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It’s happened multiple times. In fact, I’ve dealt with it two times just today on Medium in my article comments. This must be the day for me to be a broken record. I don’t know how many times I’ve told white people this, but apparently they’re not listening. So I’ll say it one more time:
And when I say “never,” I mean under no circumstances should you open your mouth to defend another white person who a non-white person calls a racist. You’re not experts. Those anti-racism seminars you attended and documentaries you watched mean nothing. You don’t live it. You don’t breathe it. You don’t suffer under the weight of it.
I’m tired of speaking on this, but until you get it, that’s what I’ll do. You know how we’ve become experts? The stories we’ve heard from older relatives who couldn’t even drink out of your water fountains; tales we’ve shared amongst ourselves when we’re surrounded by whiteness and just trying to survive it; stories of countless microaggressions we swallow like glass because you refuse to listen when we talk about them.
You don’t know what we endure. If you did, you wouldn’t blindly defend another white person instead of listening to us so you can actually learn how to spot racism when you see it. How do you know when you yourself uphold racism by discounting our words when we call it out? If you really think you know racism when you see it, why don’t you speak up? I don’t see racism getting any better. I don’t see most of you even pretending like you care about us or what we’re experiences at the hands of white people — at the hands of you.
Lately, I’ve been drowning in white tears. Why? Because you weep them if we call you “white,” “racist” or “privileged” when, in fact, you’re all these things. You might not own a white sheet, but you perpetuate white supremacy every time you attempt to silence us. If your first response to an accusation of racism is a knee-jerk reaction and an angry rebuttal, you’re part of the problem. And you’re dangerous to us. If we had to depend on people like you to teach us about racism, we would still be picking cotton and planning our escape to the North.
Think about that when you insist on defending a racist because you know them or you like them. Friends and neighbors of serial killers claimed they were good, kind people too. Racists aren’t necessarily angry individuals foaming at the mouth — although many go there when you question their beliefs. They can speak in the loveliest tones, and their words can be the ugliest, most vile utterances you’ve ever heard.
While we’re at it, let’s also be done with nice white people. Nice doesn’t equal fair. Kind doesn’t equal allyship. But defensiveness of racism equals racism. We should be thankful you defended racism. Now we know on which side you stand, and it’s not our side. You’re on the side of protecting white supremacy. Instead of learning, you’re choosing oppression.
So what do I want you to do? First, stop defending racists. You’re not helping them, and you’re certainly not helping us. In fact, you’re making it worse. Racists need little encouragement to continue harming us, and too many of their fellow white people are happy to provide them with excuses. I know this is hard for you, but I want you to listen. Listen to our words without interruption. Entertain the possibility that we just might know more about racism than you do. Because we do.