Here are some of things that white people say when they are typically exhibiting white fragility or trying to see somewhat reasonably well informed on race, but in reality, just super annoy the hell out of black people who might not be as articulate as I am. But let me explain why some of the things white people often say when race comes up are REALLY STUPID!
1. I can’t be racist because someone in my family is black.
Just because you didn’t spit in the face of the black guy who married your cousin (or sister or nephew or whoever) does not mean you don’t have racial blind spots. And it certainly doesn’t mean you are immune to abusing your white privilege or exhibiting extreme white fragility in the moment. In fact, it’s a glib excuse that doesn’t hold any real credibility.
Few people are racist as to say something overtly to a family member. That’s not to say that some white people still don’t do it. But simply not doing racist acts does not mean you don’t have racial bias and prejudices. This is what Professor Robin DiAngelo calls the “Good Bad Binary” approach to race. White people believe that only “bad people” are racist. And because most white people believe “I’m a good person, and I surround myself with good people, and because we aren’t actively trying to harm black people, we can’t be racist.” This is extremely flawed logic, and I’ll refer you to her video.
White Fragility with Robin DiAngelo. (Guardian YouTube Video on White Fragility)
And as someone who comes from an interracial family, I have first-hand experience. White people only tend to learn about how deep and insidious racism can be when someone in their IMMEDIATE family is affected. They have to be able to be there when the person of color gets micro-aggressions or gets racial slurs thrown at them. They have to see the tears in their bi-racial child’s eyes before they really get racism.
You telling your second cousin that her bi-racial child has pretty skin does not make you a civil rights champion.
Let's be clear. You're using your family members or friends as props or human shields to avoid having to tackle the issue that you might have gaps in your racial knowledge.
2. I can’t be racist, because I f*cked a black guy once.
The logic here is ridiculous, but it's not that different to the one above --> Because I occasionally find black men (or other people of color attractive), I can’t be racist (or have blind spots or say things that are uninformed and ignorant). So again, I’d refer you to the good-bad-binary approach to racism. Just because you find black men attractive, doesn’t mean you don’t have racial blind spots and can’t say stupid shit, like the phrase above.
But you know who else liked shagging black women??? Thomas Jefferson!!!
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the USA, and he was an ardent proponent of SLAVERY! But he shagged a black woman and was better to her than other slave masters, so he can’t be racist right?
Keep in mind, he started shagging her when she was 13 or 14. And he never freed his slave until he died at the age of 75. But he can't be racist right???
You know who else shagged black women??? Strom Thurmond!!!
He advocated for legal segregation and he denounced all attempts to end segregationn and give black people the right to vote. He fought race mixing in all public venues, eve after it became legal.
But guess what... He had sex with (and most likely raped) his black maid. They had a bi-racial child. And he NEVER publicly acknowledged his black child while he was alive.
So does his finding his black maid attractive earn him a pass for all his racist deeds?
Just because you sat on a black cock once does NOT make you a civil rights champion!!!
So... Yes, I accept that these are extreme examples. But they send the point home. You can have racially repugnant views and still fancy black people. In fact, some white men get off on the power dynamics. They enjoy the fact that they have power over the other person. (Men in general do this, but it doesn't take away from the fact that there can be power dynamics).
And speaker of power dynamics... I have to briefly mention the issue of fetishization. Are you open to marrying a black man? Or do you just want a fix of BBC, so you can have your one experience then move on? I literally just wrote out a test in my previous blog on how to see whether or not you have unconscious biases in your dating life. So read that and then come back to me on this one…
3. I’m flaky with everyone – it’s not because you’re black.
I hate this one. Perhaps, I hate this one because it’s the ultimate get out of jail free card. It’s basically a white person saying, “Yes, I know I’m an ass-hole, but I’m like that to everyone.” First, you’re a dick head. And I already wrote an entire 240-page book explaining why people like you are ruining the gay scene.
Second, what people don’t realize is that their white privilege, in a way, contributes towards their ability to be flaky and get away with it. Because whiteness is so admired, deserved and pursued in gay culture, you can get away with being rude and flaky towards people. Your whiteness makes it easier for you to treat people like shit, because other people will always be lining up to date you. Now, let me be clear, this does NOT apply to all white people. You have to be white and conventionally attractive. But your “hotness” allows you to get away with horrendous behavior in the world of Grindr.
Ethnic minorities, or whites who aren’t deemed attractive, cannot get away with the same shenanigans. And as I said in my previous blog: if you know the gay scene is racist and queer people of color have to deal with way more shit than you’d ever have to, WHY ARE YOU MAKING THINGS HARDER FOR US?
But I have a sneaking suspicion that if we went through your phone and your WhatsApp and Grindr messages, there might be a racial disparity on whom you make time for...
But even if you are just a non-racist flaky person, doing nothing is not enough! Use your privilege to get involved and raise awareness on ending racism in the gay community, or at the least, be a bit kinder to those people who don’t have your white (and hot) privilege. Flaky men are still scum of the earth!!!
4. Yes, racism is bad, but at least you (as a black person) don’t have it as bad as Asians...
This might be true, but it’s a cop-out. Like… Should I be grateful that white people treat me terribly, because someone else gets it worse? Think about how stupid that logic is. I'm not supposed to protest racism, because someone has it worse? Shouldn't we all be working on dismantling all forms of racism and making a gay community that is open and embraces everyone?
I don't think anyone means to be so stupid and tone deaf when they say it, but this is also a subtle form of manipulation. People who say this are unconsciously asking black people not to complain about racism, which makes them feel uncomfortable and triggers their white fragility, and we are to sooth ourselves with the knowledge that someone out there is getting it worse. Like should I write "No Asians" on my Grindr profile, because someone else wrote "No Blacks" on theirs? Like this is ridiculously stupid logic.
So why do white people say it?
It's a glib answer to HELP SOME WHITE PEOPLE NOT TO CONFRONT HOW NASTY RACISM IS AND HOW THEY BENEFIT FROM IT. If they can pivot away, then they don't have to feel uncomfortable.
But this type of thinking is the same type of thinking that Republicans use on the white working class in the USA (and in Britain).
The logic is parallel. Don't pay attention to the bigger issue (Murdoch hogging the cookies / wider racism in the gay community) just look down on that other guy over there!
5. I’m Irish / Ginger / [Fill in the Blank], so my group of white people get a lot of discrimination too (OR... I can't be racist because my white ethnic group have experienced discrimination).
Ugh… This is really stupid on so many levels, but I’m too exhausted to go into it. But again, because people of your background have experienced a fraction of what black people experience today does not make you a civil rights icon. It also does not mean that you can't have uninformed opinions on race.
Racism is systemic and pervasive. People not liking red heads is no where in the same ballpark.
In one sense, this argument is extremely lazy. As if to say that because your group in the past has experienced discrimination, you can't possibly have blind spots, say stupid things, or not recognize the systemic issues of racism in society or white privilege. There's no intellectual weight there. It's just a glib saying to keep your white fragility in tact.
6. Telling the Black Person, "You're Angry" or "Crazy"
I would have thought this one was going out of style. White people seemed to be getting hip to the fact that telling a black person that they are "angry" is an unacceptable form of racial gaslighting.
But of course, someone did that to me recently on Tinder. I was kind of shocked and stunned, because I hadn't heard it before. I took screen shots and I've got the guy's name. But I'll refrain from naming and shaming for now. But it's so crazy. But nevertheless, I had to add it to the list.
First, he said that I was ridiculous, because I wanted to figure out someone's racial awareness BEFORE I meet them for a date. When he got super offended, because he clearly hadn't ever seriously dated a person of color before, he got angry.
Second, this is classic white fragility. If you can dismiss the Harvard lawyer as just another angry Negro who complains about everything, it gets you (or other defensive white guys) off the hook. This Tinder guy doesn't have to examine his behavior, his assumptions, his prejudices or the areas where he's left people of color feeling "less than." It's intellectually lazy. It shows that you've done no research into critical race theory, you have no understanding of systemic racism. And it shows you're a moron when it comes to race.
Third, it's a way to invalidate my life experience, which is part of the reason I am writing an entire book on racism!!! If I've been dealing with this nonsense for years, and you as a white person have not, the last thing you should be doing is trying to dismiss my educated analysis of systemic racism with your stupidity. It's like you trying to argue that the world is flat with a geologist. There is zero evidence that systemic racism does not exist. There is zero evidence that people of color are dehumanized and degraded by white people. But you're going to put your fingers in your ears and pretend that I'm the problem when you're the one who's ignorant and close minded and refuses to learn.
Fourth... But even if I am angry, so what? You'd be angry too if you dealt with racism and white people saying stupid things to you all the time! Dealing with racism is EXHAUSTING. Dealing with the stupid things that white people say is EXHAUSTING. If at times, I'm frustrated with your ignorance, don't get mad at me. EDUCATE YOURSELF! As Robin DiAngelo keeps saying, stop putting the burden of your ignorance on race onto black people.
By the way... Did you notice that in this exchange he also strongly implied that he can't be racist, because he finds tanner people attractive?
Again, I refer you to point 2 above.
7) The White Person Says "You Don't Know Me" Or "You're Making Assumptions"
Again, it's kind of sad that most white people always default into one of the few things on this list. On the one hand, when people say "You don't know me" or that I'm making assumptions about them, they're not wrong. If you're chatting about racism online and you don't know the person, then there is definitely some truth to that.
I may not know you as a person, but I know racism and white fragility when I see it!
I don't have to know everything about your personal life to know that you said or did something that was extremely offensive.
This is a just a not-so-clever pivot on the Good-Bad-Binary approach to white fragility. Because as long as I don't know every detail of their personal life, then I can't be right when I call out what is obviously a racist world view or a white fragility. It's lazy and stupid thinking, and it needs to stop.
Again, all of these things are designed to get white people off of the hook. As long as they can dismiss black people for whatever reason, they don't have to look at their own behavior and their possibly racist view points in various areas. They can say "No the real problem is the angry Negroes, not me." And then they can go back to their naive world of racial comfort where they don't have to examine themselves or take responsibility for the racism they put into the world - to say nothing to how their own behavior keeps racist structures in place.