Bruh (and when I say “bruh,” I don’t mean it in a sexist, gender-erasing way. I mean it as an introductory phrase, like how people from Florida start their sentence with “Fam,” or people from New York start their sentences with “Son” and end them with “B.” Or how people from everywhere start their sentences with “Nigga.” OK, to be honest, I wanted to start this off with “My nigga,” but I know white people are reading this, because … nosy).
Anyway, my nigga, I know the past weekend was tough for all of us. There was a terrorist automobile attack in Charlottesville, Va., by a radical Caucasian fundamentalist. A terror cell beat a man because he was black. In addition to Charlottesville’s sequel to The Purge, police officers in Euclid, Ohio, had an impromptu MMA match with a citizen.
This week is going to be hard. Unlike the supremacists who can simply refuse to deal with people they don’t like, black people who need a break from dealing with toxic whiteness get no break because being black in America offers no respite. Many of you had to climb out of your beds this morning; watch the coverage of the president of the United States of White America equivocate about white supremacy; and then go to work, school or the grocery store surrounded by the people who voted for Donald Trump, support white nationalism or simply think mayonnaise is a more important condiment than hot sauce.
Instead of lashing out at these people or calling in sick, we have compiled a list of white people you may encounter this week and how to deal with each of them.
One thing you will find about many white people is that they have no chill. They will text you at your mother’s funeral and tell you they really need you in the staff meeting at work tomorrow. They will make a joke about police brutality the day after a black boy has been killed (which, in academic circles, is called “every day”). They will wear their “Make America Great Again” hats the day after a deadly white supremacist rally.
When you encounter a person like this, do not engage this person, because he or she is trolling for a confrontation. Laugh at him or her and casually mention, “I like your shirt. I saw one just like it at Old Racist Navy!”
If you have to engage in conversation, do not project hate or sarcasm. Instead, you should talk to him or her in the one tone these people cannot stand: pity.
You already know that Trump supporters are less educated. According to Pew Research:
Trump’s margin among whites without a college degree is the largest among any candidate in exit polls since 1980. Two-thirds (67%) of non-college whites backed Trump, compared with just 28% who supported Clinton, resulting in a 39-point advantage for Trump among this group.
You should stoop down to their level ... of education. Preface every sentence with, “I’m going to talk slow so that you’ll understand.” Spell out big words. Over-enunciate when you talk to them. Whenever they have to do a simple math problem, like 2+3, hand them a calculator.
If they get aggravated, tell them that you understand how “the system” fools poor Caucasians into supporting politicians whose policies are in direct opposition to their financial and political interests. Tell them you donated money to a nonprofit that counsels men with small penises. Tell them some of your best friends are mentally handicapped.
You probably work with a guy named Blake or a woman named Kelly who believes that you went to college for free and got the job because of a diversity-initiative quota, even though this person got the job because he or she grew up with the owner’s son (or, as it is called in academic circles, wypipo affirmative action) and you have a master’s degree in Doing Hard Shit.
This person is probably in your study group or is your team member at work. He or she slips into Ebonics whenever he or she talks to you, gives you some “dap” instead of a handshake and always asks if you know random black people who have nothing in common with you other than their blackness. Yeah ... that person.
The key to dealing with such people is publicly, unabashedly calling them out on their bullshit. When Blake comes over to your cubicle, publicly say, “Blake, I know the white handshake; let’s do that from now on.” Every time these people have a question, answer it politely, but begin each answer with, “As someone more educated and experienced than you and who earns less money, I think we should ... ” Stare coldly into Kelly’s eyes as you tell her that you don’t know LaKeisha because you don’t regularly attend the secret black-America meetings.
Early this morning, Susan walked up to you and rubbed you on the back in small concentric circles while explaining that she knows this is a hard day for you and how she is on your side. She probably told you to call her if you need someone to talk to. Susan is “woke.” Susan stands for the equal treatment of all people ...
... and Susan is annoying as fuck.
It’s not her fault. Susan doesn’t understand that you don’t want to discuss racism and prejudice with her tear-filled eyes. Plus, she also doesn’t know that she makes it harder for you than the outward racists because she is always getting in the way trying to champion every infinitesimal cause for you. She is a social justice warrior who speaks truth to power—whether it is forcing your company to hold a Kwanzaa celebration or changing the company policy about acceptable hairstyles. Now Susan wants to know how you feel about Charlottesville.
Tell Susan straight up that you don’t want to talk to white people today. She will tell you how, statistically speaking, most white people aren’t racist. She might ask you not to let the actions of a few white supremacists make you hate white people because that is reverse racism. Plus, this country needs to have a conversation about race. Also, she will remind you that “not all white people ... ”
If she says this, put a toy spider on Susan’s arm. When she screams and runs away, yell after her: “Statistically speaking, most spiders aren’t poisonous! Don’t let the actions of a few white people make you hate arachnids! We need to have a conversation about venom! Not all spiders, Susan. Not all spiders!”
Her name is Kathy. She has six cats and two dogs and she doesn’t watch the news very often. His name is Chad and he mostly hikes and surfs on the weekend. Neither of them likes to talk about politics, but they seem cool. Kathy often brings you a Tupperware container of casserole she made (she guards that Tupperware like a family heirloom, too), and you went out drinking with Chad once. They seem cool.
You are going to be mad at Chad and Kathy, even though they haven’t done anything to you and have never shown any outward signs of racism. Don’t take it out on them. Be nice to them. Be honest. Just say, “Chad, I’m really not in the mood for a conversation,” or “Kathy, can we discuss the TPS reports another time?”
But whether it is the poltergeist in the attic of the haunted house or your gas face, white people can’t stand not knowing, so if they keep probing, tell them:
OK, Chad, you want to know what’s wrong? I’m jealous of you. You get to live in a world where your family, your neighborhood, your children, your people get to waltz blithely by hate and prejudice without getting any on the bottom of their shoes.
I’m not angry at you; I’m envious of your privilege. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to watch the news to see if I can travel abroad, or if my cousins from overseas are allowed to come see me. I want to exist without having to worry that my children will have to go to underfunded schools because of historical redlining. I want to let my son hang out without giving him instructions on how to reach for his wallet and how to show all of his teeth when he smiles at a police officer.
I don’t want to be white. I don’t even want to be oblivious. I just want to be free, Kathy. Free from all this bullshit that I had no part in bringing on myself. Free from this hate and the weird looks. Free from the Trump slogans and alt-right side eyes. Free from having to defend my existence. Free from having to throw elbows and swallow punches just to find a space in which my blackness fits. Can’t you understand, Chad and Kathy? I want to be free!
Kathy and Chad will stare at you and might be reluctant to ask you any question again, ever. But you will feel better once you have gotten it off your chest. You won’t be free, but you will feel liberated. There’s no need to feel discouraged. That’s how evil wins, fam.
That’s my word, B.