I wrote this post yesterday called “Dear White People Feeling Oppressed…” I’ve been writing about issues that affect the Black, or mixed-race community for so long now, that I neglected all the other ways that humans can be oppressed. We as colored or marginalized folk tend to think “in our lane,” and we often – when traumatized – think that no one in the world can understand.
We, as a community, need to get passed that. I don’t have anyone to help me regulate these emotions, and there’s so much of it. When you’re “marginalized,” when you fall into so many categories, it’s hard to pick a battle to fight when there are so many fucking battles to fight, and everyone is fighting one. I don’t mind apologizing to my followers who have disabilities or different abilities. I wasn’t being, clear in my writing.
But let me be clear now. I see it. I see the way that trans kids are being treated in Texas and Florida, but I also see kids who are 10 years old – little baby girls, being forced to give birth to their rapist’s babies.
I see it, but I don’t always focus on all the ways that humans are being abused, because I’m overwhelmed, like many of you. So I made myself clear in the letter but let me make myself clear here.
If you believe that:
- Women and children should have autonomy over their own bodies,
- If you believe that women should have the right to have an abortion
- If you believe that Black folk shouldn’t have to fear for their lives when they interact with white folk – especially with cops –
- If you believe in Freedom and Liberty for EVERY SINGLE HUMAN ON EARTH
- If you believe everyone deserves food
- Medical care should be for everyone everywhere at a reasonable price
- War should be eviscerated
- everyone should have a safe affordable place to live.
Then I am clearly not talking to you about racial oppression.
There is a difference between right and wrong, and you know what that is, if you don’t, pull a Poochie and do as he says. “Follow your heart.“
If it hurts or harms other people who are already suffering, if it chips away at the value of human life, if it makes life harder for those who need a lift up instead of being stomped on some more, then I’m clearly not talking to you.
It’s hard when you’re white, and you want to ally, to know where your place is and when you’re being spoken to online, or when someone is speaking to someone maybe in your circle but not necessarily you in particular. This is what I have learned from my white allies, a lot of folks are genuinely confused about where their place is.
We as colored folk need to stop expecting white people to read our books and our work without being willing to add context to the conversation. We’re tired so we say “go read this book or that book,” but then we don’t walk to talk to them about it, because again we’re tired. So really reading books is only half the work.
It’s perfectly okay for white people and colored folk to have a conversation, about racism and the place of the white ally, but people have to be willing.
Yes, go to protests. Yes call your local reps, yes participate in local politics, yes stand up for us, no don’t talk over us, I mean to me it sounds pretty easy, but that’s because “I” know what I need, teaching others what I need is a different beast.
A lot of marginalized folks aren’t used to hearing “what do you need?” or “I read XYZ book and I have some thoughts, could we discuss them?” It’s not something that happens often, but COLORED folk needs to be ready for when it does. Because eventually a white person. is going to come to you, out of concern that they are the problem, because they love you, and ask how they can do better. You need to have an answer.
The answer can’t be to shove them off – when they are genuinely trying to understand – and hope they figure it out on their own. Yes, it’s important to have a pile of books to suggest, but you also have to have read them yourself. THEN you MUST be prepared to talk about them with your white allies. They won’t learn from reading alone, they need real frontline experience, and you as their only Black friend might be their only teacher.
Too bad. It’s your job. Whether you like it or not, to decide how you’re going to best serve this world. If you can’t do that, direct them to someone who can.
If we are going to truly educate, then we must be better than the teachers who called us stupid for not understanding, when the real problem is they didn’t know how to teach.
In order to teach we also have to learn. That’s why we work together, to teach each other, to better educate ourselves and our community so that we can have a better future than we have in the past.
And yes it’s a lot of work being the teacher in the group, but if not you then the problem only gets worse until it’s unmangable, and here we are now.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall
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