So listen… I shared an article about a black woman who tweeted that she felt unsafe being in a Cracker Barrel while surrounded by white people. Well… her actual tweet was the following:
White people were less than enthused… Some dude who gets off on torturing people who don’t think like him sent her tweet to a “right-wing outrage machine” called “Twitchy.” And within a short period of time, Ijeoma Oluo’s Twitter feed and her Facebook inbox were both filled with death threats, rape threats, and some of the grossest, most disgustingly racist crap you have ever seen. She wrote about her experience HERE (as well as Facebook’s complicity in her continued abuse). If you haven’t read it yet, you probably should. It’s really good.
When I shared the article, I was informed by many of my Facebook friends that the woman who wrote it was just as racist as the people responding to her. Yes… You’ve got that right–People who wrote things like “Why are you in America? Go back to your third world rat hole ..ya racist witch” and “Too bad your mother polluted her bloodline, making you only half human” shouldn’t have written those mean things… But Ijeoma Oluo was ALSO guilty because she shouldn’t have tweeted her “racist” tweet about not feeling particularly safe in an all-white space… In a place called Cracker Barrel…A place that was found guilty of discriminatory practices against People Of Color… While driving through a small town in a red state. They’re BOTH guilty.
Now… Nothing I write here is going to explain this as well as Ijeoma Oluo’s own words, so here is a video she posted responding to the tidal wave of hatred and White Fragility she has received. Here’s that…
Just in case you don’t watch the video (PLEASE DO WATCH THE VIDEO), here is a quote from it where she responds to the criticism where people say that if she had made this quote about black people instead of white people, it WOULD be racist. She agrees… Here is why:
“It would be racist because you don’t live in a country that systemically oppresses white people. You don’t live in a country where people with white-sounding names are four times LESS likely to be call for an interview. You don’t live in a country where the average white household has ONE FOURTEENTH the net worth of average black household. You don’t live in a country where white people can’t call the cops for help without being shot in front of their children. You don’t live in a country where white children are four times more likely to be suspended from school than black children. You don’t live in a country where doctors think that white patients don’t feel pain the same way that black patients do. You don’t live in a country with a history of slavery of white people (and I swear to God, if anyone brings up the Irish, I will lose my shit, because its completely different). You don’t live in a country where flags of those who fought to keep you enslaved still fly from state capitals and off the back of trucks. You don’t live in a country where white people have to beg and plead for their lives to MATTER, so that when their twelve year old child is killed for holding a toy gun, they don’t hear cops saying ‘That was no child.’
You live in a country where the OPPOSITE is true…
But if you feel like it’s the same thing… You think that you saying–as someone who has had the power of whiteness your entire life–If you’re saying it’s the same for YOU to be uncomfortable around ME as it is for ME to be uncomfortable around YOU, you know NOTHING. And you don’t WANT to know.”
There is so much more, and it’s all really good. One more amazing quote…
“I do not owe white America the benefit of the doubt. And if you don’t like that truth–that People Of Color have every reason to be scared around white people–CHANGE THAT TRUTH. Don’t silence the truth.” ~ Ijeoma Oluo
Because that’s really what all this white outrage [to it being “okay” for People Of Color being able to voice their unsafe feelings around white people] is all about: Silencing the truth. It’s hidden under the guise of “reverse racism.” It’s the same reason white people get so upset when the hear a Person Of Color “get” to say the N-word. “They get to do it… Why can’t I? I’m being oppressed!!” And it’s the same beating, fragile heart of white nonsense like “The War On Christmas.” It’s the reason so many people identified with the post I wrote called “When You’re Accustomed To Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression.” And it’s the same sort of fragility that leads to thousands of white people claiming a beautiful ad like this one is “racist.”
So, I’m not going to solve all of the confusion and misunderstanding around the pure BS that is “reverse racism,” and how it’s impossible for white people in this country to experience racism (though Ijeoma’s video above will go a long way to understanding that). I DID–as I listened to her talk about all the reasons People Of Color have to be afraid of white people–start thinking about WHY it is that white people are so afraid of black people. White people have the power in this country. That is the reality. There is a very long history in this country of powerful forces at work attempting to make white people a scared as possible of black folks (if you haven’t watched “13th” on Netflix yet, you definitely need to). And most white folks would probably tell you that demonization of blackness is a thing of the past. Well, it’s not…
Just last week, an Indiana police officer was shot and killed while responding to a car accident. A car had overturned, and as Lt. Aaron Allan hurried to help out, he was shot by a man inside the car. He was rushed to the hospital, and died there from his injuries. The man who shot him was arrested and taken in ALIVE (so that should give you more than a little hint as to the color of the shooter’s skin). Within hours of this story breaking, the shooter’s name (Jason Brown) had been released. Shortly after that, multiple news outlets (using the bare minimum of investigative skills) found pictures of Brown. Among the pictures they found was this one from Jason Brown’s Instagram account:
The next day, when the nation’s most successful cable “news” organization (Fox”News”) did their story about the shooting (long after the shooter’s name had been released and this picture was making the rounds on social media), they did not have ONE PICTURE of the man who had taken the officer’s life. Imagine, for a moment, if there had been a picture like this of a black man who had just killed a police officer acting heroically. Just IMAGINE if the shooter had had a “Muslim-sounding” name and a picture like this. The picture of a brown-skinned man holding guns would have been the lead story. But a dangerous white man does not fit their narrative. Instead, they just referred to him in the story as “Brown.” You are being fed stories that make you scared of black skin. There are billion dollar corporations who are trying very hard to push a narrative of “Fear Black People.” The huge money and influence of the NRA said NOTHING when Philando Castile was murdered for simply telling a police officer that he was legally carrying a gun in his car. And then the cop who killed him was found Not Guilty.
These are the reasons why People Of Color saying they are scared around white people is not “racism.” It’s the TRUTH. And as Ijeoma Oluo said, “It’s the truth [we] deserve.
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