Friendly Allies vs. Unchecked Foes
The Pacific Northwest is really white. How white? Well…..
Having lived in this sea of whiteness the majority of my life, I’ve had to face many battles with white supremacy. Being called “nigger” by a white relative, people avoiding elevator rides or sitting next to me on the bus, hair touching, work place discrimination, and all the microagressions in between. I also have to deal with a great deal of closeted racism that has gone unchecked due to the lack of non-whites the white folks here interact with. I don’t know. It might not be a regional thing. But it sure feels like it sometimes. I don’t know how else to explain it.
Twice in the last month I found myself having back and forth discussions about race with a white man. A white man who I know from the NW hip-hop community. During both encounters he attempted to whitesplain away my comments. The first interaction rubbed me wrong, but I shrugged it off thinking maybe I was just having a bad day. (I hate how we do that) But the second interaction solidified his stance. He was set on dismissing everything I said and accusing me of basically making up the issue at hand; this time the fetishizing of mixed babies. By the end of the conversation I was tired, my work day had just ended, and I told him I didn’t want to be responsible for educating racist white people. To which he responded with comical disbelief.
And I can only blame him so much for that. A white boy surrounded by Black culture can feel somewhat above racism if his Black friends allow him to. He’s probably never been called out on his racism because he’s “the homie” and viewed in a more forgiving light. Someone who participates in our culture like that can’t possibly be akin to Donald Trump and cousin-loving rednecks, right?
Here in the PNW we all know those white people. The ones who were the only white kid in the only predominately Black school. The ones who adopt Black children. The ones who actually do carry hot sauce in their bag and date Black people exclusively. How could they possibly be racist? Just look at all their Black friends and relatives. In this overwhelming sea of whiteness, they chose to surround themselves with Black folks. They get credit for at least that, right?
Honestly, I feel like those are the worst. Those who hide in plain sight. Those who use their Black children and friends and music preferences as a bulletproof vest to criticism. They are not above getting read simply because they’re down with the Blacks. In fact, their proximity to Blackness means they should be held to an even higher standard. We should be more critical of those who walk among us. Dealing with racism from a stranger is one thing, but when you’re face to face with racist ideology spewing from someone you know it’s like getting the air sucked out of you. Like, whoa, aren’t you supposed to be on my side?
Be wary my friends. Don’t let anyone; white, Black or other get away with even the smallest racist BS. Don’t be afraid to call them out. Don’t shrug it off. Don’t make their comfort more important than your own. If you call them out, only good things can happen. They either correct their behavior, or they exit your life. I have white friends who I call out when they slip up and they learn and grow. I also HAD white friends who couldn’t handle it who had to disappear from my world. That’s life. You can take this and apply it to your male friends (misogyny), your cis friends (transphobia), your straight friends (homophobia) or whatever system you’re battling against.
And to the white people reading this, here’s a tip: Don’t argue with Black people on the topic of race and racism. Even if you’re sure in your heart of hearts that they are wrong, you better shut up and let another Black person check them on it. Your need to do the correcting probably comes from the white supremacist ideas that linger in your head.