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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