I know you aren’t a f*cking racist so please stop using that phrase. Seriously stop it. It seems that when conversations start making white people uncomfortable and when confronted with their problematic language or views the logical step is to assume “we think you are a racist.” Well, we don’t. But what does make sense is the fear that you as a white person are going down racist lane. You are worried that we will judge your lack of knowledge or your lack of understanding and immediately consider you a racist. You think because you realized you aren’t as “woke” as you thought or maybe because you hang around black folks and thought you “got it”means you would not have the same response to situations as those other “white people”, but you did, and then the worst happened. You were corrected by a person of color, you were asked to look at how problematic your words or thoughts were, you were made to see how verbiage can be problematic, or the worst, you were told you have white privilege- and were using it. Oh, white privilege. The easily talked about term that is hard to admit being used.
Friends. I want you to really think before you want to pull the “I’m not a racist” phrase and what it actually means and does. When the phrase is used it is meant to get reassurance from the person of color that no, “you are aren’t a racist”. The protecting of the white fragility. The conversation goes from talking about an important subject to protecting the white person’s feelings. How fair is that? Incorrect words or verbiage is used and instead of being about to talk about it, we have to spend that time coddling and reassuring to make sure you don’t feel like a racist. Do you see how problematic that is? It switched from the person of color and the problematic area being talked about to coddling your feelings because you aren’t as “woke” as you thought you were.
We understand this is a hard pill to swallow. But we are asking you to swallow it and think about what is being said and what is being asked of you and your “wokeness”. I know the feelings of being thought of as a racist are terrible and you want to make sure it is known that you aren’t a racist. Don’t worry. We know you aren’t. But you need to stop throwing that phrase around whenever the feeling of uncomfortableness occurs. It stops conversation, and not in a good way. We need you to work through that uncomfortableness, we need you to know that you aren’t thought of as a racist, just as a person who is still learning and hopefully doing the work. At the end of the day everyone has work to do within the the area of race, even people of color. We can’t stop the work because you get uncomfortable.
Here are a few ideas when that feeling of “oh shit” I don’t know as much as I thought or crap, I just offended a person of color happens. (because it will)
- DO NOT SAY I AM NOT A RACIST. Don’t. Swallow it.
- Breath. Take a second and just breath.
- Ask, “Can you help me understand the correct verbiage I need to use.”
- Ask, “tell you tell me more so I can understand.