As much as I hate talking about racism and interracial relations, and feeling like a broken record on repeat, and basically paraphrasing everything that other activists of color have preached, I still want to add to the conversation. If not, I feel like I’m not pulling my weight in this constant battle for equality.
NOW, this article is inspired by my mistakes of religiously visiting the comments section on posts and articles made by other people of color. To my dismay, I often see a never ending onslaught of prejudiced commentary made by non-people of color. They make claims that the original poster is racist, that the poster is a part of the problem, and proclaim that they themselves experience racism as white person. They are so quick to blame people of color for the ultimate division of races and ignore the role that white people have played in the this great racial divide.
They talk about black or some other person’s of color privilege (which is often in reference to their exclusion of the conversation about racial discrimination).
They mention all black spaces (that were initially created due to white exclusion).
They bring up cultural appropriation without fully understanding the definition of the term (no, eating another culture’s food is not cultural appropriation. Neither is wearing jeans. Just stop).
They defend anyone who is wearing black face because it is “authentic” (I’m not even).
They never forget to comment on the apparent racial “double-standards” between white people and persons of color (I will never forget a post I read about a white person wishing he was black JUST so he can say the “n-” word. I can’t).
They never fail to add the fact that they have at least one friend who is a person of color, and said friend is okay with whatever they say/ think (HELLO! Your one friend doesn’t speak for all of us! You hate it when we lump all white people together. What makes you think we’d be okay with it?).
They are also quick to call any person of color every single racial slur and offer threats of violence against anyone who disagrees with them or tries to tell them otherwise (Okay, let me try to come up with an offensive racial slur for white people that’s just as bad as the “n-” word… Oh wait, it doesn’t exist).
This is a very trying time for people of color because, thanks to the internet, not only does it give these negative, ignorant commenters their own mini platform, but it makes it even harder to try to educate anyone when they see that there are others who share their thoughts and feelings. It’s the same umbrella of ignorance that is fueled by that one person of color friend, but it is applied to the rest of the human race. The reason why this thought process is so dangerous is because it justifies ignoring what people of color are saying. It also maintains that person’s narrow view of people of color as a stereotype, and more often than not, that stereotype is negative, untrue, and dehumanizing.
Clumping people of color together not only erases personal experience and individuality, but it also gives the white person an entitled sense of superiority. For example, I can’t tell you how many times I have read that the phrases, “government leeches,” “money grubbing n******,” “lazy ass n*****,” “racist n*****,” “fucking n*****,” “I will cut you,” “I will kill you,” “kiss my fucking ass you n******,” “Stop acting like fucking bitches,” “racism is over you dumb ass n*****,”hood rat ass,” “welfare queens/ kings,” I could go on. These comments are the constant reminders that racism and racial stereotypes still play a huge role in the interactions between people of color and white folks, even if a substantial amount of those interactions are limited to online channels.
What is fascinating to me is that these angry, racially charged comments are often written and entered in response to a racial activist’s post. Like, these white people actively sought out or followed that page and then got mad when the owner of the page adds a story or status update that is based on racism or their personal experiences with racism. It’s like they’re offended by the original poster for posting content that doesn’t personally relate to them. They then insert themselves in the conversation and get mad when they are dismissed or have their privilege pointed out to them. They THEN insist that this is REVERSE RACISM, after they chose to follow a safe, online space dedicated to people of color and their conversations. These very few spaces that are not tailored to white people, and white people LITERALLY get mad that this one space won’t be inclusive of them, even though there are plenty of other spaces tailored to encompass them.
I WANT TO BE HEARD!
WHY IS NO ONE LISTENING TO ME!
I’M ENTITLED TO BE HEARD!
EVEN THOUGHT I’M NOT A PERSON OF COLOR! Nor experienced institutionalized racism personally. Or any racism actually. Ya, I guess I got a fair rate on my mortgage. In fact, I also like the police. I trust them. And my kids go play on the streets all the times. Oh no, I don’t worry about them with guns. Anyone who sees them obviously knows it a toy. And my school? Oh, I had the best education…
BUT I WANT PART OF THIS CONVERSATION AND THAT’S JUST AS BAD AS THE RACISM YOU PEOPLE OF COLOR HAVE EXPERIENCED!
Like I mentioned in my previous post, any non person of color who tries to insert themselves in a conversation between people of color looks just as ridiculous as a sober person with zero drinking problems trying to insert themselves and their experiences into an AA meeting. It’s crazy! The same way how the recovering alcoholics are going to kick you out of the meeting, is the same way how people of color are going to dismiss you. You, as a non person of color, will never provide any eye-opening, mind blowing insight to the decades-long conversations that people of color have been maintaining.
In fact, if you try to interject yourself into the conversation and then rage about it, you are literally proving yourself to be a part of the problem that people of color are tired of dealing with. This abrupt, and harmful, display of white privilege is just one aspect out of hundreds that people of color have to deal with on a daily basis. Now, if I recall correctly, Peggy McIntosh had this as a point in her book White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Specifically, she mentions that while people will never feel like a pariah because of their race in public spaces, whether they’re institutionalized or social.
Unlike people of color, who have been experiencing this form of societal rejection from the very beginning, since blacks were brought to the United States, this is a recent development for non-people of color. They haven’t been educated from birth that there are spaces that won’t welcome them due to the color of their skin. No one will look down upon them and make a bunch of negative assumptions based on the color of their skin. Unlike black children who are taught about racial rejection from the start, white children, and overall white people, as a whole, never had to be sat down for “the talk.” They are taught that they are an exemplary individual. More often than not, they are pushed to believe that they are better than everyone else. They are hardly ever told that there are others who are better than them. Racial rejection is never a learned topic. It is not seen as a necessary humbling experience that a non person of color has to go through. So, when this social rejection occurs, instead of having a foundation to fall back on, a lot of people will lash out, confused as to why no one would want to listen to their exemplary, non person of color insights. I have seen this occur repeatedly, over and over again. The non-person’s of color first comment will be a skewed opinion that uses language and concepts that they have yet to fully grasp, and when a person of color (or even a fellow non-person of color) corrects or tries to explain the flaws or inaccuracies in the original post, the original non-person of color will completely ignore the reply and quickly turn hostile. They will often result in using racial slurs and physical threats of violence.
Now, I’m only speaking about online interactions because that’s where I have had the most experience. I have had quite a few racially charged instances in person, but they, as a whole, don’t compare to the frequency of what happens online. In person, the threats of a physicality and repercussions are enough to make some people rethink before they speak. BUT when they get behind a computer screen and keyboard, the lack of physical threats, coupled with the mini platform and the small circle of supporters I mentioned above, people often feel more justified in their cause. The thought of the lack of repercussions, or the idea of what happens online stays online, also gives these people a false sense of entitlement. I can’t tell you how many times a white person posted racially charged threats online, calling black people “n******” and typed out every racial slur and stereotype possible, and when someone screen caps their post and finds out where that person works, they try to back track and provide a half-assed apology, trying to play it off as a joke. People of color and fellow allies then contact the racist poster’s place of work, and that person often loses their job. That’s what I mean by the “idea of what happens online stays online.”
In today’s society, there’s no such thing as anonymity online. Your information can be found anywhere. You can search the internet by pictures. There are so many facial recognition programs out there that no one safe. Companies keep their employee database on computers, which can be accessed remotely. Sure, we might have had that sense of obscurity online 10 years ago, but technology has evolved since then to where it is SUPER invasive. What is intriguing to me is that there are people who seem to ignore this fact (along with many others). Even the younger generations, who have grown up with this technology and is currently up-to-date with the latest trends and apps, seem to have this aura of invincibility when it comes to making personal commentary online. Teens feel entitled to post whatever comes to mind, even if it is racist and discriminating, and they don’t realize that it will follow them into the real world. No one is safe behind their screen.
With that being said, I am always confused by the backlash people of color seem to receive when they call people out for their racist comments. It’s almost like the non-person of color is oblivious because someone is actually holding them accountable for their actions/ words. For example, I’ve read people of color correct a white person’s comments with facts and statistics (like it’s really white people who consume and abuse the majority of government programs, or that it’s white people who commit the most on white crimes, or it’s white people who are more likely to use and abuse drugs (according to not only the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, but also the Centers for Disease Control, AND the Department of Health and Human Services), or there hasn’t been one case of a white child being gunned down for playing with a toy gun), and the white person being corrected just ignored the facts, even when they are from reputable, unbiased sources. It’s like whatever the person of color is saying bears zero value to them, which is very peculiar, because these are the same white people who get cranky when their opinions are challenged or ignored.
The reason for this post is to not only rant about white people, but to point out that the internet isn’t the place to post and be a violent racist towards people of color. There are too many ways that it can affect your personal life, and if you put your shit out there, it will come back to bite you. I’m not making a threat, but merely an observation. Why? Because your information is already available. Finding out your political party is as simple as a quick Google search. This is why it is not okay to be a racist. It is not okay to post racist shit! It is not okay to post racial slurs! It is not okay to remain ignorant when, just like your personal information, the facts and statistics are a quick internet search away! It is not okay! Like, (and I swear, I only hear white people yell and bitch and complain about this) just because you have the freedom of speech, you are not protected by the repercussions of your shitty, hate filled speech. Remember that.
To those who posted crappy comments riddled with racial slurs and threats of violence to pages that are supposed to be safe spaces for people of color, you literally have no right to be mad or surprised when that shit comes right back at you. To all of those people who lost their jobs or business because of what you posted to the internet, take this as a lesson learned. The internet isn’t a safe space from real life, even though people use it to escape from it. Also, there will be spaces that aren’t made for you, and that’s okay. Why? Because the rest of society is catered to you. Don’t be petty, spiteful, and ignorant, just because your opinion isn’t validated. And if you do get that petty and spiteful, take the time to reflect on how people of color must feel.
Literally, if you hate people ignoring and invalidating everything you say, imagine how people of color must feel being told to “get over it” and “racism doesn’t exist” and “shut up, quite your whining” when they try to point out the facts and statistics incorporated with their personal experiences to try and educate those who are quick to dismiss any struggle they can’t personally relate to.
And if that’s too hard for you, DON’T FOLLOW RACIAL ACTIVISTS’ PAGES!
It’s literally that simple.
Just don’t like them, and you’ll never have to see any of their posts, and then you can’t get mad because you’re not being excluded. In fact, it’s even better because YOU’RE excluding THEM!