I’ve been talking about how white people need to stop, over on Medium for a very long time, but I’ve been deliberate about posting on Medium.com because I get a lot more views there, and I wanted people specifically to understand why I am so angry at white folk.
Now let me be clear, I do not hate or dislike all white folk. My mother is white. (do you see how that sounds?) So hating white folk is not a possibility for me.
However, there is some shit y’all do that I am just tired of and I am not the only one, but I’m talking about it because I want to make it clear that it’s been said so y’all can stop saying no one told you so.
Black Folk Produce Thousands of Essays and Art Pieces You Have Access To For Free, So Buy Their Work
It’s really cool how many of you can call out the books you read but how many do you buy? And how many do you buy so you can use them as more than fodder that you can use on social media? Do you invite Black authors into your book club by insisting your friends and family read the books? See the art exhibits? are you sharing our work with the world?
Stop Quoting Dead Black Folk
For the love of the universe, stop quoting our dead folk when the majority of great Black thinkers, are people who were murdered by racist white folk, or by poverty and hunger. We don’t like it. You using the month of February to pepper our timelines with your favourite quotes means absolutely positively nothing. It’s shit. You are handing us a pile of shit and telling us to eat it, without understanding how offensive it is to see white people, en masse, quote Black folk. MLK was murdered by white people, so seeing white people quote him now just feels disingenuous.
Stop Pretending. Either Dive Into the Fight or Back Off
Back when the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement started, there were millions of “moms” all white women, who took over the conversation and refused to make room for BLM members, and who didn’t understand that the conversation wasn’t supposed to be about white women supporting Black women, it was supposed to be about Black women standing up for their sons. It was really frustrating and heartbreaking to watch all of these white women take the light off the Black women and their speeches, in favour of white women getting famous off the work of Black activists.
Some Conversations aren’t for White Folk to Have, They are for White Folk to Listen To
Sometimes, it’s okay to just say nothing. To retweet, to offer supplies and space, but not to speak. Sometimes it’s okay to just say “I hear you, here’s someone who can explain it better.” White folk have a nasty habit of jumping into a fight or a conversation without understanding the context of the conversation, which is often that white folk are the reason that we’re having the conversation in the first place.
Yes, you can ask questions, but no you can’t try to change our opinion with your thoughts, because whatever you think you could do better than Black folk, you’re wrong.
It is understandable for white people to want to help, and we appreciate it, but there are ways to help that are inclusive and inspire diverse conversation and connection, and ways that provide divide. Knowing when it’s your place is a gift but not everyone does, so ask. And be prepared to hear that it’s not your place. Be prepared to hear you aren’t welcome.
For Black, Brown, Indigenous and people of colour, white folk are a trigger. Is it your fault? Did you colonize more than half the earth? Absolutely not, but do you benefit from the fact that people who look like you did? Absolutely yes.
Knowing your place for people who want to “get in the fight and help,” can be difficult, and yeah you can ask your Black friend, but also make sure you aren’t “only” asking your one Black friend.
I didn’t have any Black friends or any friends who had any colour in their system until George Floyd died. I didn’t know I needed to have Black friends but once I found them everything changed, all these things that I’d been thinking my whole life suddenly made sense and I wasn’t alone anymore. Life is better with Black folk who know and understand, being there to show me the way and now I’m showing you because I can’t stand the thought of another February with every person I know sharing every Black tweet they can find over and over again.
If you really want to support Black folk this February, buy their books, buy their work, support independent artists, and show them that you care by opening your wallets as quickly and as easily as you’re willing to open your mouths.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall
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