Let’s Discard the Notion
Unlearn these ideas to commit to anti-racism without stressing out your Black friends
When I started writing about racism and anti-racism on Medium, this quickly became one of my most popular articles. I’ll let it speak for itself. Thanks for reading,
Let’s Discard the Notion
Let’s discard the notion that when Black people tell white people to Google stuff about racism before asking them, they are being unhelpful or shutting down the conversation.
NO! We are simply asking you to do some work as a basis for a more informed conversation about race, racism and anti-racism. The same way you Google your symptoms before you see your doctor, see if resources already exist before putting your Black friends through more pain.
Let’s discard the notion that just because you’re only now learning of the horror of racism, it’s something to be picked over and discussed with your Black friends as you begin to unlearn long-held assumptions.
NO! We ingested that trauma with our mother’s milk, have lived it for decades, and don’t need to rehash the pain to convince you that it is wrong or show you how bad it is. WE already know so it’s up to you white people to do that work.
Let’s discard the notion that your need for information trumps Black people’s need for self-care.
NO! Sometimes it’s too much and BIPOC need to prioritize their mental and emotional health. Check out your white friends who are already doing the work, or do some more Googling and reading.
Let’s discard the notion that there’s one right way — or one white way — to dismantle white supremacy.
NO! No revolution is quiet and peaceful. As Rep. John Lewis said, it’s time to make good trouble, and sometimes that means protesting, being vocal, being noisy, being in your face, and most of all, never giving up.
Let’s discard the notion that your one Black friend or colleague speaks for all Black people.
NO! BIPOC people are not a monolith. While we have many shared experiences, we have many individual ones. So what’s true for one may not be true for all.
Let’s discard the notion that when we say Black Lives Matter, we mean only Black Lives Matter.
NO! We mean Black Lives Matter too. We mean all lives won’t matter till Black Lives Matter. We mean stop the microaggressions, stop the discrimination, stop the bigotry, stop the inequity, and stop killing us, FFS.
Let’s discard the notion that when we say dismantle white supremacy, it means Black and BIPOC hate all white people.
NO! We hate racists and perpetrators of inequity. If you are one of the “good white folks”, as Marley K. says, you have nothing to worry about. If you are actively anti-racist, you have nothing to worry about, even if you make the occasional mistake.
Let’s discard the notion that equity for BIPOC means we’re taking something away from white people.
NO! We’re asking for what’s fair and just in countries that were built out of the profits of our enforced labor.
Let’s discard the notion that white privilege is the purview of rich and prominent white folks, and only them.
NO! It’s about not facing discrimination because of your skin color. Not being followed around stores. Not receiving sub-standard schooling, redlined housing. Not fearing death if you interact with the police. If your skin is white, you have that privilege.
Let’s discard the notion that Black people’s character is enough reason for their death at the hands of the police.
NO! Afford Black people the same grace that white people get.
Why does a Black person’s history taint the whole race, while a white criminal is a lone wolf?
Why is a Black person’s historical evidence of bad character that justifies his death while a white person’s history is evidence of mental illness.
Why do Black suspects die while white criminals get Burger King?
See the problem? We need equity in this, and in everything.
Let’s discard the notion that white fragility and tears are more important than Black people’s pain.
NO! If you are a white person committed to anti-racism, accept that it’s going to get uncomfortable and you won’t like everything you hear.
Let’s discard the notion that your white discomfort with Black people speaking their truth as they see fit is enough reason for them to stop and massage their message to make you feel better.
NO! We have been silent for too long, and doing it your way has obviously not worked. Now it’s time for BIPOC to be more vocal, to share more, to amplify messages from non-traditional sources, so that nobody has an excuse for not knowing what’s happening, how we feel, or what to do about it.
Let’s discard the notion that dismantling racism is primarily a Black concern.
“Racism is not mine, it’s yours, and it’s not called “help” when it’s your mess we’re cleaning.”
Hear me now — if you’re a committed anti-racist, discard all of those notions, then do the work.
© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2020.