and equality. The insensitivity is about much more than just you saying the wrong things.
Our lives are in danger and we see so much apathy fro liberals which is disappointing. Another thing that’s disappointing is that liberals would rather come up with an excuse to protect bad White people rather than calling them out in our presence. Dump your liberal “I” for one moment.
Look around at White people in America. Listen to them. Watch the media. Listen. Watch the polls. Watch you local and state politics, your legislature is likely predominantly White, right? We can’t catch a break and the one thing we want and desire is to be treated like human beings and White people get tired. Everything America focuses on is White.
“Do you think there is reverse racism?”
No. I don’t know who made that bullshit up except the same kind of racists who steal movements and code switch lol. Black people cannot be racist because we are not the dominant race. White people are and have been the dominant race for over 200 years. So no, there is no such thing as reverse racism. It’s just another way to decenter the behavior of White people (perpetrators of racism) and shift blame onto the victims (Black people).
We (Blacks) can be racially biased or racially jaded, but never racist because #1. We (Blacks) are not the ones who created the belief that your race (Whites) is inherently superior. The White race set up an entire system that still operates on the belief that Whiteness is priceless. Whiteness was designated as the only national race recognized and to have rights (see the Constitution). Our government still to this day operates under this premise 200 plus years late. Anyone who uses reverse racism is ignorant or racist. Period.
Please don’t get angry for me taking the time to break down your comment to illustrate how I (we, Black) hear the words you and other well-meaning Whites, liberals, allies, etc., write. I want us all to be able to communicate. I beg of you to please not become afraid to engage with your friends or other Black people. We may become irritated with all the various unintentional microaggressions we experience not just from you but from many White people daily. If we’re in a relationship with you, the reason we’re saying something is because you’re a sort of safe space or refuge. If we allow you to continue doing the unintentional racist acts, you’re not bringing us any peace. You’re not comforting us. You’re adding discomfort to our lives that seems inescapable.
I know some Black people are SUPER irritated to the point that their comments may bite, so much so I wouldn’t advise White people to engage with them because they may unintentionally offend, but the intentions don’t matter when feelings are hurt. Your feelings matter too and you should not be afraid to talk. We have to learn to engage better. But understand we as children are taught as soon as we can talk how to navigate White people.
I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a comprehensive piece. I’m learning a lot about how we think and see things differently. We must figure out a way to communicate without eating each other alive. I think we can do it. Conversations like these are a start. Thanks for adding to the discussion.