Wow. I guess a hit dog will holler. When I wrote this on Sunday regarding the gaggle of white people online who turned the carnage of Charlottesville, Va., into a contest to prove they’re not terrible, I was surprised that so many white people would interpret this to mean I was talking about all white people. Or all white allies. Or Heather Heyer, an anti-racist counterprotester who was killed by a reported white supremacist terrorist.
I thought I was pretty specific: Unless you were among the “But I’m really good, honest to goodness I am. Can someone talk to me about how I’m feeling right now?” crowd who can’t look at racism without thinking “But what about me?” I wasn’t talking about you.
But I was specific in saying that if you were among those coming to The Root, a site for black people, run by black people and written by black people, expecting us to hold your hand through this mighty journey called “racism in American society,” you were sadly mistaken. We’re not going to do that, or at least I’m not.
Basically, if you weren’t someone trying to make a woman’s death and a man being brutally beaten about your own personal guilt and bruised ego over virulent racists being racist while also being white, I wasn’t talking about you. But a lot of people just got upset anyway.
To that I say:
If you’re the type of “ally” who can’t listen to anything critical—even when it’s EXPLICITLY not about you, but about assholes who can’t talk about bigotry without explaining that “Hey, I have a black friend” and therefore don’t have any “racist bones in my body”—what kind of ally are you? If you can’t handle me complaining about other white people who have nothing to do with you (if you truly are an ally, they honestly don’t), what are you really upset about?
If your response is to rattle off a guilt-riddled defense of why you should be able to make something—which is not about you—about you because, I dunno, you donated some money to Black Lives Matter once or Heather Heyer was white, too, so you should be able to claim credit for her act of selflessness by your racial affiliation, again, what is wrong with you?
Why don’t you want to focus and talk about the scourge that is racism in our society? Why don’t you want to talk about the lives taken and the lives ruined? Why don’t you want to talk about how to resolve these issues, how to strive toward making society more equal, how to make America a better place where you don’t die just because you stand up for the rights of others?
So for everyone who is not a completely self-centered, self-involved, self-important “but what about me”-ist, here’s a cookie.
Seems like some of you really, really need it.