This has been happening quite a bit on social media over the past few days. When a Black woman or woman of color (myself included) writes a piece or makes a comment/post/tweet regarding: racism, white people, gaslighting, microaggressions, etc. a white person will jump into our thread or write a response that we are “wrong” or “being racist” or are a hypocrite because we are “treating white people the way [some] white people have treated you”, and “it’s just not fair” they say in a huff.
Oftentimes these tactics are also demonstrated more heavily against Black women. Wonder why? Perhaps it’s because Black women exist at the intersection of Black and female; two demographics often seen as the lowest tier in their respective categories. So how dare they, being both Black and female, shut us down or block us?
When white people ask [demand] us to have a conversation with them on race issues, while it may be an easy experience for them, it is far from a cakewalk for us.
Do they have any idea how many times we’ve heard the same rebuttals they’re spewing?
“Slavery existed before slavery in the U.S. Africans had slaves.”
“Cops are killing Black people? What about all the Black on Black crime?”
“White people have it better? I’ve been poor. We were homeless!”
“I’m married to a Black woman so how can I be racist?”
“The definition of racism is prejudice or discrimination against someone of a different race, so white people can experience racism.”
“White people are a minority in other countries and they’re targeted so they can be victims of racism.”
“Racism existed before white people did it.”
They’re cycling through the same responses just worded differently, but it’s an identical point or theme. More often than not our posts, articles, tweets already address what they are talking about, but they either don’t read it or disregard it entirely. That tells us they’re not trying to learn. They can’t learn when they bypass the first step in learning: listening.
All a back and forth does is cause us pain, anger and depletes our strength because we know, based on their tired responses, they are not ready to hear our truth about existing in this country as a non-white person.
Neither are they ready to hear about their culpability in a system that benefits them and destroys us.
Their questioning, and demand that we answer, itself comes from a place of entitlement and a feeling of superiority. No different than the white women who sees a Black person and asks what are they doing, then gets upset and phones the police when they receive a less than polite response. Just because you ask politely does not change the fact that you had no right to ask and even less right to expect an answer.
We are not here to engage you at your request. Want engagement? Show us you are doing the work before you approach us.
Even those who agree that racism is an issue for marginalized people would rather expend more time arguing with us about how we speak on it than actually combatting it.
Many ask us to provide them with information readily accessible online because they don’t want to do the research. They’d rather browbeat us into being quiet, or addressing what they want in a tone they prefer.
Another issue is both white people who genuinely want to learn and those who just want to waste your time, want you to provide your time for free.
One recent conversation on Twitter between Tori Douglass and a white male dragged on. After she told him she was not going to continue the discussion he still continued to press for responses so she said fine, she charges $125 an hour and for him to book an appointment.
Of course he responded in typical fashion.
Notice how white etiquette is adhered. The wording is reasonable. But asking someone to provide their time and labor for free is not reasonable.
Black women and women of color, from conferences to one on one are expected to educate people with little to no compensation. Her reply was perfect:
And yet he still tries to make it seem as though the problem is her unhealthy habit of establishing boundaries and knowing her value.
Must be nice having the luxury to be able to devote your time free of charge.
The same goes with blocking and muting.
We create our boundaries based on what is comfortable for us. We don’t need a slew of redundancy in the replies. If we feel talking with someone is a waste of time, the person may get blocked or muted. We do not have to engage with every person who wants to “have a conversation”. Just like a person approaching on the street to “talk”, we have the choice of walking away. We decide if we want to give you our time and we decide when we’ve given enough of it.
To learn do the research, buy books written by marginalized people on issues regarding the topics. There are regularly lists online of some of the best works out there now, many of whom are Black women writing in depth about a variety of topics and there’s the added bonus of supporting the people doing the work.
It’s a win/win.