Damn the Man

Racism, White People & Ferguson

Photo Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson
Photo Credit: AP/Jeff Roberson

White people like to pretend that racism doesn’t exist anymore.

I was taught, as a child, to not see skin color. We are all the same, I was told. We judge based not on the color of one’s skin, but on the content of their character, ad nauseam. So I tried not to see what was apparent. I constructed a dichotomy in my perception of people; what I saw, and what I was supposed to see. This voluntary blindness blinded me to the truth, that people are different, and people with skin colors other than white have very different experiences of America.

It shames me to say that in my youth, I silenced black people when they tried to talk about being black. I was ignorant. I didn’t believe I was racist; I thought we were equal, and I didn’t want to hear otherwise.

I have several unfinished drafts on my thoughts about Ferguson. It has been on my mind nonstop since Michael Brown’s murder, hence my recent radio silence. Each time I sit down to write about it, I am reminded that my voice is not needed. After all, there have been plenty of white people talking about it, and frankly, I don’t think anyone needs to hear another white person’s thoughts on racism in America.

[Something I don’t get is why white people think they understand more about the experience of being black in America than black Americans do? It reminds me of all the times men try to explain to me what it’s really like to be a woman in America.]

White people like to pretend that racism doesn’t exist for many reasons, chief among them that they don’t want to examine their own racism lurking in their hearts, this American legacy we’ve given ourselves and forced on others.

So I’m going to leave those drafts unpublished, because I want to listen. I am heartbroken, and I too desire change, but this is not about me. So I am going to listen, and try to be a good friend and ally even though I’m sure I fuck it up daily in spite of my good intentions.

To my fellow white Americans: stop making this about you. Stop the #notallwhitepeople and “but I have black friends!” and #notallpoliceofficers shit. Stop the victim-blaming and justifications, the distractions and misdirection. Be okay with being uncomfortable–that’s how we learn. There is a problem here, whether you want to see it or not. A boy was murdered by the police, and people are justifiably enraged.

Let’s listen.

Instead of my thoughts on the subject, read these writings on racism and Ferguson.

“I Don’t Know How to Talk to White People About Ferguson”

“Discussing Race and Racism with Your Black Friends: Dos & Don’ts”

“America is Not for Black People”

Things to Stop Being Distracted By When a Black Person Gets Murdered By The Police”

“White Fear: The Single Greatest Killer of Black People in the US”

“In Defense of Black Rage: Michael Brown, Police and the American Dream”

“White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy”

“Dear White Ladies”



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