I got into an internet argument with white people today about their racism. It didn’t go over very well, as most conversations about racism tend to do. But, for me, it was a learning experience.
This is how it started, and it devolved into calling the red image ‘racism’. Which it isn’t.
I don’t regret calling out racism. That is my duty as a white person. Maybe I could have gone about it a little differently, but after quietly watching the black community engage with racists for several months, I took it in stride to approach it the same as they do: directly pointing out in what ways they are perpetuating systemic racism.
I was told it was too confrontational. Yes, and no. When people are already engaging in a way where they are being outright racists, it’s hard to provide the emotional labor needed to put them in a place to listen. They already aren’t listening, and they don’t want to listen. But that won’t excuse them from not being called out as a racist.
They got mad that I called them racists. They in turn pointed out all the ways they experienced “racism” toward them. They brought in “my black friends”, they brought it “racism is a crutch”, they brought in “You’re being a racist.”
Essentially, they did the typical white defense against being called a racist. I pulled out my bingo board to see what I had.
Damn, not quite bingo. If only my board had been arranged a little differently…
Regardless of them not being in a place to listen, I gave book recommendations on how to address/see their racism. I don’t expect them to read it, but who knows, maybe in 5-10 years, if they have a change of heart, they’ll try to remember what those book titles were. Hell, I even put it out there that I’m still willing to engage if they’re willing to reflect. But I’ve seen and experience the ultimate Waste Of Time it is to fight with an uncompromising wall. (What other kind of walls are there?) Ain’t interested.
Either way, I think I might start a series of posts here, or on fb, or both, where I write about the things I’m learning about racism. Ijeoma Oluo does a fantastic job about framing racial issues in a way that makes it easy for the White audience to understand. But she’s also a black woman who is doing a lot of emotional labor that she shouldn’t have to do. I know this is what she chose to do. I am her target audience. Now it’s time for me to utilize that knowledge to engage with the White audience who are willing to engage but may not necessarily be willing to accept the reality of our White Supremacist society. I don’t expect this to be a fruitful adventure. I expect it to be a lot of talking to walls. But I hope I can put some dents or cracks in there. We’ll see.