On Being A Little Tired Of Being The “Safe Black Friend You Talk To About Race” » VSB

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On Being A Little Tired Of Being The “Safe Black Friend You Talk To About Race”

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I was a junior in high school when a teacher came over to a group of us at lunch looking for one of our classmates. With four grades of students capped at no more than 100 each, we were a small school of folks who knew each other by name. In the liberal granola-crusted feel-goodism of my costly rep school, students had rotating assignments to help clean up after lunch. I’d hazard a guess that amongst the mostly-monied student populace, many weren’t required to clean up much of anything at home, as evidenced by the trash that littered the tables at the end of the Upper School lunch period. The faculty saw it fitting to impart some home training.

In any case, on this one particular afternoon, Keenan was on duty with the rest of his team, but was nowhere to be found in the present moment. One of the math teachers came to us (for the third time in as many weeks) asking us his whereabouts.

We don’t know,” we said in exasperation. “He doesn’t usually sit here. We keep telling you that.”

Well, I’m not wrong for looking for a Black student at the Black table!” she said in a huff.

What did you just say?” one of us said. She repeated herself.

The Black Table?’ Are those White Tables?,” we said, pointing at any able that wasn’t ours.

The next response failed to answer our question and was knee-jerk and predictable. “I’m not a racist!” We pointed out that we never called her one, but she repeated her refrain with more and more defiance, damn-near arguing with us. Once she noticed the loss of control of her own emotions, she walked away from the table with a flag of the hand, thereby ending the exchange entirely.

We were 16 years old then, navigating an uncomfortable conversation about race with someone at least 30 years our senior; students suddenly becoming teachers; children becoming adults. Depending on where life takes a person and how early he or she is reminded that they are outsiders, one understands the elements of critical race theory easily and becomes skillful with — if not grateful for — the role it plays in managing boundaries and personal wellness. Obviously, I knew what racism was then, but to get to college and learn that the things I witnessed or experienced had names like “White privilege” or “microaggressions” brought some relief that (1) I wasn’t crazy; and (2) I wasn’t alone.

In the last three weeks, I’ve been having conversations with White people. This, in and of itself is not unusual given all the places I’ve gone to school. But the older I get, the Blacker the life is I seem to live. So when I hear from a bunch of White folks in succession, it’s an event. Yes, I keep in contact with my folks from yesteryear thanks to Facebook, and I scroll through their lives on Instagram, but it’s sometimes like looking through a pane of glass. This didn’t happen on purpose. I don’t think any of us meant to un-know each other. But life happens, I guess, and here we are.

The last time I’ve heard from this many of my White friends en masse is when George Zimmerman was on trial for the murder of Trayvon Martin. In both instances, I’ve wondered if I’ve become “The Black Friend.” Or maybe I’m the window in that pane of glass, a safe space where good intentioned White folks can ask questions or think through the first-drafts of their thoughts on race and structural inequality. Sometimes, when they get to the part about acknowledging that privilege, that tiny window feels like a confessional as if they want a pardon or an absolution for something.

In each of these conversations with “my White friends” — and yes, I offer no pretense about the fact I can count number of White friends I have on hands at this point — there’s an indelible blind spot that make the conversations painful for me. It carries the stench of an epiphany about a reality I’ve lived for years; the pushiness of a newfound urgency to have a conversation that so many of us already too well-versed in. Some wont-to-be-praised Herculean desire to see the world change because they suddenly see that it needs to be, a scream for a pat on the head for self-identifying as a “stupid White person,” pity-hungry measure of self-deprecation. (Which, by the way, no one is asking for.)

I’m applaud them for their honestly about what they don’t know; I am happy for their awakenings because I deplore silence in times like these. Everyone should be affected; everyone should be outraged, and I am thankful that I haven’t had to unfriend anyone on Facebook this go ‘round. But some part of me grows tired of playing teacher and racial chaplain. Tired of sifting through the regrets of folks who admit not understanding sooner, as if being on the receiving end of societal prejudice that’s so eluded them isn’t exhausting enough. “Talk to other White people,” I’ve suggested. “I’m not the one who needs to hear this.”

It’s both perfectly true, and perfectly the way to push the conversation elsewhere where it will become useful. In turn, I’ve seen White folks initiating public debates amongst themselves about race and media representation on Facebook and Twitter; I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed. Frankly, I’ve been too angry lately to have productive conversation with anyone who doesn’t immediately “get it.”

In my frustration with some of these unsolicited teachable moments, I think back to the “blonde co-ed” Malcolm X references in his autobiography. He mentions his regret that he turned her away so cooly after she asked what White people can do to help Black folks in their fight for social justice. While “ally” and “privilege” dot the conversation of every armchair public intellectual, there are people whose eyes are opening for the first time and I remind myself that America is dependent on white racial naiveté. I encourage the folks that come to me to follow the thing that seems to uncomfortable and to send it out where it needs to be, instead of coming to black folks for a rub on the back.

I get that sometimes folks just need an ear, so I listen and say little. I remind them that much of the things I know about race, I know because I lived them, not because I’m necessarily any more or less perceptive than anyone else. And the rest, the ways I’ve learned critical race theory and to have these conversations, I learned in a book — books that are available to us all. I’ve started to give out some recommendations, the race-work equivalent of penance, in hopes that we might all one day reach the Promised Land.

Maya Francis

Maya K. Francis is a culture writer and communications strategy consultant. When not holding down the Black Girl Beat for VSB, she is a weekly columnist for Philadelphia Magazine's "The Philly Post" and contributes to other digital publications including xoJane, Esquire, and EBONY.com. Sometimes TV and radio producers are crazy enough to let her talk on-air, and she helped write a book once. She cites her mother and Whitley Gilbert as inspirations.

  • nillalatte

    “to the “blonde co-ed” Malcolm X references in his autobiography. He
    mentions his regret that he turned her away so cooly after she asked
    what White people can do to help Black folks in their fight for social
    justice”

    Interestingly, many folks forget this fact often – the fact, that without white people who cared about human suffering itself, there would not be much racial/social progression in America. Yes, it is important that white folks share when they can to help other whites recognize and consider their behavior based solely on skin color.

    But, let me turn now to behavior that I’ve observed lately here in the comments. I’ve witnessed language that has just been appalling. Some folks here actually surprised the shyt out of me with their hate filled posts and rhetoric about white people. Then I went on FB and saw the same type of language and actually read a post from two black men as they discussed a race war and how this one black man was prepared to kill many whites. The other black guy (a marine) stated his wife was white and his kids biracial. They actually discussed how they would be going against each other in a race war.

    Some posts here over the past couple weeks, reminded me of the time I spent in Arabic/Islamic chat rooms as I studied Arabic and Islam from early 2000 to around August of 2001. I chatted with many Arabs, many extremists. They were ‘okay’ with me. I was nice they said. But, they readily admitted I was a target, I was American and I would be killed if they could reach me. I wasn’t concerned, not until my computer started pinging itself to life, being taken over remotely, and new and interesting federal friends.

    In May 2001, someone posted a very real and credible threat. I ignored it. Oh, they are just spouting off, they couldn’t possibly I rationalized. But, they did. Then it was 9/11.

    Yes, there are many things we, as a people, human people, need to help change in the American society. But, I’m concerned there are many extremists among us, the same type of extremists that killed Malcolm X, John F. Kennedy, Dr. MKL Jr., and 3,000 people on 9.11.

    It has concerned me greatly the way things have been presented lately, like a lot (not specifically talking about this piece Maya). I think VSB is a pretty influential blog with a pretty good reach in the Black community. The tone of some of the more recent posts, and comments, have been disturbing.

    • I still love you Nilla

      • nillalatte

        Love me some men that know raw & just virtually hug me. :) Thanks Tristan.

    • Aly

      Which posts/comments have been “disturbing”?

      • Nandie

        Took the words out of my mouth. I was wondering that myself.

      • nillalatte

        Its a culmination Aly. I decline to call out specific people. No more fuel for the fire as it were.

    • I can see how the Black marine willing to kill their White wife in a race war would be disturbing to you. That seems a bit…strange. Still, I think a lot of Black folk are both hurt and tired of getting their feelings ignored. Meanwhile, a lot of White America is crying that their feelings are ignored too…all while ignoring the feelings of Black people. Maybe if they showed some empathy, they’d get some in return.

      • Lol, I think Paul Mooney made a joke about that, awhile back.

        To me, I don’t really want white people to take black feelings into consideration – that encourages a little condescension, and regardless of what people say empathy/sympathy pretty much end up with both at the end. I want white folks to support black folks, because it’s in their self-interest to do so. I got into an argument with some white chick over some shooting in St. Louis, and she brought up the example of a white guy named Dillon Taylor being shot by a black cop who was being protected, and how the media wasn’t covering it, because the kid was white. Which immediately told me two things A. She was a Republican and B. she associates Black = Democrat, so she feels the need to refute black people anytime a black cause comes about (which is why there have been so many black conservatives in the News recently).

        If she had been like, look these cops are out of control, even black cops are killing white people and sh*t ain’t happening to them, I would have been like “Hmmm enemy of my enemy is my friend”, but she wanted to turn this into some form of media brainwashing blah blah, which just ended the conversation, since I wasn’t interested in having a debate about media favoritism in terms of covering sensational stories as a form of oppression. The basic law of persuasion is you have to make the people you wish to persuade believe that you share similar interests, and not that your interests are superior to their own.

        • Wild Cougar

          Really. We’ve got to stop the focus on how people feel about us. To be honest, IDGAF. Hate me all day all night but just don’t get in the way of me getting mine and we won’t have a problem.

          • IcePrincess

            That’s my motto in life in general.

        • LMNOP

          I had this exact same argument on fb with some random white lady I don’t even know lol, she was like “well, this one unarmed white kid was killed by a black cop. Are you okay with that?”

        • flclimax

          Tell all the white people far and wide, Taylor was killed by a white cop according to every witness.

      • “I can see how the Black marine willing to kill their White wife in a race war would be disturbing to you”

        I think I remember reading something from Amiri Baraka where a similar scenario took place.

        • Heck, Amiri Baraka abandoned his own half-White kids during the Black Power movement to prove a point. I get not wanting to mess with your wife anymore, but your KIDS? Miss me with that.

          • Yeah, he pretty much placed himself in the piece of fiction if I remember correctly. In the work I think he killed his kids too.

      • nillalatte

        Todd, it wasn’t the Black marine willing to kill his wife. It was two Black men fighting each other (verbally on FB) with the marine flatly stating he’d have to kill the other Black man defending his white wife and biracial children.

        Whether you guys believe it or not, I get where a lot of you are coming from. What I don’t get is attempted instigation of violence. Violence got us to this place and we’re not going to escape it with violence. Blessed are the peacemakers for they must surely be fools.

    • MR_415

      If these comments disturbed you check out the comments thats race related on CNN, Yahoo, and if you really want to go on the deep end of the internet read the comments on Infowars.

      • nillalatte

        Oh, I’ve read them. However, I’ve come to expect a higher level of cognitive & self deliberation from folks here.

        • Freebird

          the fact that you feel this way about this space and that you feel comfortable contributing in the way you have – in a predominantly black space – says a lot about the folks who run this site and the folks who post here most often. the fact that you expect MORE from this place than, say, the major newspaper comments section is telling. you expect for this space to be a safe space for you. overall i would bet it has been that for you.

          and now i ask you: can you lead me to a similar online space – a space primarily for white men/ folk were the tone is remotely similar and welcoming?

          • nillalatte

            No, I can’t Freebird, because I don’t frequent ‘white’ blogs. In fact, my online interactions are quite limited, and there are reasons for that. I’ve explored the net for a long time and I’ve picked up friends here and there over the years. It has everything to do with similar like minds. But, because of my experiences, too, I am cautious about who I call ‘friend.’

            LOL… I remember my ex asking me when the feds got involved as I spoke of my original post, “Why you want to put your friends in trouble?” Extremists are not my friends and they come in many packages.

            I ‘get’ that VSB is predominately Black and so have been most of the people in my life for a very long time. It’s not an uncomfortable feeling to share my opinion/observations. It does get a bit interesting, however, how my opinion is sometimes received based on my skin color (i.e. white mentality) and not my communication. So, to think that I don’t understand what a lot of black folk feel, how they are perceived, their struggles, is just not reality.

    • LMNOP

      I care a lot about how people feel, and go out of my way to try to be kind and thoughtful, BUT

      Black people’s LIVES trump White people’s feelings.

      This isn’t about a mean word hurled here and there, this is about profound and dangerous injustice in our society, and a disturbing amount of people (many of them white, incidentally) acting like some lives matter more than others.

      Nice white people have certainly played a role in affecting (effecting?) social change and progress in America, but I really think that righteous anger has been the catalyst for most changes. Righteous anger at the mistreatment of human beings. This is a feeling that comes from your soul, and you can feel it no matter what color your skin is, but sometimes it’s not polite, and it’s not pretty. But it is necessary.

      • The thing is that I think White people aren’t even aware of how much a Black person’s existence threatens them. The majority of people think that Black people live the same lives as them, as in eat the same food, listen to the same music, party the same way, etc., that when it comes out that Hey, we colored folk is different, it scares the crap out of people. More than a few White people take that difference as an existential threat. It doesn’t mean it’s right, but I can’t pretend that it doesn’t exist.

        Talking to actual cops has made me realize that they look at a Black kid walking down the street as someone who is going to kill their existence because they’re different. Now the reality is different, as more White people are kill by Black people than the other way around. If you’re armed and paid a salary to stop threats, only an idiot would pretend that someone’s biases don’t come into play. Like I mentioned on FB, imagine a bunch of Black people from the hood hired to be cops in some White suburb, and have them come up on a bunch of punk rock kids with chains and leather that they’ve never seen before. Do you think that’s going to end well?

        • Michelle

          Your comment reminds me of the situation that occurred in Forney, Texas where officers pulled over a car that occupied with a mom, her two kids and two god children. On the recorded dash camera, there is an exchange between the officers. One cop questions whether or not the children looked “young enough”.
          They were responding to a call about four Black men in a tan colored vehicle because one of the men was brandishing a gun. This woman was in a BURGUNDY car with four children, the oldest child being ten years old.

          • $20 tells me one of those kids were tall, and they were thinking THREAT!!! Remember, cops look at 10 year old Black boys as adults. Maybe they thought they were going to f*ck his wife and render him a cuckold or something. ;-)

        • It’s all really just a set-up.

          It’s just like the movie “the Hurt Locker” where you put one group of people in charge of regulating the lives of others, despite the fact that they can barely speak the language, and don’t know anything about the community. Thus they end up being trigger happy and trying to intimidate people from doing anything, because they never know where that hit is coming from. It’s the equivalent of putting a whole bunch of black cops in charge of a community where that’s the HQ for the KKK.

          I know there are police departments that are banned from hiring cops that aren’t part of the community, but I do think some investment or familiarity with the community is needed if you’re going to actually serve and protect the people in any community. Anything else comes off as an occupation, which will eventually lead to hostility from members in the community.

          • Your first paragraph mirrors something I read a few days ago. And in the situation you mentioned, any young White kid who doesn’t either step and fetch or look like a reject from an Eminem lookalike contest is going to have a gun pointed in their face at minimum.

            Also, I’ve heard about another weird dynamic about suburban police forces (at least in the NYC Tri-State Area) that leads to occupational type issues. The suburban polices forces, like Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester, etc., have major patronage issues when it comes to getting on the force. The only way to get in without having a hook-up is to have a certain amount of experience on a police force. Three guesses where those cops go. :) So now you have cops who are either booking time before they can leave or are bitter they can’t patrol their own areas. Gee, I wonder what problems that would cause. LOL

            • And that to me is the problem.

              See, I don’t believe that racism will ever not exist, as in discriminating people based on their skin color; and I think anyone who accepts tribalism, but rejects racism in that regard is nothing more than a hypocrite, since the only difference between the two is the concept of the nation-state. However, I do believe that communities should not have to submit to bureaucracies, whose foundation of existence is the tax payers they supposedly police over. It’s utter BS.

              Bureaucracies have no loyalties, and ooze of corruption that not even Wall Street can compete with, since they don’t have to make anyone money,they just have to make documents look right and act as though they are following procedures and protocols (which most people who have worked at government agencies know doesn’t occur – data falsification is the norm). So it shouldn’t be no surprise that you have these whole bunch of racist, bitter, trigger happy cops, working on streets that they would never walk on as mere citizens.

              • I also think the structure of police forces is but a form of welfare-for-White-people, particularly working-class Whites. Notice that it’s not the well-educated Whites who end up cops. It’s the working-a-day schmoe for whom it was either become a cop or go to trade school to become a mechanic. They aren’t doing much better than the poor Black and Latin kids they harass, and they’re probably what-and-what with middle-class Blacks, keeping it 100. However, the badge gives them a cushy job, better benefits and a chance for their kids to do better than they did. The upshot is that they’ll be trained to think their benefits are justified while the chump change in food stamps given to LaQuiesha is illegitimate, all while the people in power make sure there’s more White people held down to create the next class of cops.

                • Well, the concept of welfare is getting money without providing value to the economy (your existence is valuable enough apparently), so it’s fair that most bureaucratic institutions that don’t serve the “direct” needs of the people aren’t controlled by the people are in fact just another form of government welfare. It’s just propaganda that makes it sound like it’s an honorable profession at this point.

                  All the job gives them is phony power, and phony power is always self-evident when you see it, kind of like in TSA cops. Losers are the people who are attracted to phony power, because it’s power you attain through kissing up and obedience, rather than the power you gain from providing services of value that people offer you incentives for i.e. money, leadership positions, awards etc, and because you didn’t earn that phony power, you live in a constant loop of fear, since you know it can be easily taken away from you, which leads you to be a jerk to those beneath you and nervous of those above you…like middle class blacks.

        • Maya K. Francis

          I’m not saying some folks don’t believe this, but I am struggling to absorb the idea that difference is inherently bad and therefore inherently threatening. It’s the reach of all reaches.

          • People believe this all the time, and in contexts that have nothing to do with anything racial (or gendered or sexual orientation or religion). Maybe I’m just an embittered cynic, but that mess doesn’t shock me in the slightest.

            • Maya K. Francis

              I get it in the big-picture way. That black people/women/LGBTQ folks existing, and especially if they’re happy and thriving are a threat to “the establishment.” But that folks feel this so innately when a black kid is walking down the street minding his own business is frightening.

              • PhlyyPhree

                I think it’s frightening because we see the black “kid” and we can’t figure out why others dont. Looking at that child walking down the street, we see Kid>black, where others will see Black> THEEEEENNNNN MAAYYYBEEE kid.

                • Maya K. Francis

                  That’s a good point.

      • nillalatte

        Ain’t nobody said white people’s feelings trumps black people’s lives. Thing is LMNOP, this anger is myopic. How can you have righteous anger about the mistreatment of one group and not another? Yet, everyone does this. It’s great to have anger as long as it is channeled in positive and productive outcomes. It’s the difference between being a terrorist and being an activist.

        • LMNOP

          Well, when one group of people are being systematically mistreated, you have righteous anger about that. It isn’t limited though. For example, you can be angry about racism in the US and ISIS’s actions at the same dam time.

          • nillalatte

            “one group of people are being systematically mistreated”

            Isn’t that ALWAYS the issue? Isn’t that why America has discrimination laws? Do they always work? No. But, when they don’t there is recourse. There is not always justice for the injustices, and there may never be. Does that mean we should stop fighting the good fight? No.

    • PhlyyPhree

      “But, let me turn now to behavior that I’ve observed lately here in the comments. I’ve witnessed language that has just been appalling. Some folks here actually surprised the shyt out of me with their hate filled posts and rhetoric about white people”

      I wouldn’t dare try to speak for anyone else, but I will hazard a guess and say that most of the hate filled posts and rhetoric is a culmination of frustration and anger. I’m not excusing that because it is a very slippery slope from being justifiably angry to being unreasonably hateful, but in some cases when I see those posts, I see it as necessary venting in a safe space. I agree with you and am not in any way trying to trivialize your reply, especially since as you’ve said, you witnessed some extremist talk when visiting the Arabic/Islamic sites. In my opinion some of the posts I’ve seen over the past few weeks are because emotions are high and finally it feels like we get a chance to air out these grievances and be heard.

      • nillalatte

        Thanks PhlyyPhree. Airing out grievances and being heard I COMPLETELY understand, and am, myself, guilty. It has been more than that recently which is why that switched flipped in my mind. Appreciate your approach. :)

    • Wild Cougar

      I hear you, but if it’s a race war, it is because our right to exist is being denied, not because we are expressing our righteous anger about it. If after the civil rights movement and the election of a black president, we still can’t walk down the street without being threatened by the state, don’t ask us to go back to the same system that screwed us last time. Doing so would be…..the definition of insanity. Don’t burden me with your need for peaceful language. It is another form of oppression, maintaining the status quo and white people comfortable. I am increasingly convinced that the white supremacy structure will only bend to give us a few drips of humanity when they are afraid of getting their justice. When they fear the violence they’ve spread over the world starts being aimed at them, that is when they change. It wasn’t MLK non violence that changed them, it was MLK non violence as an alternative to Malcom X. So listen closely to your fear. Is it fear of true raw justice based on generations of brutality? Should the brutalized be peaceful because their anger makes the beneficiaries of white supremacy scared and uncomfortable? Fcuk no.

      • nillalatte

        WC, these things are not making me ‘uncomfortable’, but they do make me reconsider my association with certain individuals and groups based on, do they actually think logically and strategically or are they using events as leverage to incite irrational thoughts to action?

        I think even the consideration of a race war in America is just beyond ridiculous. WHO in this nation is pure anything? How will you choose? Okay, white skin, a little darker, but still white. Brown tanned, but still white. Oh, hell, anyone that we can cut and they bleed? Will that satisfy the thirst?

        My ‘fear’ WC? You have misinterpreted concern as fear. That’s a mistake. Stay on your soapbox and keep yelling at the top of your lungs. Who will listen? Only those with extremist elements within their soul.

        As to your language, it’s easy to be a keyboard warrior. It’s harder to actually do the work to bring folks to common interests.

        • Wild Cougar

          You don’t know me, so don’t try to assume what I do or don’t do in the real world. Believe this, I am much more than a keyboard warrior and I have much more than a soapbox. I am only speaking the same words many others have come to realize and are speaking with me. Nobody is tolerating tone policing from the privileged anymore, so you can knock, but you’re not getting in.

          • nillalatte

            You ain’t know me either. You can be militant all you want sitting at your keyboard and spit vile verbiage. That makes you no better than any white supremacist (who are pretty ignorant in their own right). It’s the SAME mentality. The only time extremists get like that is when they DON’T have the faculty to employ better solutions.

            LOL.. knocking? Keep your day job. Comedy is not your strength.

            • Wild Cougar

              I’m gonna do you the favor of warning you one time and one time only. Don’t come for me swinging unless you’re ready to fight.

              • nillalatte

                I ain’t scurred of you or any other militant. You really have my mentality bumped, hard. Reply back if you must, but I think we’ve come to the end of the conversation. As one of my Black girlfriends told a cousin of her’s… don’t let the white girl fool you.

                Have a wonderful day.

                • Wild Cougar

                  This right here is a very good example of what I was talking about. You’ll have what you believe to be “cool” white people who get hostile when you’re not docile anymore and stand up for yourself. I knew the real deal would come out eventually. Just a matter of tme

    • Freebird

      i hear what you are saying. here’s the thing and i say it to my friends all the time and every discussion about race probably should start here: black people have never threatened the americas in mass, even with real reason to do so. i will also say that from nathaniel bacon to john brown to eleanor roosevelt to time wise black folks have held aloft its white allies as well.

      when black folks talk about fear and frustration over america those frustrations are linked to a real experience in a historically hostile society. a society that through our measurable but often over looked contribution to it should feel more like home.

      what you felt during 911 my mother felt watching klansmen – homegrown terrorist – parade down her street as a child. i am not yet forty and i should not have a mother with these memories. its what i feel getting stopped (doing nothing but being free) by a gun toting highway patrol or what my friend feels transporting his son and daughters when cops follow his minivan. the threat that many white americans feel about some foreign terrorist threat or some threat on an urban street that may never come, is what many of us feel – as a result of something domestic and most certainly homemade – that has time and time again beaten us over the head. that threat has been consistent and unrelenting. truth is white folks fear of black people is unwarranted. and a bit disingenuous and more than a bit cowardly. yet despite this the onus to deal with this “fear” has been put on the shoulders of black folks. you are kind of doing it here right now.

      connecting this to current events: it is somehow my job to make a coward with a gun and uniform, and with the backing of the worlds most powerful government and a gang full of equally armed brothers and sisters feel more comfortable about my singular existence. and what you are hearing is folks real anger and rage over this.

      • nillalatte

        No, Freebird. What I have read (not just at VSB, but across the net) is very similar to that time back when a group of extremists were plotting 9/11, and I was, admittedly, very naive.

        Yes, I know some white folks have an ingrained fear of black folks, and I’ve asked them why? Where do you think that comes from? These are the types of questions I think folks should ask themselves and address.

        Ironically, this phenomena does not ONLY occur with white to black. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been asked questions about my ex’s culture, religion, family, how he felt about whatever as if HE was a representative of all Arab people (God, how wrong could some be to think THAT!). I’m sure you know there are landmines in presentation of facts. The objective, however, is to find the commonalities of the HUMAN race and build from there.

        Again, what I’ve expressed is not fear and I’m not dumping on anyone in particular to shoulder any responsibility. I am sharing my observations and my experiences with highly sensitive issues and expressing my concerns – for what it’s worth. It didn’t change anything in 2001 and I doubt it will now.

        • Freebird

          i think i understand. i appreciate you sharing.

        • “The objective, however, is to find the commonalities of the HUMAN race and build from there.”
          That would, unfortunately, require everyone to believe every person is equally human. This isn’t happening right now. This is the source of our frustration.

          • nillalatte

            It’s a source of all humanities frustration.

    • Natalie Degraffinried

      I think people who don’t have to deal with these things have gotten far, far too used to having a comfort zone in the face of events like the ones that have been happening recently. While I don’t necessarily condone threatening anyone, I also don’t condone anything that even remotely smacks of “wait, your anger is making me uncomfortable”–it happens too often and lends itself to outside parties dictating what is and is not acceptable in a safe space.

      I’d maybe be more sympathetic if not for the fact that the most issues of race these days come from overreactions/misjudgments of black people’s feelings and actions (often as violence). The vast majority of Americans–regardless of race–have some implicit prejudice against black people that they don’t (often can’t) even consciously check. It’s difficult and frustrating in itself to read something that’s essentially saying, “Guys, things aren’t as friendly as usual–you’re kind of scaring me.”

      Honestly, most people need to feel disturbed sometimes. In my personal journey to learn about other people’s experiences, that discomfort has been invaluable. Comfort in the face of these things is a privilege, and I don’t see the point of bullshitting around other people’s realities or expecting them to step out of their reality to enhance yours. If people really want to learn, they’ll do it even if the lesson isn’t wrapped in a neat, polite package. And in the cases where the entire point is, “hey, I don’t always have the energy to relive trauma and teach you,” like this post, it’s important to realize that people sometimes need a safe space to work out their feelings–their REAL, raw feelings.

    • You know…I don’t read every comment, but I’ve read the posts and I really believe it’s a “perception” issue. Because I haven’t read one post about “white people”. I even went back just to make sure I wasn’t clouded by my own feelings on the issue, but all I see is “we’re mad at this (happens to be)White PERSON that did this bad thing and looks like they will get away with it, and all the (happen to be) White people that are currently co-signing this deplorable behavior..”
      ..and f*k Don Lemon.
      Maybe we have a different definition of “hate”. Because all I’m reading is “frustration”. If I wanted to see “hate”, I have the link to DW’s gofundme page, or I could browse Shaun King’s mentions on Twitter (do you know they are currently using his children’s pictures for “KillAN**r” memes? Nauseating). Unfortunately, we don’t HAVE a voice outside of our own spaces. We don’t HAVE safe spaces outside of the ones we make ourselves. So what I’m going to have to ask of you is a modicum of some of the patience that we have to have every day. Let us vent. It will return to normal, but right now we are HURT. Not angry, not militant, not threatening…HURT. We have to heal. And unfortunately it’s not always going to be pretty.

  • kid video

    Soooo…how bout those VMA’s?

    • IcePrincess

      Ikr?! I just knew panama was gonna have us a recap. Oh well, maybe this afternoon *sigh*

      • panamajackson

        There is absolutely nothing to say about the VMAs short of, Beyonce came, she saw, she conquered. And the moments with Blue Ivy were adorbs. I actually forgot (and tweeted about it) that the her performance was part of the VMAs and just thought it was a Bey concert. Nothing else that happened before it mattered.

    • Rachmo

      All I remember is the Beyonce concert.

      • Aly

        Blue Ivy was adorable!

        • Rachmo

          I may or may not have teared up when they came up to give her the award.

          • Aly

            Mmhmm, me too. Bey looked so happy!

          • PhlyyPhree

            My moderated reply (AHEM) definitely notes the tear I couldn’t hold

          • panamajackson

            That was adorbs.

        • PhlyyPhree

          SOOOO adorable….looking JUST like her daddy. Lol. DId you see the clip of her turning up when Flawless started playing? I feel the same way when the song comes on Blue. Same. Way.

          • Aly

            Omg, yes!! Her face, and then Jay’s face, and then her face! I can’t stand the cuteness!

          • KKay

            Blue is definitely Jay’s mini-me.

        • Val
        • PunchDrunkLove

          I gotta admit, she was a cutie patootie

      • PhlyyPhree

        I don’t consider myself a stan….
        ….
        But Beyonce Knowles-Carter is pretty much everything I want to be in life. I legitimately had to hold a tear in when Jay and Blue came on stage to present her with the award. I respect the hell out of her, because I KNOW that life isn’t easy. But at that moment, to be recognized in a room full of peers, in front of basically the world for your life’s hard work with your “beloved” and your child by your side?
        Black excellence and I don’t really care to hear any differing opinions.

    • nillalatte

      LOL… comic relief. I see what you did. :D

  • This post is timely because just yesterday I had to tell a homegirl she needed to cut her ask a negro moments down to a minimum. We’ve had discussions on everything under the sun over the years but since Ferguson her questions didn’t feel conversational it felt more like an interview and i politely told her that she doesn’t need my cosign to be outraged or even not moved by a racially charged issue.

    • Rachmo

      “This post is timely because just yesterday I had to tell a homegirl she needed to cut her ask a negro moments down to a minimum.”- WELP

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      You’ve been on a roll lately with cutting people down to size

  • The first thing I think of with these posts is that every Black person in America is ignorant about something, key word being IGNORANT. For example, in my case, as a straight guy, I have zero clue what it’s like to be a gay guy, and doubly so for being a lesbian. There are certain things I need to shut up and listen about, and certain questions I need to ask. Granted, some people are a$$holes, but that’s some of every group. Being a jerk has the best diversity program in the world. :)

    If someone is of good will, I answer questions. Granted, there are the a$$holes and people looking to score racial points. However, every non-Black person who is down is the product of someone talking to them about their experience, case closed. It doesn’t hurt to talk about your lived experience. And besides, they might teach you something you didn’t know during the process.

    In my case, I went to HS with a lot of White kids who became cops. As you can guess, since the whole Michael Brown incident went down, a lot of the things I’ve shared have become the subject of heated conversation. One of the things I’ve learned is how scared the average cop is of Black people. Mind you, these were people who went to high school with me, in one case sitting next to me in a bunch of classes. That said, they all said that they were scared $hitless of a crowd of Black people because they ran into one Black person that decided to let off shots. In other words, we are really being judged by the actions of the bigger Black fool.

    Damn.

    That said, it is a bracing corrective and a starting point. Perhaps we can train cops to deal with the fact that Black people are a diverse group of humans. Perhaps we should just select out the people who don’t see Black people as humans from the cop application pool. But I now know the scoop, and can incorporate that into my daily existence. It won’t make me safe, but it will give me some understanding as to what they do.

    • Maya K. Francis

      Agree.

      I think, in some ways, what’s taxing is having this same conversation within a very short time frame, on top of trying to process what’s going on in the news, on top of processing whatever regular ole Oh hey, it’s a Wednesday! racism du jour I’m dealing with personally. And admittedly, as I get older, my patience for the conversation has diminished. I’ve gone to very white schools all my life; I’ve had some variant of this conversation since I was like 12. So I totally get, and am here for, folks wanting understandings, but what I’ve been on the receiving end of lately is less conversation, and more stream of consciousness brain dumps.

      I always say, white folks are not race-free, and the burden of race should not put shouldered squarely on POC, and more than women should shoulder gender equality alone. White folks don’t need to wait for black and brown folks to walk in a room to have these conversations. This is something I’ve stressed to people who have come to me… resulting in lots of very interesting exchanges within their social circles via their social media threads, which is a good thing.

      • PhlyyPhree

        “what’s taxing is having this same conversation within a very short time frame, on top of trying to process what’s going on in the news, on top of processing whatever regular ole Oh hey, it’s a Wednesday! racism du jour I’m dealing with personally”

        This.
        While I want the conversations to happen, I don’t always want to be the facilitator of said discussions or the panel expert.

    • Neptunes presents The Clones

      Todd going andre the giant,phew

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      Great statement. We can’t get mad that people don’t know something when truthfully we are ignorant of many things ourselves and need someone to school us as well.

  • Afro punk was awesome.

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      I was too busy getting wasted all weekend. How was D’Angelo?

      • Hour fucking late. Was fucking amazing. Didn’t play any of his sensual songs. But I got to play in these woman’s hair so I is happy.

        • Neptunes presents The Clones

          Good man

        • sugahoneyicedtea

          Not to sound like a creeper, but I love when play in my hair when it’s braided. Full on fro, your hands will get stuck.

          • I got you though

            • sugahoneyicedtea

              You the bestest babe.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          I loved all the nappy hair I saw last year, its like a natural hair lovers wet dream. I’m just mad I missed him

  • Rachmo

    Soooo tired.

  • RewindingtonMaximus

    My hangover is angry with me for reading paragraphs.

    No, its not fun to the friendly Black person who acts as like Google for White People. However it also isn’t fun being the irrational and emotional Black person that flips out every time a race question is brought up.

    I look at it like community service. The more they know, the less stupidity exists.

    • Lord do I HATE the irrational and emotional Black person who flips out over race. When you try to talk them off the ledge, they’ll try to make you look like an Uncle Tom. It’s a very interesting vibe.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        It is and an extremely sad waste of time. Knowing I used to be one, I honestly know how physical and mentally draining it is to be that angry all the time for no got damn reason.

    • Wild Cougar

      “The more they know, the less stupidity exists”

      You would think, but my experience says not really.

      • RewindingtonMaximus

        I agree with you but I’m still hopelessly optimistic for all the wrong reasons.

      • miss t-lee

        Exactly.

      • MPM

        So it’s better if ignorant white people remain ignorant, rather than asking stupid questions, but at least getting a clarifying answer to debunk their stupidity?

        • Wild Cougar

          I have no concern for their ignorance, just stay out of my way. That includes asking me ignorant questions that are usually dripping in microagressions and desire to have your head petted for being an ally. Go the fu away. Google it. Read a book. Not my problem.

          • MPM

            I get that. And on an individual level that makes sense. However, their ignorance has real world negative impacts like the shooting of young black men, or not giving someone a job because of their race, or not wanting their child to date someone of a different race, etc. I’m not trying to justify the actions of people that are looking to get diversity points for having conversations about race with people of a different race, but I think there are people who are legitimately interested in hearing a different perspective on race, and thereby may broaden their understanding and limit their ignorance.

            • Wild Cougar

              People don’t shoot young black men and reject them for jobs because they are ignorant. They do it because they believe in and need white superiority down to their bones. No conversation with a black person will change that. As I said above, their very identity depends on the idea of black people being inferior. Getting to know the black person you never talk to at work does not disable the racist structure of corporate America. Not even one at a time. It’s a fairy tale to believe that’s how this system will change, a few questions and friendly conversations and Kumbaya.

              It’s a load of crap. The only thing the conversation usually does is feed the white person’s narcissistic need to make everything about them and how they feel about their central role in everybody’s else’s world. It makes them feel better for having had the conversation. It’s a cute little shortcut to get your sticker and you don’t gotta do anything uncomfortable. All the while we keep on carrying the burden of how white people feel about things. And just swallowed your microagressions with a shid eating grin cuz we owe you the opportunity. Cuz Black.

              It is not our burden to fix racism. It is the burden of white people to challenge and educate other white people and change the system they created and benefit from. It’s not about conversations and relationships, its about power, resources. That’s what it has always been about it. All this conversation dialogue relatiohship Kumbaya bull shid is a smokescreen to hide the real deal. I’m not participating.

              • MPM

                If what you say is true about white people, why would they want to change the system? Therefore, black people continue to suffer oppression in our society, while white people continue to benefit from that oppression. The actions of a few well-meaning white people are not going to change this. The unfair and unfortunate reality is that if race relations are going to change in America, the people that are most acutely affected by race in this country – non-whites – are going to have to be the ones continuing those conversations. And I agree with you, white people need to step up and start doing something, but it is the unfortunate luxury of white people in America not have to talk, or even think about race, other than in a very disconnected and philosophical way. Again, it’s not fair, but it seems that it is the reality.

                • Wild Cougar

                  No, the reality is that things will change when Black people get tired enough to focus on our advancement and forget about convincing white people anything. We have the money, resources and talent. Actually, white people acting wild and crazy only contributes to our unity. I don’t have any fcuks left for how white people think or feel. Especially after this. If after everything we’ve endured and done they can’t look at reality and see it, there is nothing we can teach them. They are unteachable. Racism is a form of insanity. You don’t argue with crazy people. It’s about money and power. Its about time Black people focus on helping us get ours and nothing else. White people will be scared and run and try to negotiate and eventually will have to respect us because they will have no other choice once we hold our resources for ourselves only.

                  • MPM

                    I agree with you that self-reliance is definitely a better strategy than appeasement. But you act as though we’re living in a completely segregated society and that black people and white people are so different. The reality is that while certainly segregation exists (both socially and institutionally), we live in the same country and we’re all here and we need to figure out a way to fix things. You’re exactly right that it’s f*cked up that white people continue to look the other way, and that’s something I talk to my white friends about all the time, because I don’t think it’s right. But we can’t make solving the problem of race relations a white or black issue, when that is the very problem we’re trying to overcome (unless you disagree that it is a problem).

                    • Wild Cougar

                      It is a segregated society when black skin is considered a weapon. It is a black and white issue. The problem is not the identification of and with race, it is brutal oppression. If you cannot understand that, then I have nothing left to say to you.

  • Wild Cougar

    I went to a very white university. A liberal, crunchy granola hippiest of hippy type places. 90% white. They felt they were diverse because they had different kinds of white people. I was the black friend and came to resent it. Once I wrote an opinion column about how it felt like I was used as toilet paper to wipe off the racism my “friends” were uncomfortable with. Being used is what it is. I have no responsibility to educate people about what it is to be black. I’m going to tell you why I stopped trying.

    I discovered that even the most well meaning white people who sought me out to discover their “errors” needed white supremacy for their very identity. It was hidden from them, they didn’t know that their very identity stood on it and if it crumbled, they would panic and get hostile. The classic case would be someone who would go out of their way to be friendly or helpful to me. Each one would have a little trigger. One thing they felt gave a person value in society and a higher place in the hierarchy. Could be a college degree, owning a home, owning a certain brand of car, the size of your house, the size of your paycheck. These white people were happy to have you as a black friend and explore all the reasons they were privileged and work for justice as long as you stayed below their trigger line. Once you crossed their trigger line by buying a home, getting a law degree, making more money, having a better car, all their egalitarianism would fly out the window and you would see hostility. Anger, red faced, steam out of your ears rage. I’ve seen it a number of times. It was the very idea of themselves falling in social ranking because a black person has something equal or better than they do.

    What I saw was they were interested in being the savior. The hero. That was their form of supremacy and it was super easy to hide from everyone, even themselves. When I discovered that, I decided to stop trying to explain things altogether. It is not our burden to teach them. They will ride us on every level, to remain peaceful, quiet, to reassure them, pet their heads and call them heroes, give them the “not a racist” stamp of approval and stay on call for any moment when the stamp is questioned to be the black friend who proves their status.

    Not doing it.

    • blame those white savior movies….

    • What I saw was they were interested in being the savior. The hero. That
      was their form of supremacy and it was super easy to hide from everyone,
      even themselves.

      Jesus CHRIST I hate those White Savior types! They annoy me as much as the racists, if not more so. They swear they love Black people when they despise them.

      • Wild Cougar

        I don’t think they despise us, they pity us and think we are incapable of taking care of ourselves because of our blackness. They have the burden of taking care of us, just like they have to take care of the Amazon rain forest and the poor abandoned dogs and cats. W’ere not quite as capable as them, so we can’t be blamed for our understandable character flaws. We were born with them.

    • Val

      “They felt they were diverse because they had different kinds of white people”

      Yes! I’ve noticed that most of the time this is what they mean by diversity. It’s also the only kind of diversity most really like and aspire to.

      • In my experience, it’s more everything from gay to Asian. When trashing them, let’s be honest. No need to make them worse when they are already horrible. LOL

    • THIS. I will say though, this is not limited to race. I’ve seen it happen when say, the one heavyset girl in the office is the only woman that gets flowers sent in from her boyfriend, or the only Black girl in the office with natural hair comes in with a hot and very White boyfriend. I could rattle off a dozen of these but the ugliness usually comes out when the pedestal of privilege anyone sits on to perform their pity production gets knocked down a bit.

      I remember once when on a backpacking trip in Central America with a well-to-do family (that wanted some ‘culture’) they remarked that even though they didn’t have their usual amenities, they were happy they took this “simple” trip because it made them really appreciate what they had back home because “look at how these people had to live”. By then, my patience was done and I noted that as “these people” have never seen how you live they don’t know what they are missing…so they are likely happier and have a better quality of life than you do with all your toys and all your bills. The family got so angry with me that they refused to speak to me for the rest of the trip, much to my delight. Pointing that stuff out will never not be funny to me.

      • Wild Cougar

        “the pedestal of privilege anyone sits on to perform their pity production”. I love it.
        That reminds me of the group of friends I used to hang with. I didn’t realize I was the one they thought they were doing a favor by hanging with until we were all out and they saw me in flirt mode getting more male attention than them. They went on a campaign to label me a ho that has since gone on over 4 yrs. I kid you not. They are comically over the top with it. Don’t hang with them anymore. The reason I lose most friends is because I’m kinda low key and they get mad when they see what I am/do/have.

    • Ms. Bridget

      This just happened to my sister. The trigger was a job. As long as she needed “mentorship” all was good. She accepted that offer, they became “peers”, and the hostility ensued. Sad…

  • I have a handful of white friends but the bulk of them have never asked me anything about race. The one that asked the most quit because I basically told her she was the classic northern do good white liberal and if she opened her eyes she would understand what she’s asking for herself.

  • Posts like these remind me that I haven’t been in majority white institutions since elementary school and won’t again until either more schooling or career.

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