Dear White people please stop telling me…

Published January 8, 2014 by hrhdana

Dear White people,

Hello how are you today? I really want to speak about something that is on my mind and weighing heavily on my heart. I hope you won’t mind me addressing you as a group. I am aware that you are not all the same. Language can be restricting at times and I hope that stating my intention NOT to offend will be enough to soothe those of you miffed at the all encompassing address on this post. This letter is really for, “the White people who don’t want to be racist and therefore claim not to see race and that we are all the same, human.” But you see, that does get wordy, huh?

I realize that this race stuff is difficult. Trying to understand things that we don’t live is challenging. I can not intuitively imagine all of the challenges that someone in a wheelchair faces. I can sit and listen to them. I can spend time with them but even then I do not truly know what it is like to not be able to just get up and walk. I have to remember to listen when they speak. I have to remember to check my privilege and respect and acknowledge their experiences. Its not my place to tell them how to feel or how to interact with the segment of the world that does not need a wheelchair. It is not my place to speak FOR them even if I do so from a place of advocacy and support.

I use this example because I can imagine, and I’ve had white friends and family tell me how challenging it is to them to have the race conversations. I can empathize with how challenging it is to set aside privilege and accept a reality that I do not live because I have to do it too. (See above example) I know that you mean well when you say that you don’t see race. I know that your heart is bristling with empathy when you implore people to accept that we are all one race, the human race. I am respectfully asking you to stop.

Saying that we are all the same and that you do not see race invalidates MY experiences with race in this country. Saying that race doesn’t matter is a lie. I am a Black woman every single day of my life and I can tell you that racism is alive and well. I can tell you that I have experiences on a daily basis where I am not allowed to forget that I am a BLACK woman.  Do I want to move past these experiences? Absolutely! But I can not until they stop happening. I can heal from or ignore one interaction. I can not heal from ongoing and systemic interactions.

I’m not going to list all the numbers here but I will tell you that non-White people are more likely to be profiled, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be incarcerated, less likely to be hired, less likely to be accepted to universities…etc etc etc. This is REAL! This is our life! These experiences cause pain. These experiences require healing. It matters what color we are. We can’t claim unity with one race, the human race when we are constantly facing the fallacy of these premises. It’s belittling to my experiences to implore me to, “stop seeing race,” or to stop identifying my experiences with racism as such. Are you following me?

Life IS different when you are not White and if you aren’t willing to accept that truth then you aren’t doing the work of dismantling racism. You are contributing to it by refusing to HEAR and ACCEPT my experiences in the world we live in. Not the world we all wished that we lived in but the world that we ACTUALLY live in.

Thank you for listening.

Dana

12 comments on “Dear White people please stop telling me…

  • “I know that you mean well when you say that you don’t see race. I know that your heart is bristling with empathy when you implore people to accept that we are all one race, the human race. I am respectfully asking you to stop.”

    yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    yes
    yes
    yes

    • Please stop erasing MY experiences in favor of YOUR comfort. I edited that out and put it back in and edited it out FOUR times. LOL

      And look how I still managed to say it. 😉

  • I like the post. It amplifies my thoughts on how certain white people act like I must have a chip on my shoulder or I need to just get over it but yet they don’t know my story .

  • I thought it was impossible to fall in love with a person’s wag of thinking but I guess not, well put, well said & I hope people take a lot from this

  • Applause, applause, applause!!!!!!! Say it, Dana…as yet another “white icon” throws the “N” word around like confetti on New Year’s. This time, “as a term of endearment towards her ‘white’ son.” Mind you, she also has African-American adopted children. Meh :/ (Madonna) Please let it start to sink in and resonate…empathy from you, the privileged, is impossible!

    But your willingness to be respectful towards something you will never directly understand, being deliberately mindful and sensitive towards our experience with an institution that is alive and well (despite your apathy and disillusionment towards it), is REQUIRED for all of us to collaborate on the dismantling of racism and its nefarious attributes. We need a societal NOVATURIENT shift on this issue, like 20 years ago!

  • Now it’s alive because u let it…. You give power to haters and they will hate no matter what you look like…. Feeling sorry for yourself is never going to make things better… I’m a white man and I STILL see people as people… I have Indians, Black’s, and Spanish in my family yet I don’t reap any benifits like YOU…. I’m tired of the whining…. You have more opportunity’s than you know you just choose to call out a race showing you have NO sense of morals or respect… So you have put yourself in the position of being racist…. I don’t hate on anyone just whiners like YOU.

  • I am a white person of mixed blood, and I think that for white folks to say that they “don’t see race” is not only a lie, but a way to avoid dialogue on the subject. It is uncomfortable for one on the privileged side of any divide to listen and not be defensive, but it has to be done. The persons who make that claim are well-intentioned, but they are fooling themselves, and that prevents honest dialogue. Thank you for letting me offer up my “two-cent’s worth.”

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