It’s time we have a discussion about the recent wave of white people who are suddenly interested in engaging in the national discussion on race in America. Recent polls show that there are more white people than ever who believe systemic racism is real and are invested in being part of the solution. There’s just one problem: THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL THEY’RE DOING!!! You know...I shouldn’t shout. My point is, while more white people are attempting to join the right side of history, their methods of engagement are often misguided.
Take for example the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which is now apologizing after getting dragged to hell and back over a “non-POC” virtual event the school launched that took place Tuesday. Yes, you read that right—a “non-POC” event. Some genius was smart enough to understand that “whites only” had big Jim Crow energy and would raise a shit load of eyebrows, but they didn’t think “non-POC” might get a similar response. Man, look at this shit:
Now, to be fair, I don’t know for certain that white people were the only ones behind the decision making here. But if I was a betting man I’d say the person who greenlit this shit is also someone who has never successfully clapped on the 2 and 4 their entire life. That person has definitely engaged in a tense online debate about whether washing your legs is even necessary. This person is absolutely confounded by the fact that raisins in potato salad create such controversy
Also, I guess we should talk about what the university was going for. From TMZ:
Here’s what happened — the university’s Center for Social Justice & Inclusion hosted a Zoom session Tuesday called a “Non-POC Cafe” for students who don’t identify as people of color to “gather and to discuss their experience” living as non-POC in the world.
At the same time, it also hosted a virtual cafe for Black, Indigenous and POC students from marginalized communities to gather on Zoom to do the same thing.
Naturally, people were outraged and called UM-Dearborn out for allowing apparent segregation on campus, or at the very least ... promoting exclusionary virtual events without thinking of the repercussions.
The college is owning up to it and apologizing now, saying the way it described the virtual events was “not clear and not reflective of the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
As for the thought-process behind the dual “cafes,” UM-Dearborn claims it meant well ... but simply missed the mark in its delivery.
It says ... “The original intent was to provide students from marginalized communities a space that allowed for them to exist freely without having to normalize their lives and experiences, while also providing students that do not identify as persons of color the opportunity to deepen their understanding of race and racism without harming or relying on students of color to educate them.”
Yep, they white. One would have to be a washcloth-less person to create one event for white people to discuss race through the lens of whiteness and then lump all non-default races together in a separate event to discuss the racism we already discuss and live with daily.
This is the same brand of caucasity that had white people thinking it was a good idea to fashion broken glass from riots into jewelry and engrave the names of Black victims of police violence on said glass as a statement on racial injustice.
What did the “non-POC” even talk about? More bad ideas? Here’s how that virtual meeting went in my head:
*Sum Whitey joins group*
“How about we start an interracial platonic dating app? Like ‘Plenty of Fish’ only ours would be more like ‘Plenty of Black Friends to Prove How Racist Bone-Free Our Bodies Are.’”
*Bobby Camps-a-lot joins group*
“Sum Whitey, that’s a terrible idea. Don’t you even know that all white people are racist because we all benefit from white supremacy? Clearly the answer is to start a Go Fund Me for white people to get elective surgery and have all our racist bones removed.”
*Suzie McStop-Calling-Me-Karen joins group*
“Oh my ghaaaaad, like, white men are so stupiiiiid. All we need to do is listen to Black women. We should just put pink pussy hats on Black women’s heads after touching their hair without permission so we can empower ALL women. I know all about marginalization because I’m 1/26th Cherokee on my baby-daddy’s side...He’s Black, by the way.”
*#WhiteGirlsGotMagicToo joins group*
“So I’m just going to put my hair in cornrows to show solidarity. Just keep it simple, people.”
Anyway, UM-Dearborn released a statement Wednesday saying, “UM-Dearborn sincerely regrets the terms used to describe the ‘cafe’ events held on September 8. The terms used to describe these virtual events and the descriptions themselves were not clear and not reflective of the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”
“[The] University of Michigan-Dearborn is committed to fostering and maintaining an inclusive campus environment and encourages ongoing dialogue amongst our students, faculty and staff on challenging issues,” the statement continues. “As campus activities continue to operate in a predominantly remote capacity due to COVID-19, our Center for Social Justice and Inclusion has looked to develop virtual spaces that allow for these important conversations to continue.”