Thursday, January 23, 2014

White People, Can We Talk? Really?

I was out with some friends recently when one of them jokingly called me a racist because I didn't appreciate the voyeuristic way some white folks approach predominately Black events and gatherings. My friends know that whenever I see specks of white in a sea of Black, my eyes slide into "side eye" formation, and my antenna rise into position. Why are you here? Are we performers in some sort of exotic show for your entertainment? Are we research subjects to observe so you can complete your dissertation? I laughed off her observation because of our friendship and because no reasonable person likes to think of themselves as racist. However, the way things have been going lately she may be one to something.

Yes, we've come a long way from "colored only" drinking fountains, fire houses and bus boycotts. However, that offers little solace when Black men, women and children are still being shot down in the streets for merely being Black and institutional barriers keep many of us from experiencing true equality. There are reasons why income and educational gaps exists, why the Black employment rate is always high, and why the school-to-prison pipeline disproportionally affects young people of color, and it ain't because we're all a bunch of shiftless Negroes. Racism and its negative effects are real. Trust me on this.

I was inspired to write this after reading an article by EBONY's Jamilah Lemieux, a writer who really needs to get out of my head:

"Look, White folks, can we just agree to disagree on the whole “treating Black people with respect” thing? Clearly, we aren’t going to see eye-to-eye. So… can y’all just leave us alone? Like, just look away when you see us doing anything and don’t put us in your movies, TV shows or living room sets. Just leave us be, leave us be, leave us be. Don’t celebrate Dr. King’s death on his birthday, don’t celebrate his birthday at all, just please go back to your corner and we’ll stay in ours. I don’t want integration anymore. I don’t even want those cheesecake swirl brownies from Starbucks. You just take that creamy stuff and let us keep the chocolate.

I’m tired of y’all making us feel bad, I’m tired of having to explain or defend my humanity and the humanity of those who look like me..."

I don't know if I would go as far as Lemieux, but sis, I understand. I mean, between blackface parties, black people furniture, cultural appropriation, gentrification, or labeling young black men as thugs just for the crime of being loud (and a jerk) after a football game, is there any wonder why some of us are just sick of this crap? And then some of y'all got the nerve to tell us that we're too sensitive and playing the "race card." Good lawd. At times it seems like we keep trying with y'all and IT. JUST. AIN'T. WORKING. This mess is exhausting, and a lot of us are just TIRED.

The fact that some whites remain racist and willfully ignorant in 2014 is disturbing, disheartening and sad, but not surprising. Even President Obama FINALLY acknowledged the obvious: Some people don't like him because he's Black. Shocking. Not really.  It honestly feels like for every one white person who gets it and is not racist, there are about 5,000 who are committed to hate based on skin color and just don't give a damn. Even better are the ones who feign ignorance when whatever horrible and racially offensive thing they've done is exposed and then top if off with a half-ass "apology." Yeah, Madonna, I'm looking at you.

This crap needs to stop and as tempting as is to throw in the towel, it's not a realistic solution. You aren't going anywhere, and neither are we.  I'm not going to get all kumbaya on you, but equal treatment and respect for your fellow HUMAN BEINGS isn't hard, and it isn't exhausting like racism. You know I'm tired, but aren't you tired too?

Glad we could have this talk.

Stay random,