Trigger warning: if you suffer from white fragility this is going to hurt. Please feel free to step outside for this one. Google “white fragility.”
- White Friend or White Ally?
White people, wanting to be Black, identifying with your Black friends and what you stereotype as “Black culture”, speaking AAVE (African American Vernacular English), enjoying hanging with Black people and often being the only white person in the room, having your friends call you their vanilla chocolate or white chocolate friend DOES NOT, I repeat, DOES NOT make you an “ally.” It does not mean you are giving up your white privilege. Quite the opposite actually. You are often using your white privilege to take up space in Black places where people acquiesce to your quirks. You ARE an ally when you are the only white person a room full of white people asking everyone why there are no Black people or other PoC in that room. You ARE an ally when you show up and support while letting Black people run their own shit. It’s not about being able to hold your own in banter with Black folks, it’s about being able to hold your ground when racist white folks do and say things that put “others” down. There are distinct differences to being someone’s “white friend” and someone’s ally.
- No Cookies For You
You get no cookies for wanting to be Black, for having a Black friend, or – now put on your grown up pants and listen to this – for being an “ally,” particularly a self-proclaimed / self-appointed one. You stand for something if you believe in it, not because you want thanks or validation or are trying to convince yourself you’re not racist. Let me repeat that: YOU STAND FOR SOMETHING BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE IN IT. Sometimes people recognize you are genuine and you might develop strong relationships with people who appreciate your work and sincerity on issues that affect them. That might happen naturally. That however is not what you are working for and not something you should feel entitled to. Some people might be rude to you. That sucks. That should not change what you believe in and stand for. If it does, you probably aren’t really an ally. Google “white savior complex.”
- You Don’t Have To Own It To Love It
Wanting to be like something/ someone else, (especially something/someone unattainable) says more about your lack of self esteem than it does about your love for someone else or that someone else’s culture. Furthermore, it is not a compliment to a Black person that you wish you had hair or skin like theirs. What are you trying to say – that you wanting it, validating it, is what really defines it as beautiful? Like, yeah, sure it’s nice, but until it’s nice enough for you to want/wear, it’s essentially worthless? Also, Google “cultural appropriation.”
- Assumptions make an “ass” of “u” and “mption”
Don’t make assumptions about me or other Black people based on what you know about your “Black friend.” Just because your “Black friend” is okay with something doesn’t mean other Black people are going to stand for it. For example, don’t assume you can use the “N” word because your Black friend lets you do it without taking offense. It is also imprudent to assume I use the this word. To some people the word is utterly disgusting no matter whose tongue it rolls off. Making assumptions about the words we use, the way we live, how we identify, our needs, our beliefs or what we consider acceptable or unacceptable behavior based on stereotypes or your one representative “Black friend” caricaturizes a diverse group of people and can land you (rightfully) in many uncomfortable situations.
- About My Hair And Body
If you are not in my inner sanctum of very close friends, do not assume you can touch my hair or any other part of my being or come close enough to disturb my aura – ever. Ask me before doing anything that involves my person and don’t be surprised, offended or hurt if you are told “No” or get ignored or walked away from (cause that shit gets annoying). Disclaimer: In general I’d like to say you do have consent save my life in the event of my unconsciousness or me otherwise being in circumstances when I am unable to expressly give consent to being rescued while my life is in danger. It may be assumed I want to live. Otherwise, ask. It’s basic decency. Or better yet, just let me live.
These are 5 of the many “misunderstandings” involved in Black, non-Black PoC and white relations in the US and I’m sure other places. If you accidently read this and your white fragility is hurting you right now, go take some deep breaths, drink some water and get your emotions under control. Then as a mature adult, figure out what applies to you and what you can learn from it. Growth isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. Peace.
Disclaimer: This post does not necessarily reflect the opinion and views of the entire Black/African American/African diaspora population. See item number 4.
© 2015 Kelene Blake, All Rights Reserved