Dear well-meaning white people (Phillip B. Williams)

Dear well-meaning white people:

1.) You don’t have the ability or right to question Black people’s Blackness or relationship to their community. So, this includes Raven-Symone, Don Lemon, Stacy Dash, and whomever else. You don’t get to question their Black card, how they were raised, or anything of that nature. You DO, however, get to question these people on their perpetuation of false information. Leave their race out of it. That’s not for you.

2.) No matter how many Black friends you have, how many Black people you’ve sexed up with, how many Black mentors you have, you do not have any idea how being Black anywhere in the world feels. So, your imagination is prepopulated with myths that are seductive to use, I understand, but really only play on the stereotypes and bad sociology that whiteness is built on. Silence that.

3.) ALL of your attention should be put on how whiteness works in your own lives and communities. You should not have time to check in on what we’re doing over here, considering your hands should be mighty full dealing with the endless list of racists in your crew. Work on that first and only, please and thank you.

4.) Always remember that just because you are (or think you are) down, that you still have work to do on yourselves, much like everyone in their respective groups. Which leads me to…

5.) Questions to ask yourself:
*Why am I invested in this cause and how have I listened to the people who need assistance? What is my lane? How do I not get in the way of/speak over/speak for the people I am trying to help? What am I willing to lose?

*In my work, be it art or science or sports etc, how do I perpetuate stereotypes of Black people? Do I pity them their crime-riddled neighborhoods without looking back at the history of white oppression that created and solidified what many call the “ghetto”? Do I over sexualize Black people and believe that is a respectful portrayal of their beauty. Think of words like “vixen”, “mandingo”, “bootylicious”, images of women with large buttocks and men with huge penises and ask why do I support/did I create/do I desire this? Why did I make this and for whose consumption?

*Why do I believe these thing about Black people and how does that hurt them? When I say “ghetto” or “hood”, what do I mean? When I recruit for my sports team, how does it feel having a majority Black team in a school with so few Black students? Do I defend myself and my right to do xyz when I make something harmful and/or hurtful to Black people (from personal decisions, to political campaigns, to art, to a building)?

*Am I working out of guilt or out of love? What is the difference?

*Do I think my interest in Black people and Black culture gives me a pass at performing problematic behavior in ways I criticize other, “not down” white people for doing?

*What can I do within my own community to fight against racism?

*What can I do as a person to make myself a stronger resource?

6.) The white gaze on Black ppl does not feel good. The white gaze on Black people does not feel good. The white gaze on Black people does not feel good.

7.) If the Black person was your white child or white bff or kin, would the same rules apply? Would the question still be “Well, what did they do [to deserve that treatment]?”

8.) Critique yourself the hardest. Always.

9.) And, again, leave discussions about Blackness to Black people. You have zero authority. It’s hard enough finding space for ourselves while dealing with non-allies so we don’t have time to nudge over allies who standing in the way (in an ironically non-ally way).

Phillip B. Williams, October 28 at 11:50am·


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