“I have Asian people in my family,” a white co-worker said as we were having a conversation about family and race. I winced a bit—why are you telling me you have Asian people in your family? Is it so I think you’re cool? Is it so you can try and relate what it means to be multicultural? Whatever it is—it’s very uncomfortable.
The four of you sat in front of me—gaslit and arms crossed. Confused and angry white faces—why would you go against the manager and go over her head with your anti-racist letter after the murder of another Black man?
That same coworker who made the racist response about her Asian family members was the same white woman who shared the email with her white manager partner, who then shared it with my other two white managers. All of this done to make white people feel safe, wanted, and heard. But for others…?
They thought I was trying to overthrow some part of the organization—and they’re right—the company is racist and they needed to work on being actively anti-racist. And if I had to be the “divisive” person to call them out for that—then I can be that person.
I then got a call from my other manager—asking me, why am I’m so angry? Why am I taking my anger out on this white man who refuses to accept and acknowledge anything anti-racist? I was dumbfounded and knew at that moment that their white tactics of “I’m sorry you feel that way” of turning stories on their heads or of another white coworker saying, “oh you know people are just trying to work and make money—he’s really a good guy.” This is the same person who is going behind my back to make sure white women feel safe. The gaslighting was incredible and still I somehow came across as the one who was holding the fuel can.
“It’s not good enough to not be racist anymore? You have to be anti-racist? And you know I have two Black adopted daughters.” This was the conversation I had with this white director of this organization after accepting the invitation to speak to him.
You can’t trust white people. As soon as their power and privilege is at stake, they deny anything, tell you you’re the gaslighter, and protect other white people. And a lot of these folx have Black Lives Matter signs in the front of their house, but they’re more dangerous than overt racists. They are the whites who will express support for BLM in the moment but as soon as their power and privilege are messed with—they scurry back to white supremacy and their safe, white neighborhoods.
Politics have never been a personal endeavor for white Americans. Until it directly affects them, they do not care. When it begins to affect their livelihood, white folx immediately back out—even after supporting you in private.
They get to go to their homes in their white neighborhoods and be safe from what they perceive to be people of color being divisive and angry and then advocate for folx based on their personal comfort level.
Reflecting on where I was last year and the past few years—I was around a lot of white people.
A lot of white people I thought were friends and allies.
We know that’s not the truth.
What saddens me is that there is no accountability.
What saddens me is folx have moved on.
What saddens me is the loss of a community.
Instead of people asking how they can help, the focus is on making it a safe space for whites.
Instead of asking how this can be better, the focus is on securing the privilege of white folx.
When it’s calling someone out—they are saying it’s done out of divisiveness instead of love. There is a miscommunication on the part of whites that decides that anytime you call them out, it is hateful and angry—this is white supremacy in action and a way to shift the blame to the person calling them out instead of the one who needs to be held accountable. We’ve seen this tactic a lot, and the reason we have is because it works. Folx who are accountability-holders are usually the ones in the community that are described as “difficult” or “I keep her at arm’s length.” And they are the ones in the community that we should be listening to, believing, supporting, and communing with.
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