For Whites Who Consider Being Allies But Find it Much too Tuff

6 Aug

Trigger Warning: Some language about sexual violence to follow.

The following post is a crunk public service announcement for our own post most racial times.

For the record, being a white ally means…

Not expecting your friends/colleagues of color to do the heavy lifting around your own privilege…

Not recentering the conversation back to yourself when difficult subjects come up…

Not asking people of color to be less angry so you can really listen. Child, please…

Not petulantly zeroing in on petty aspects of a person of color’s argument or analysis because it makes you feel uncomfortable or illuminates holes in your thinking. It’s really transparent…

Not bringing up the fact that your best friend/boo/adopted stepchild is black/brown/polka-dotted. Such “facts” are not get-out-of-jail free cards for saying stupid shit or generally being racist. You can have intimate relationships with people of color and still have fucked up race politics….

Not expecting/demanding cookies and milk because you are pursuing anti-racist activism. While we may be happy to work with you, you are doing what you’re supposed to do. Period. Point blank…

During conversations about race, the phrases “race card” and “oversensitive” don’t even enter into your mind, much less escape your lips. It’s never the right answer.

And, never forget, being a white ally means being less concerned with potentially being called racist and more concerned with actually perpetuating racism.

I’ll end this PSA with the wise words of the late, great poet, Pat Parker.

“For the white person who wants to know how to be my friend”

the first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black.

Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.

You should be able to dig Aretha,

but don’t play here every time i come over.

An if you decide to play Beethoven-don’t tell me

his life story. They make us take music appreciation too.

Eat soul food if you like it, but don’t expect me

to locate your restaurants

of cook it for you.

And if some Black person insults you,

mugs you, rapes your sister, rapes you,

rips your house or is just being an ass-

please do not apologize to me

for wanting to do them bodily harm.

It makes me wonder if you’re foolish.

And even if you really believe Blacks are better lovers than

whites-don’t tell me. I start thinking of charging stud fees.

In other words-if you really want to be my friend-don’t

make a labor of it. I’m lazy. Remember.

This was a crunk public service announcement. Carry on.

56 Responses to “For Whites Who Consider Being Allies But Find it Much too Tuff”

  1. Kalima Young August 6, 2012 at 9:55 AM #


  2. Kristin August 6, 2012 at 9:59 AM #

    Agreed. Well said. Wishing I had had these words when I was in high school.

  3. Sandra Lilith Cawthern August 6, 2012 at 10:00 AM #

    Thanks. Good to have on hand. Sharing.

  4. Peggy Jones August 6, 2012 at 10:51 AM #


  5. Alisha M.Gray (@ZenMamaPolitic) August 6, 2012 at 10:56 AM #

    OMG (Oh My Greatness)! Aren’t we a little Snippy About White Privilege This ‘Mawning’. Disclaimer: White Privilege folk…please do not automatically disallow the Colloquial connotation attached towards my use of the word ‘Mawning’. I meant to say that.

    And for you ‘Crunkmeana’…My new name for you. Your convo. is much apprecated. Wish we could have this discussion with all of our White friends & clear the air. Long way to go. Chuckle…’A Crunk PSA’ huh. Classic.

  6. Aaron Andersen August 6, 2012 at 11:43 AM #

    I saw this linked on Facebook. It’s a good reminder. And for anybody who thinks they can’t be a racist if they are in an interracial relationship, does that also mean I can’t be a sexist because I’m married to a woman? Because that would make things easier (you know, for me).

  7. Mary Olie August 6, 2012 at 2:01 PM #

    Poor white ally!These zany rules are too many!Just tell him to not bother.

    • Mary Olie August 6, 2012 at 2:02 PM #

      These … rules are too many!

  8. CaitieCat August 6, 2012 at 4:42 PM #

    That’s a hell of a good post, thanks. The poem is marvelous.

  9. M August 6, 2012 at 9:50 PM #

    Oh, snap.


  10. calle August 7, 2012 at 5:08 AM #

    Who the fuck plays Beethoven?

    • Angel H. August 12, 2012 at 4:51 PM #

      “Fur Elise” is the shit!

    • Vincent C. August 13, 2012 at 7:53 PM #


  11. smhlle August 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM #

    I definitely like a little poetry in my consciousness raising. Thank you.

    (Darn. The first time I typed “C.R. in my poetry”. So maybe there’s one more rule – “hey, liberal girl, don’t get all flustered when you talk to me.” Do you think so?)

  12. whiteladyblogger August 7, 2012 at 2:12 PM #


  13. K August 7, 2012 at 3:25 PM #

    Do you realize you sound like a fascist when you instruct people that certain thoughts should not enter their minds? I’ve got some of advice for you – if you want any allies of any kind, stop policing what people say and think.

    • Julian Real September 21, 2012 at 9:59 AM #

      @K. As a Jewish white gay male, I certainly don’t want to be that close with folks who think anti-Semitic or homophobic nonsense when they’re thinking about me and imagining what goes on in my life. And I don’t want to be around white folks and men who think in terms of racist and misogynist stereotypes, or who, when frustrated or angry at a woman of color, think to call her those really disgusting names that fly out of the minds AND mouths of far too many of us. That you think having such a sensibility, or putting forth such a request as the one above, makes someone “fascistic” only means, imo, you don’t get what the deal with fascism was and is. It’s not some abstract thing or liberal idea that applies to all forms of supposed “thought-control”. It’s part of an overall strategy for some groups who actually have institutionalised, entrenched power–often white ones–to oppress, terrorise, and destroy other groups of people: often those deemed “darker” or “more sinister” than the fascists. If you want any allies of any kind, I suggest you stop policing the expressed ideas of those you structurally oppress.

      • Julian Real September 21, 2012 at 10:35 AM #

        Also to K. I’m sorry for the last sentence of my comment, which assumes–quite wrongly–that you’re white. If I could edit my own comment, I’d redo it without the last sentence. I have no idea who you do or don’t structurally oppress and shouldn’t have presumed to know.

  14. MichaelEdits August 7, 2012 at 5:47 PM #

    I love tweeting this not just because it’s a great post, but because it’ll make my peeps wonder what color I am.

  15. Kwaku August 7, 2012 at 6:44 PM #

    Lol, love it.

  16. bintalshamsa August 7, 2012 at 11:06 PM #

    If you can’t handle it, you can always get the fuck out. No one cares whether or not YOU are there ally. Personally, I think that allies are usually not worth the bother. So, if you want to be an ally to people of color, get with the program or keep on stepping. Either way, we’ll be just fine.

    • K August 10, 2012 at 7:55 AM #


      Thank you for your thoughtful response. You sound like someone who would be a true joy to be around 🙂

      Interesting assumption you make – what makes you think I want to be an ally to POCs? I am a POC myself. I just disagree with this genre of blogging that lectures people on “how to be an ally”. And when the lecture includes what should and shouldn’t *enter your mind* and *escape your lips*, I’ll call out my POC brothers and sisters for sounding like fascists.

      • bisexualcyclist August 12, 2012 at 3:15 PM #

        Speaking as a white person: I don’t find these things to be policing at all. I happen to come from a country which was devastated by an invasive fascist regime. And yes: fascists do exert control through language.
        One privilege that white people like me have is the privilege of not recognizing that we have privilege. We use words like “race card” and “oversensitive” as means of reestablishing control, of redirecting blame from us to people of color. In Europe, the Nazis used language that not only redirected blame from people within the “status quo” (so-called “Aryans” with wealth and political power) but actively villainized European minorities and “deviants” (Jews, Roma/Sinti people, Poles and other Eastern Europeans of non-Germanic descent, people of color, queer people, the disabled, even socialists and avant-garde artists with words like “Degenerate”). Interestingly, American whites who blame American POC for their woes are also victims of “the system”: they are prevented from seeing what really does cause their woes and become perversely allies of that same system. Similarly, many of the Nazis were poorer and uneducated white Germans given fairytales of racial supremacy by puppet masters like Goebbels.
        So, who are the real fascists here?
        What sometimes upsets me is how unfriendly certain communities, like feminist communities, can be toward people who use the wrong language. Us feminists forget that many people who use the wrong words often aren’t doing so out of spite and the desire to oppress, but because they don’t have the privilege of knowing the lingo. As someone not very wealthy and who never took a Gender Studies class, even I felt isolated: an effective way of silencing a person is by criticizing the very way they talk, and it is even a tool of discrimination against, among others, immigrants, poor people, uneducated people and disabled people (who sometimes cannot physically speak, or speak in a “socially acceptable” manner). However, this is precisely why posts like this one are so useful. Because while exerting control over language can be used for evil, it can also be used for good. Provided that those of us with the “lingo” are not quick to disarm people without it and instead are willing to instruct.
        And what this post instructs is really extremely basic etiquette. It’s so basic, yet because I am not a person of color it took me a while to learn. And I’m STILL learning, because, although I’m quick to point out privileges I don’t have–male privilege, hetero and monosexual privilege, xenophobia and ablism (these being issues that affect me on a near-daily basis)–I’m slower at recognizing the privileges I DO have, like white privilege and cis privilege. Again, all of these privileges I listed, even the word ‘privilege’ itself, is part of a simplified grammar, but it has its uses, so we use them until better definitions emerge.

  17. Steph H August 8, 2012 at 6:46 PM #

    As someone who is trying to be a white ally, thank you.

  18. Jamila August 12, 2012 at 3:33 PM #

    Very sad that so many of us black are becoming increasingly racist. Almost similar to what Israel does to Palestine after what they went through with nazism. We humans, are sad ignorant animals that never learn with experience and history, never forgive and grow on hate to become the worse we can be.

    • Angel H. August 12, 2012 at 4:52 PM #

      I think it’s even sadder that so many Black people would rather ignore racism than to try to expose it for the ugly truth that it is.

      • Jamila August 12, 2012 at 5:37 PM #

        From my comment where did you read me ignoring racism? I believe in exposing racism, i stand up against it whenever I encounter racism. But you dont fight racism with more racism!

    • Deb Ewing September 4, 2012 at 1:42 PM #

      Thank you for speaking up…I have noticed, too, and I hate it, really hate it. I understand why it’s not okay for me (non-poc) to use the N-word, but DO NOT understand why it’s okay for black people to use it. It’s not okay. It’s not okay to call alkaline tide (that sleepy feeling you get after eating a big meal ) N*****itis…no amount of suffering and oppression doled out by anyone can condone this. Like any other stereotypes, there will be some truth in trends, but racism needs to be stamped out wherever it is found…like in my husband’s family, who are Punjabi, and who make fun of Punjabis who aren’t Muslim, or Indians who aren’t Punjabi…it’s crazy-making!

      • Megan September 4, 2012 at 4:41 PM #

        The N word…that’s very much a human thing, not just a Black thing. Just like racism isn’t just a White thing.

        Queer, Jesus Freak, Jarhead, Bitch…all those words started as derrogatory and have been adopted by the groups that used to be insulted by them. It’s a cultural phenomenon that no group is exempt from.

        The REAL question is, why do so many of us choose to see problems as race specific and deny our shared humanity.

  19. Megan August 12, 2012 at 9:33 PM #

    This…this is so hard. I was just talking with a long-time friend of mine about how hard it is to make real, genuine friends after 30…in general. Friends of another race? Unless they’ve been conditioned to interracial/intercultural friendship, I just don’t know.

    I have White friends I’ve known since I was 8. They know me as a person before anything else. I’ve also met new White friends later in life and let me tell you, they’re “special” people in general. They are not the norm for their race and I think that’s the only way it can work…even then, I have to do some explaining of race related things from time to time because they’ve never had friends with people of other races. It really is a skill that is best learned early on. And yes, I have to initiate the explaining because while expression is a hallmark of Black culture, sweeping things under the rug is a bastion of White.

    What I think needs to be acknowledged is that just as we have certain cultural norms, so do they. A lot of the slights we see as race related are simply two different “styles” of friendship colliding. Black women are MASTERS at friendship…we have to be. We live in a world where the social institution of marriage is threatened so we learn young, very young, that there might not be a man around. We learn to value women around us. White women (overall) aren’t taught those lessons as girls. That’s why Sex and the City was so revolutionary to them. None of this is an excuse for being racially insensitive or ignorant, but coming together as friends as adults…there are many speed bumps on both sides to be acknowledged.

    • Deb Ewing September 4, 2012 at 1:44 PM #

      THANK YOU. This is the most observant thing I have read all day: “What I think needs to be acknowledged is that just as we have certain cultural norms, so do they. A lot of the slights we see as race related are simply two different “styles” of friendship colliding. ” It totally makes sense, and if you happen to need a thesis for a Pee-Haich-Dee, I think that would be a great one.

      • Megan September 4, 2012 at 4:37 PM #

        Ha…I’d love to study that one day. It’d be a TON of work though. There isn’t much attention paid to adult friendship…let alone female.

  20. skyride August 13, 2012 at 5:26 AM #

    Hm, I was looking for tips on how to eliminate racism. Oh well…

  21. skyride August 13, 2012 at 5:34 AM #

    No but really: in my hippy-dippy daydream I like to envision a world in which racism cannot exist because race does not exist. Since, really– it doesn’t exist. The thing about social constructions is their deconstructability. So without ignoring, minimizing, or trivializing the realities of people’s day-to-day existence within our current reality, can we still envision and move towards a reality void of race/racial categories? It is really demoralizing to experience white privilege (I’m not being facetious, dude), but it is far more demoralizing to be beat over the head with it even when one’s trying to negate it. Sort of a “roll this bolder up that hill, sucker” situation, Sisyphus-style. Le sigh.

    • crunktastic August 13, 2012 at 6:20 AM #

      How to eliminate racism– for starters, how about white people stop being racist.

      No but really.

      What I hate about this deconstruction argument is that it fails to take into account that race and racism do not merely exist because the categories exist. There are whole power structures that have been created to buttress those categories. Also it assumes that the fact that race is a social construction means it doesn’t actually exist. Socially constructed categories do come to “exist” and to have real material impacts on the world. And in some ways if you take Barbara J. Fields classic argument on this point, actually the hierarchies were created and then racial ideologies were created to justify those hierarchies. What does this mean? Discourse is only one part of this challenge, and it is not even the main issue. All that the discursive shift will mean is that we won’t have the language to name the racial roots of issues like gentrification, the Prison Industrial Complex, the education achievement gap, etc. We’ll come to believe that the fact that the folks on the bottom all tend to have more melanin is merely incidental to other larger problems.

      Lots of white pomo types think that if we just talk about race differently, racism will go away. Um, B.S. What I hear when y’all say this is — “we are tired of all you POC pointing out to us how terrible white privilege is. We want to be over it already. We’re not bad; we’re not racist. Show us how to fix it.” Um, I hope you see the problems here. I guess it’s so hard being white. *SIDE EYE*

      So whatever. I’m sure white folks are demoralized by racism. But you aren’t disenfranchised by it. Critical difference. I’m also sure that of the 99 race problems Black and Brown folks have, white demoralization is the least of those problems.

      • skyride August 13, 2012 at 8:04 AM #

        "What I hear when y'all say is this"– and then you put words in my mouth. Let's back up a second.

        I'm not talking about a discourse shift.

        I'm talking about an entire, conscious sociocultural reformation– "discourse" and all. Admittedly, a true deconstruction would only succeed if people were willing to part with their racial identities– which I'll hazard a guess you're not willing to do. Most people aren't.

        The argument has been made plenty that "race is real", but beyond [flimsy] evidence for certain health problems associated with certain "races", the actual impact of race as it affects our everyday reality is mostly social. I disagree that racial ideologies were created to justify power structures. I subscribe to the notion that they likely manifested in conjunction with one another (among other things, e.g. gender power constructs); apparently you missed the part where I said "without ignoring, minimizing, or trivializing people's everyday realities". Changing a name will not close the "achievement" gap, solve PIC issues, or anything else.

        I do believe if we talk about race differently, conceptually race will become insolvent. But I hope the very same thing for gender. I acknowledge and celebrate diversity in humanity, but where those differences are used to divide and exclude, I can't tolerate. So anyway, plz stop about discursive shift. Discursive shift = halfassed excuse

        I appreciate your reply… Though not your hatred. It's insipid and tangible. This is how I feel when I'm confronted by systems (and persons) who hate me because of my "sex" (or lack thereof) or sexual orientation. I lash out in fury, I'm so sick of their bullshit arguments and scientific/legal/political/religious justifications of why I'm a lesser human being. But something clicked for me when I realized that I was lashing out at people who were in fact trying include, rather than exclude; they don't want to change me, they just want to find some mutual understanding. Is there a way you can get your point across without your dripping sarcasm and *SIDE EYE*? If you want me to feel subhuman, you succeeded.

        "How about white people stop being racist." How about everybody. Do you deny your own racism? As for me, I don't (can't). It's one of those master's-tools-can't-dismantle-master's-house kinda things, but we all do it, even the most well-intentioned feminist.

        p.s. I wasn't trying to play a one-up game; most of the problems I experience with racism are things like I'm given a job because I'm white, or I have to pay a higher entrance fee because I'm white. Yup, woe is me. I forfeit, you win that game dude.

      • crunktastic August 13, 2012 at 9:36 AM #

        A.) You have a lot of personal work to do around this. So for the record, I’m not going to do your emotional labor for you, which means that I am unmoved by your declarations of feeling subhuman and I take no responsibility for this obvious attempt to try to emotionally manipulate the situation. Check yourself.

        B.) There are lots of accounts of how racial ideologies came to be. I mentioned Fields as just one example. There are some other accounts that I find more compelling, too, but all of those accounts are skeptical about discourse. So what I was trying to suggest is that while I concede that race is indeed a social construct, and hence a biological fiction, when white folks start saying “it isn’t real,” I need you to qualify what you mean. I don’t believe in essentialist constructs of race, especially biological ones. But I think that when white folks realize “race isn’t real,” then they seem to think that this is the truth that will save us all. I beg to differ.

        C.) It is unclear to me what you want to happen in this convo. You don’t want to talk discursive shifts, but you haven’t talked material reality. And it seems like you aren’t ready for a real convo about white privilege, because every time the specter of that convo comes up you start talking about how it makes you feel.

        D.) The undergirding feature of racism in a Western context is white supremacy. So yes, those who benefit from white privilege should stop being racist.

        E.) I’m done. You want the POC in this space to figure some shit out for you, which really means you want us to do both the intellectual and emotional labor around racism, and to do it in a way that makes you feel good while it happens. None of that is going to happen, Sir. Not from the CFs.


      • skyride August 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM #

        Hm, admittedly I do find these kinds of discussion emotional, though I don’t feel sorry for expressing my emotions in an honest way. While I think I could benefit a whole lot from conversations with people of different perspectives, I don’t try to give the impression I want them to “do” my “emotional work” for me. Perhaps it’s coming from a background in talk therapy, but I tend to find it helps people both understand themselves and come to mutual understanding when they’re up front and honest about their own feelings, and not dismissive of those of others.

        You seem to intentionally overlook the things we agree on in order to “win” the conversation– I’m not trying to say that my ideas are better than yours. Rather, I actually think my ideas are incomplete at best.

        These conversations always seem to go better in real life– at least they usually don’t end in a self-righteous “I’m done”. But anyway, nice blog, and if I have questions/perspectives, I guess I’ll take them elsewhere.

        And don’t call me Sir. I’m not a knight.

      • crunktastic August 15, 2012 at 7:18 AM #

        Ran across this great review essay (book review of 3 new books out) today on some of the new scholarship on how we talk about race. It really is an excellent read, and it makes some of the connections between the constructivist position and the materialist position better than I have here. It is one of the most informative essays on new race scholarship I’ve ever read.

      • skyride August 15, 2012 at 8:15 AM #

        Anne F-S is one of my heroes for her work on biological sex!

        Thanks for connecting me with this.

      • Aaron Andersen August 13, 2012 at 11:35 PM #


        I’m saying this as a privileged white guy, who is trying to be an ally, who is also genuinely sympathetic to other privileged people who fuck up while trying to be allies… Please go back to the original post and read the first three points. I don’t know if you noticed, but you’re basically pulling out the tone argument, which is not ever going to help you learn and grow.

        I believe you that you want to learn, just like I want to learn, and so I’ll offer two things that have helped me learn.

        (1) Try really hard to listen without getting defensive. Take a day before replying if need be. Because when we react defensively, we pull out whatever weapons we have, unconsciously, including any privilege we have over the person we’re reacting too. And we aren’t really listening anymore when we’re defensive, of course. And if we’re not listening, we sure as shit aren’t being any kind of ally.

        (2) Don’t walk into a person’s house saying you want to be their ally and supporter and then shit on their carpet. A blog is the blog owner’s space, and you and I have to respect that and respect the blog owner’s house rules to enjoy any kind of productive conversation here. You must think you might have something to learn here, or you wouldn’t still be commenting, right? So don’t shit on the carpet.

    • LiturgyGeek August 16, 2012 at 10:19 AM #

      So, you’re aware of how privileged it is to say, “Race doesn’t exist,” right? Even if you couch it in academic language and whatnot.

      One of the privileges of being White is to both believe this and to have the audacity to say this. Every person of color I know KNOWS this isn’t true – both because of the daily indignities they suffer simply for being born Brown or Black, and because of the systemic racism and oppression that also creates barriers in their ability to live as fully and freely as we White people do (and we largely take for granted).

      I, too, have hippie daydreams of the ontological issues of race not existing (or mattering in ways that divide and oppress). But I live in the real world, where race both exists and matters. If you want to get to your Promised Land of “Race Not Existing” (and I am not sure I share your vision of this as an ideal), pie-in-the-sky theology is not going to get you there. Living in the real world and doing the hard work of dismantling racism is the only way to get there.

      And maybe, along the way, you’ll learn that to a lot of people, race not only “exists” but it matters to people. And it matters to them/us not just in bad ways, but also in good, life-affirming, soul-lifting ones.

      • skyride August 16, 2012 at 7:17 PM #

        Biological race doesn’t exist.

        It’s not a privilege to state it, just a fact.

        Sociocultural “races”, of course, exist. You, too, seemed to have ignored the sentence where I say, “without ignoring people’s daily realities.”

      • Aaron Andersen August 16, 2012 at 7:32 PM #

        Sorry, but “without ignoring people’s realities” sounds like a brush off, a minimization, even if it is not intended as such. It pretends not to ignore a situation, but then basically does just that. It’s a privilege to make everything academic, and minimize the hard reality, because to those of with privilege, we can feel good without any real sacrifice when we approach it academically, and acknowledge, rather than work to change.

      • LiturgyGeek August 17, 2012 at 8:18 AM #

        Skyride, “sociocultural races” are precisely what we deal with in “people’s daily realities.” Or, if we are White, it’s what we have the privilege of ignoring, or pretending that our race makes no difference in how we are treated by others. And that’s why I say it’s an incredibly privileged statement to say that “Race doesn’t exist.” This post is trying to tell us about people’s daily realities, and your response feels more and more like some pseudo-academic way to shit on those realities.

        Further, I’m not altogether sure that your vision of “a reality void of race/racial categories” is something that most people share. Many of us like our race/racial categories, even if we aren’t always proud of all that our ancestors did. The most I feel I can affirm at this point in my life is seeking to envision and enflesh a reality void of the oppressions and indignities of race/racial categories, not their elimination.

  22. Vincent C. August 13, 2012 at 7:50 PM #

    Very eloquent. But methinks thou art the one to get over it.

    • Vincent C. August 13, 2012 at 8:02 PM #

      So much language…so much jockeying for rhetorical position. All of it pompous bullshit. You are the wellspring of your own anger and misery. Stop talking and be.

  23. skat August 24, 2012 at 2:27 PM #

    if the idea of this post was to get someone to consider being an ally, it missed the mark. you make it sound way too tough. tuff. more like impossible. almost like you don’t want no white allys.

  24. deb Ewing August 28, 2012 at 5:04 PM #

    This is awesome, and awesomely succinct. I feel I would trust your kneejerk reaction to most things. Can you please check for me over at and see if YOU think he’s a racist ho, because I do. However, as he has pointed out to me, I am “white” (we shall not parse my actual genetics or cultural standing for the purposes of this argument) and either White Apologist or not White Apologist and therefore he disregards my comments, and posts defensive (actually defensive, as opposed to passive-aggressive) rebuttals to things that his fan base cannot see I’ve said. Yeah, I’m marginalized, hurt, and angry (and not succinct)…but am I reading him wrong? Since he won’t answer, I want to know. Thanks for being, whether you decide to answer my question or not.

  25. deb Ewing August 28, 2012 at 5:21 PM #

    So…my question is…actually, first let me apologize for being White (and yes, that is in a slightly sarcastic tone, because it’s stupid, and yet anything I say is going to be weighed by the perspective that everyone else thinks I have, regardless of my actual perspective.) My question is this: how does whiteness factor into societies which do not have a white majority? When the majority in the US shifts, because it practically has already, how will that affect the discourse? I’m not trying to be a “white ally.” I am just trying to get along in the world, as I assume you are, too, and I am genuinely surprised every time racist overtones are brought into a conversation.

    • Megan September 4, 2012 at 4:55 PM #

      I’ve only been to a couple, but in countries (like in the Caribbean), the experience Whiteness highlights the inadequacy of the term “minority”…sometimes it’s not just about numbers (like women in the US…tons of us…still at a power disadvantage).

      Take…say…Haiti. Very few Whites, but light skin and straight hair translates to perceptions of beauty and high social class…now…that’s because of the country’s colonial experience where Whiteness used to embody overt oppressive power, so the social power that still exists is the grand child of that.

      That’s not to say that being the only White guy in the middle of Watts wouldn’t be a problem, but in most situations around the world, Whiteness has already been accepted as socially superior, so there are advantages/protections. My brother experiences the reverse in Japan as a Black man. He’s Black (which is looked down on because of African influx into the country) but also American (which is seen as as a superior nation), so he gets a weird mix of both. I’ve also known White men living as minorities in Asian countries that experience both discrimination and privilege depending on the situation. Race and privilege are very fluid, complex things.

      I personally don’t like the term “White Ally” because it evokes a war…not saying racism isn’t a silent war, but terminology shapes how people behave going forward. “White Apologist” doesn’t mean one is apologizing for anything (check out the field of apologetics), but unfortunately, people hear it that way. I prefer “anti-racist” because it pits the person against the actual problem and on no particular racial “side”.

  26. Jen September 16, 2012 at 9:16 AM #

    Thanks for taking the time to do a PSA that does the heavy lifting around my privilege. I’m not sure I’d label myself as an ally, because the term implies that trying to be a considerate human being is somehow something out of the ordinary deserving a badge, but as a white girl very new to the US and trying to wrap my head around the rules of a mind-bogglingly segregated society [I’m from somewhere very multicultural and multiracial and very geographically blended], I appreciate all the cultural education I can get.

    In case anyone is in the mood for a bit more ‘heavy lifting’ or would just enjoy telling me what to do:

    Should I look for a place to live walking distance from work and thus in a neighbourhood that happens to be both predominantly black and also impoverished, or somehow get together the money to purchase – or anyway, lease – a car, in order to commute from a predominantly white neighbourhood further away? I think I can [probably, maybe] scrape together the money for that. Going along with segregation feels like accepting all the racism, but maybe I’m just clueless?

    I’ve noticed how excessively polite people tend to be, which makes me wonder if my presence is involuntarily oppressive, or if it’s just more like the automatic polite manners that my fellow Canadians and I tend towards.

    Then there’s all the people telling me it’s not safe to go out at night around here. I know the fear-mongering is over-exaggerated, and I feel resistant to that because I know that irrational fear is at the root of things like the Trayvon Martin tragedy. Since I’m currently in temporary accommodations next to work, I have walked around alone at night to get groceries, and can handle turning a ‘what’s up?’ comment from the local drug dealer into a totally polite and friendly conversation. Not as happy about the various “hey baby” comments. I don’t usually get much grief for walking while female partly because I’m really big & tall, but standing out like a sore thumb kind of cancels that out, and having to dress nice for work wouldn’t help.

    Then there’s the whole gentrification issue. We’ve got that where I come from. Those politics I understand.

    So… to self-segregate or not? Any comments, critiques or suggestions?


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