White Allies; The Good, The Bad, And The FuglyRecent discussions here and at several other blogs have centered on how to be anti-racist and more on race and racism, understanding when things go wrong, whether we feel comfortable or discomfort discussing these subjects in mixed company, or even if we can ever really understand each other. Each of these discussions are so very different, and yet so much sameness. What I like best is that each of these posts is written by a white blogger. Each of these people understand that people of color can't be the only anti-racists, that this is something we do together, and that white people must be involved in teaching and learning.
In Bewildered Part II, I mentioned the pain of finding out that someone I thought of as a friend was only being my friend as a favor. In the comments of the first Bewildered post BlackAmazon can't get past the gall of white women saying they expect special commendations for loving their black husbands and mixed race children. There should be no special recognition for doing what should be normal, loving your partner and children no matter what their race! Expectations of unconditional love, gratitude, and undying loyalty no questions asked, are how you might feel about a dog you have rescued from the pound; not a real friend or ally.
Nezua says it too:
I did everything I could to be respectful, to speak the Queen's English in the most careful and splendiferous of ways, to tame my wild, Brown™ friends who had no patience for the bullshit and saw right through it, to keep the room civil. And you know what? It didn't matter. The WHITEPROGRESSIVES came to my joint, spit their shit and split. And I was actually hurt. Can you imagine? Naive Nezua. But he learns quickly.
Like a battered wife who swears to la chota that she had it coming, me and dear Sylvia were still fretting as if we did something wrong. Greenwald's message included the amazing implication that social progress on these issues was not moving forward because of us OVERSENSITIVES. Even more egregious and bold is the implication that WHITE people are doing The Brown™ a favor by comin' round and entering discussions. And that if we don't toe the line, where will we be then? When they decide they just don't feel like engaging it?
And Sylvia too:
After writing that comment, I felt really badly about pointing out that dynamic. Not even how I did it, just that I did it at all. And I thought about the impact it would have on discussion. I felt really upset because I recognized the chance that Greenwald would not engage Nez’s points, and he would not care to find out if I would stick around for the discussion so he’d feel…well…”safe.”
And Greenwald hasn’t returned yet. In the meantime, I questioned what I had done, exactly. Had I called this man a racist? And I did start feeling upset, so I tried to enter again and apologize for the haste. I tried to contribute carefully worded examples in the discussion, I apologized like crazy, and I felt like shit for quite a while. It was hard to try again. I felt butthurt.
POC must be appropriately grateful, respectful, and admiring. White allies can say whatever they want and shouldn't be called on it if it's ignorant and racist. They mean well.
Ok, not you. I don't mean MY white friends. You're the good ones! LOL So I am giving you your anti-racist assignment for this week. You should read all the posts that I linked to and the comments, but if you are pressed for time, at least make time for those last two by Nezua: The Skin of My Soul (Intermission) and Sylvia: White Privilege and the (Knee-Jerk) Woman of Color. I wanted to reach right through the monitor and hug the stuffin' outta both of them!
And if you finish your assignment I have a reward for you. You must view some "reverse racism" and be properly outraged! Or if I have trained you correctly you will laugh your butt off. Either way, here are a couple of great movie clips from YouTube. First at AradhanaD's place: Just Because... then at Amp's place: Nice White Lady to the Rescue.