Calling all white people, part 7: Don’t succumb to hurt feelings

Calling All White People, Part 7

(A periodic attempt to mobilize white people for something other than supporting just other melanin-deficient folks and maintaining a status quo of a nation geared toward whiteness as the baseline and the norm)

By An Average White Guy

TODAY’S EPISODE: Your feelings *will* get hurt; don’t run away like a punk
[To find other installments of “Calling All White People,” click here]

Because I have rather a larger amount of Black people in my Twitter follows and in my Facebook friends list than the average white person (hey, I’m not An Average White Guy in all things in life; just overall), I see all sorts of interactions between them and my fellow whitefolk. And there are quite a number of times that white people say questionable, touchy and/or stupid stuff (even when intending to be nice) and get, as they say in the vernacular, “dragged around the Internet.” Or at least dragged around the social media platform at which the faux pas was committed.

There are also times when a white person will say something truly harmless, neutral or even outright positively supportive and uplifting, and there will be a Black person who says something along the lines of:

  • “I don’t need your validation or approval, white boy.”
  • “You don’t have any business here. Go away.”
  • “This isn’t meant for any of you white people.”

And so on.

If you are a white person who has any kind of semi-regular interaction with Black people online (or other non-white folks, but especially Black people), your feelings will probably get hurt at some point. Or you’ll cringe as some unwitting other white person gets their pride wounded or their ego throat-punched.

Sometimes, it is because a white person put his or her foot firmly between their tongue and the roof of their mouth (let’s face it: many of us don’t handle race topics deftly). Sometimes it’s because there is a misunderstanding. Sometimes it’s because the Black person is in a particularly sensitive point of life or has been having a bad patch. Sometimes it’s because that Black person just doesn’t like white people.

Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. Most Black people would love for us all to meet on a fair, loving and socially level playing field and get along and move forward. But there are some who have reached their limit and really don’t give a damn about us and would prefer we just go away, refrain from finding sneaky ways to oppress them anyway, and let them succeed without us showing our beige/pink/cream-colored flesh anywhere near them.

I mention this because there are not an insignificant number of white people who, when they get a “nastygram” online (or in person) from a Black person, then say something to the effect of (either in their heads or literally out loud): “Well, if that’s the way I’m going to be treated, I won’t bother trying to understand race issues or do anything to try to fix racism.”

That, my friends, is what one would call a punk move.

That’s along the same lines as “nice” dudes who crow about how great a friend they are to women and how much they are in favor of feminism and then say “Fuck women” and start posting memes about “ball busting bitches” the moment some gal they are really hung up on declines to date them or have sex.

Racism in this country is a problem, in all its many forms, from systemic racism to institutional bias to white privilege to individual bigotry and everything in the nooks and crannies in between. If you are going to stop educating yourself about where racism exists and how it hurts us a society, and if you are going to abandon the idea of trying to connect with non-white people and just toss away the notion of working to reduce and refute racism…just because of ONE (or even a few…or several) unkind words from Black people, well…

…then you were never about justice or equality anyway, it would seem.

If Black people en masse tell us white people to piss off, we might have a problem and a chasm that has finally become too wide to bridge. But that has never yet happened in the history of our nation. I don’t expect it to happen any time soon, if ever. If a minority of people making you feel bad causes you to assume that the majority or entirety of that population shares the same disregard for you, then you are the one with the real problem. Namely, a really thin skin.

So, if your feelings get hurt, have your little private cry in your own space if you need to, get your shit together and go back to being a decent human being and caring about the elimination of racism and other forms of oppression (including, but not limited to, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism).

It’s the least you can do if you want to claim to be an actual fully evolved human being. You should do the right things because they actually are right, not for kind treatment by the oppressed parties.
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Your “Calling All White People” resource, or An Average White Guy menu

Those darn white people. Always seeing us doing something cool in communities of color and then turning it trendy (belly dancing, yoga, etc.) or taking our art and running off and doing your own thing with it and banking checks, with rap being one of the biggies (I do have love in my musical heart for The Beastie Boys and Eminem).

And now An Average White Guy.

To both his surprise and mine, the “Calling All White People” series has proven to be pretty popular, beyond the passing fancy he had envisioned. So, this post (which I will update and reference online from time to time) will be the resource to the compendium of advice and insight from An Average White Guy.

At least I know he’s not good with public speaking, so he won’t be horning in on that part of my action.

Calling All White People / Average White Guy Posts

Calling all white people, part 1: Ally or accomplice
Is being an ally enough? For some people, maybe, but consider becoming an accomplice instead in racial justice. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 2: I’m not racist (oh, realllly?)
If you have to point out much that you’re not racist, that might mean you actually are, and some thoughts on avoiding that trap. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 3: Stepping on toes
You aren’t always going to make friends being part of anti-racism efforts; in fact, you might lose a lot of people or need to eject some from your life. But it’s how change will be come. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 4: Enjoy from afar
Sometimes, entering into conversations of people of color when you aren’t one is a bad idea, but by all means learn something from them. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 5: Misusing MLK
There is a really bad habit among white people, especially the ones who want to look good rather than do good, of quoting Martin Luther King Jr. out of context. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 6: Credit where it’s due, please
Learn about issues of racism and oppression from those most affected by it whenever you can, and signal-boost them often, rather than making racial justice about white people (read post)

Calling all white people, part 7: Don’t succumb to hurt feelings
If you turn away from anti-racism efforts or from even just trying to understand race because one (or a few) people of color hurt your feelings, you weren’t really about understanding, about equality or about justice. Don’t be that person. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 8: Mixed-race unions aren’t the ultimate answer
It’s sweet to think that interracial relationships and biracial/multiracial kids will end racism, but here’s why that notion just doesn’t add up. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 9: Seeing and respecting race
It’s easy to dismiss race for a lot of white people (even though they don’t really dismiss it and the attempt to do so is insulting) and it’s easy for a lot of others to fetishize race. Here are some thoughts about avoiding both. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 10: Hating your whiteness won’t help anyone
Feel free to despise white supremacy. Feel free to dismantle white privilege. But self-hate or hatred of whiteness is a counterproductive thing. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 11: Can’t be accountable to everyone
Everyone has different strategies and opinions, and that includes people of color and different anti-racism organizations and movements; being accountable to everyone isn’t possible, though you can at least learn to be humble and receptive to all. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 12: Approaching your apologies
If you have pissed off an entire demographic group/population (or do so at any time in the future), here are some thoughts about how to do the “I’m sorry” thing. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 13: And now for a brief update…
Since I’ve been doing this column a while, maybe it’s finally time to mention what the point of it all is, and why I’m all anonymous-like. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 14: Spaces of their own for POC
There are very valid reason that there are Black-specific, Latinx-specific, LGBTQ-specific, and [insert other group here]-specific gatherings, places and programs, and why that isn’t the same as racist and exclusionary whites-only spaces. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 15: Stop the toxic idealism…a.k.a Pollyanna bullcrap
If you want people of color (or tell them) to stop talking about racial disparities because you think it’s divisive, you need to stop. Or stop people you know from doing it. And here’s why. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 16: Devil’s advocacy deviltry
Defending those who don’t need or deserve defending “for the sake of argument” is pretty often a straight-up dick move, especially where something as important as race relations is involved. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 17: POC are not sex objects
No person of color, Black or otherwise, should be turned into a fetish, nor be used as a relationship tool to make you feel more enlightened. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 18: The mythical beast that is reverse racism
Racism is real; reverse racism is not. And here’s why, in case you haven’t been listening to people of color who have told you all this already. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 19: Get real about what Charlottesville means, and get out of your feelings
Long past time to stop the hand-wringing and the “I can’t believe this is happening” and the online tears. Time to hurt some feelings, get your feelings hurt and begin a real process of confronting truths and changing the system. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 20: Cultural appropriation isn’t some “little” issue and it’s not respectful
Let’s have a talk about how white people, generally speaking, are very quick to use other people’s cultures for their own satisfaction while also denying those same people the space and freedom to practice them themselves. (read post)

Calling all white people, part 21: Look; don’t touch
This applies to a lot more than the head, but can we talk about why manhandling Black women’s hair isn’t a compliment and isn’t cool? Because clearly plenty of white people still need to be educated on this topic. (read post)


If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.

 

Getting perspective on Native Americans, or People are more than their oppression

In recent days, I wrote about the Dakota Access Pipeline and the mistreatment and disrespect shown to Native Americans protesting that pipeline. It was a post that had a bit of anger and grimness to it, which isn’t surprising given how infuriating and demoralizing the situation is as it has grown ever more militaristic against those of Native American/American Indian ancestry.

But it also reminded me, as I wrote about things like the economic struggles on many reservations and the oppression that Native American people experience from the government and from many Americans in general, that people aren’t simply the sum of their sufferings.

Too often, Donald Trump has talked about how “hellish” life is for Black people, describing desperate hardscrabble lives that don’t represent much of Black America. Most Black Americans are law-abiding citizens. Quite a number of them have livable and even middle class and higher incomes (even if they are typically lower than those of comparably experiences white people). Education at the college level is increasingly common. But still, Trump equates Black Americans with the “inner city” and with “poverty.” He doesn’t really acknowledge the state-sponsored oppression Blacks toil under nor the frequent racism they experience from many Americans, and yet at the same time he focuses on them as suffering, desperate people.

Makes one wonder where he thinks their pain comes from.

But the fact is he lumps Black people into a single monolithic mass of folks who have little or no hope, when the fact is they simply have little or no support from America to be treated equally and fairly.

So, I don’t want to leave the impression from my post on the pipeline protest that Native American people are just one mass of people either suffering from poverty or being oppressed on a regular basis. Like Black people, they are whole people, not mere victims. They are active, they are vibrant and they are worthy of respect.

So, I thought I’d share some news that passed my way about a push to highlight Native Americans in the STEM arena. I’ll let the late-August news release from the American Indian Science and Engineering Society speak for itself, though:

Native Americans Featured in New Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math Project

The Natives in STEM project—Changing the Face of Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics

Albuquerque, NM (August 31, 2016)—Today, a new project, Natives in STEM, unveiled a unique resource to encourage Native American youth to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). New posters featuring Native STEM professionals will be distributed to schools and communities across New Mexico and the U.S. A complementary website (www.NativesInSTEM.org) filled with Native STEM professionals’ stories has also launched for students, schools, and communities to use as an educational resource.

“Growing up, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me, didn’t see myself represented, in my science and math textbooks and classroom walls,” said Chelsea Chee, project co-founder and Diversity Coordinator for the New Mexico Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NM EPSCoR), a National Science Foundation-funded program. “I wanted to change that.”

Studies show that students find it difficult to imagine themselves as part of the STEM community if they don’t see people like them represented in related images or learning environments. However, exposure to positive images and success stories can increase a sense of belonging for those not traditionally represented in STEM fields. Images and stories of Native scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians hardly existed for Native people to access, until now!

The first Natives in STEM posters feature two Ph.D. engineers—Stan Atcitty, a Dine’/Navajo man at Sandia National Laboratories and Otakuye Conroy-Ben, an Olgala Lakota woman and professor at Arizona State University. And, www.NativesInSTEM.org has stories from other Native professionals from different tribes and backgrounds. New posters and stories will periodically be added in the future.

natives-in-stem-stan-atcitty_0natives-in-stem-otakuye-conroy-ben_1

“We are excited see a school on a tribal nation with a poster of a Native engineer hanging on the walls for all the students, parents, grandparents, and community to see,” said Lisa Paz, project co-founder and Director of Membership and Communications for the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

About Natives in STEM: Natives in STEM is a joint project of the American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) and New Mexico Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (NM EPSCoR).
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If this piece or this blog resonates with you, please consider a one-time “tip” or become a monthly “patron”…this space runs on love and reader support. Want more BGIM? Consider booking me to speak with your group or organization.