Reality check, these are not normal times. The world is sick and dying. The economy is weak. The leader of the free world is an idiot, and because of the nature of social media, we are exposed to every single moment of this travesty. Add on top of that the compounding realization that black bodies are at risk by simply existing and the understanding that anger is not a choice but outrage requires a strategy, and the times begin to feel heavy. It’s safe to say, we’re all a bit overwhelmed. It's safer to say that your black friends are more overwhelmed than anyone else and not for the reasons that you might think.
One of the privileges of being privileged-and-black is that I am able to be an advocate for my community in spaces that need it and seldom have an authentic voice. The same access also means that in times of crisis and white guilt, I am the sole carrier of white tears. The internet has shamed white people and their influencers to post quotes and videos, to march and scream and most uncomfortably... reach out to their black friends and “check-in”. This idea is a noble one and one championed by many black advocates, but it's one that personally feels exhausting.
Hearing from white people in a time of crisis, specifically about a crisis that doesn’t affect my body but does affect my demographics, feels performative. It feels like I'm being given the power of absolution by existing in a void. By posting their graphics about black lives and reaching out to their black friend - just one - white people not only wipe away their angst and their guilt, they also publicize and force witness to their superiority over other trash-ass-white-people. What a time to be alive.
To be clear, I’m not trying to shame those who have reached out to me. The majority of the white people who I’ve talked to are people who I talk to either way, and who I’ve had frank and open conversations with about race. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the friend from high school who I haven’t spoken to in 4 years who decided to “check-in”. I’m talking about my ex-boyfriend who called to say he never realized what I was going through and that he was "sorry" if he didn’t do better. I’m talking about the people old enough to be my parents, messaging me on Facebook asking what they can do to help, and if I need anything. I am not a charity case. And I am not a Priest. I do not need a handout and I can not save your soul. In fact, the sheer notion that now is the time for white people to become allies is one that I fundamentally disagree with.
HEAR ME OUT. Excuse the metaphor.
In my humble opinion, people who scream about arsonists while my house is on fire are nothing more than obnoxious observers. Where were y’all when I told you last year that there was a rise in this crime and that I feared for my life? Where were you when I showed you the letter threatening my house? Where was all this righteous-indignation and twitter-tenacity when I told you that I smelled gas and that I was afraid to light a match? Silent. So now that I'm on fire and my house is burnt down, do not come over here with your false pretense and your guilt, hoping that being the loudest person will make up for your lack of action. Advocacy and allyship are not a standardized test. You can not cram for them. If you weren’t saying shit before, don't say shit now. Why? Because I don’t believe you. I don’t trust you. And, more importantly, I don’t know you.
Relationships are built off of trust. If I don’t trust your pretext then I don’t trust you. If I don’t trust you, how can we have a relationship? Would you a date a dude who only said he loved you after his brother ran you over with a car? No.
I’m not saying that it’s too late to be great. I would never shame someone for growing - no matter when it happened. What I AM saying is that I am not your entry point. I am not a teacher. I am a person, not a cause. I have my own baggage and trauma with the world. I am physically unable to hold space for this particular type of bullshit. My hands are full. I can't blindly accept new love out of desperation. I would rather die than be saved by an imposter. This may make me unpopular amongst activists, but the great thing about agency is that my truth does not negate anyone else's. I am unable, yet perhaps someone else is. Go find them.
So for all the white girls getting their riot outfits together and sliding into their Dr. Martens to march with a Starbucks cup and a glitter sign. I can’t. And to all the frat boys who want to get drunk at 9 AM and break windows because they played basketball with a black guy in high school. I can’t. And to all the Baby Boomers who need me to teach them on how to be better... I LITERALLY can not. Please, keep that shit over there.
As for me and my house, we good.