Tired of Whiteness
I have some white people in my life I still call friends. I call them that, but as I am less silent about the lies this country loves to propagate about people who look like me, Black people, I find myself being more honest about my relationships with white people. That honesty is hard because it tells me that I don’t think of these people as my friends anymore. I’m scared to talk to them. I’m scared to be alone with them because I don’t trust their perceptions of Blackness. And I don’t trust them to understand the fear and horror of my reality.
They don’t know how I struggle to face the day filled with casual slights about the skills, ethics, and morality of Black people. They don’t know how I have to comport myself in an environment that actively denigrates and oppresses me. They don’t know what it’s like to work in a sea of brown faces that are intentionally excluded from protections they take for granted. I work in an organization that uses consistently uses contractors but only hires the non-Black ones, regardless of tenure. It is common to see a Black person stay in a contract position for years while white contractors hired years after them become employees. This one act keeps Black people in a positon of job insecurity as they wonder whether the contract will be renewed, and it keeps us unprotected from discrimination and racism, as the contracting company will keep the client happy at your expense. Imagine having a team who, should you push back against any violations, will have you removed and labeled a “problem employee” barring you from future roles. This is everyday reality because it’s inconvenient for white people to admit, acknowledge, or combat racism.
And that’s if they believe me or support me. It’s a lot of work to support Black equality and slavery shows how this country felt about hard work.
I no longer have the patience to understand how white people don’t understand racism. I no longer have the fortitude to listen to lazy excuses for why they don’t get it. I know why. They don’t care. It’s not a problem for them. This isn’t the life they know and as long as they limit their exposure to Black people, they never have to discuss it or deal with any of the ramifications of their indifference.
If they live their white lie lives, they never need to address the harm they do.
I am so fucking tired of complacent white people who think the status quo is fine. I am so tired of trying to figure out how to dismantle the current system while surviving in it. I am tired of trying to figure out how to escape…cuz I only see one way and it’s not one you live through.
Every time a Black person is attacked, harassed, shot, or murdered by white people, I have to talk myself back from a ledge. My rage is burning out, and so is my will.
And I live a soft life. I have an office job, a home...all my basic and material needs are met. I have free time and I have options about what I do with that time. I am fortunate and privileged. And yet, I am still undone when I see Black people murdered for existing. Black men. Black women. Black children. Black transgender people. Black humans who are doing routine things are murdered for living their lives. Murdered by the police because cops are barely punished for killing Black people. In fact, they are actively rewarded with monetary compensation and paid leave after murdering Black people.
And to have any person, especially any white person, try to justify that shit makes me hate them. It makes me look at them and hate who they are because their compassion is broken. Their empathy is warped. They will not admit that some part of them believe in the lie of some inherent danger of Blackness. That some part of them does not think I’m as human as they are.
The moment they say, “They should have complied.”
The moment they ask, “Did they do what the cops said?” or “What did they do?”
In that moment, I’m put on notice that they are looking for a reason to blame someone for their own murder. And that means that I can’t trust them.
If there is one thing I’ve had to accept, it’s that white people protect white people. They protect them when they lie (see Donald Trump). They protect them when they rape women (see David Becker and Brock Turner). They protect them when they sexually abuse children (see Kraigen Grooms). They protect them when they enable abuse (see Joe Paterno). They protect them when they murder (see murderers of John Crawford, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Freddie Grey, Rekia Boyd, and on and on and on).
In the meantime, we see news report after news report of white men shooting at police and being taken alive. We hear about white men who killed innocent, unarmed people being taken alive (see Dylan Roof, Robert Dear, and James Holmes). We see white people manage to engage in acts of unspeakable violence and still be considered worthy of our compassion and charity, while Black people murdered in the street somehow deserved it.
So, no. I don’t trust white people with my Blackness and that makes me sad. It makes me especially sad because sometimes that includes my husband.
And it makes me wonder if this is any way to live.