racism

Are you there Becky, Karen? It’s me, Stephie. And we need to talk.

 

As white women we occupy the most privileged place a woman can be. Yeah, we have our struggles and our fights to win, but we do have privilege. Part of that privilege is a presumed innocence. Aand when we need it, a victimhood.

Listen, I get it. We are the product of centuries of conditioning that people who are different are dangerous. That anything other than tears is an inappropriate response to any confrontation, no anger allowed for us! But then, of course, tears are over emotional or of course we must have our periods. It’s a no-win situation for us. But here’s the thing, those tears…they can and regularly are a weapon against black people.

So, Becky, Karen…me, let’s chat. The time has come and gone and come again for us to put our egos aside. No, we ourselves aren’t responsible for slavery, but we and every other white person reap the benefits of institutions and mindsets that were set in place then and still continue to this day. They are antiquated and wrong and it is on us to call it out and knock it off. Racism isn’t just big horrible things, it is as they say, a death by a thousand cuts and we must examine our own part in that, and fix our course.

Take for instance the white woman who attacked the black pregnant soldier and then CRIED that she was the victim. If the assault hadn’t been caught on tape, one hundred percent her white tears would have portrayed her as the victim, and the black soldier would have been seen as the aggressor. You even see her start to cry and play the victim to the cops on camera! Now for this women, it was a conscious decision. A tactic that has probably gotten her out of situations before. There is no excuse. But many of us may not even realize we are doing it. It’s a pavlovian response to cry in conflict for many of us, we may not know how that affects others.

After reading this there are no more excuses. We must be aware and rectify our behavior.

So, Starbucks, am I right? I live at Starbucks, I am the quintessential suburban latte loving mom. I am with all my girls at the ‘bucks on the reg. One time while we were there a white man took it upon himself to notice that my toddler touched more than one Peter Rabbit apple sauce and proceeded to scream obscenities and horrible things at me. The baristas tried to calm him down, other customers came to my defense as he called me ‘white trash’ and a ‘horrible mom’, and that’s the nice things. Now, I almost did cry. I was embarrassed my toddler had grabbed a bunch of the applesauces and was terrified at his anger and the vile things he was screaming at me. You know what the baristas did not do? Even though this man was threatening me and screaming at the top of his lungs? They didn’t call the police.

The two men who were arrested last week at Starbucks last week didn’t yell at anyone, they didn’t say horrible things, they did nothing but sit and wait, just like I do when I get there before my girls. No one has ever called the cops on me for that.

The cops were called because two black men sitting calmly waiting made a white barista uncomfortable. Black people being in a public space makes white people uncomfortable, and black people pay the price for that. Here is the thing, if you are uncomfortable because a black person is sitting near you then you need to sit with that discomfort and truly think about it. Are they actually doing anything scary? Probably not. Probably they are just trying to go about their lives doing such crazy things as wait for a friend to grab a coffee. Sit with it. Think about WHY you feel uncomfortable and seriously, KNOW it’s on you. It’s on me. It’s on US. Think about how if you are uncomfortable for -let’s admit it- no good reason, just because someone is black, think about how uncomfortable it is to be a black person in this current world. Now, I would not attempt to speak for them, they are more than capable of doing that, all we have to do is shut up and listen. In the past 24 hours, I have heard stories on twitter of people just trying to go to the store, eat lunch, get into their OWN HOME and being verbally assaulted or even worse, having the cops called on them. For walking in their own neighborhoods.

There is NO WAY to deny the people in the wrong are those (us) with racial bias that says “this person must be up to something to be in this neighborhood/Starbucks/grocery store/school”. Therefore it is on US to acknowledge it. To sit with our discomfort and NOT call the cops on someone in the store next to us just because they make us uncomfortable. Think of how uncomfortable we are making them! Read this thread of  Elon James White’s of what it is like entering a predominately white space. We are uncomfortable for ages old and non-realistic reasons. Statistically, we are more likely to be killed or injured by our own partners than a random black man.

We must start recognizing it, acknowledging it and then DOING something about it. Because our discomfort is costing people their lives and jobs and it’s unacceptable. Ladies, we need to get over ourselves, because our anxiety is not based in reality and it is WRONG.

Recently a friend of mine (this story is shared with her permission) was called into HR because someone had made a complaint against her. What was the complaint? She didn’t smile enough, she didn’t greet everyone with a joyous ‘Good Morning!”and that made this one woman, in particular “uncomfortable”. She was told she was doing a good job, she was meeting all her requirements, in fact her work was stellar. But this white woman was uncomfortable. Over several meetings she was  informed  they knew she didn’t like it there or them (she did like it there, and was just fine with them) It was suggested she needed some ‘black girlfriends’ to complain about the white people too. Then they started in, insisting she clock in though no one else on salary does. Keeping close watch on her and calling her in for any minor infraction, like being 2 minutes late for a duty though she was in fact helping someone at work and they knew it. Eventually the situation because untenable and she had to make a choice, for her sanity and to show her children what was right she let her job.

Because a white woman thought she didn’t like her, because she didn’t smile at her every morning. Since her expectations weren’t being met, surely this woman was at fault.Racism doesn’t need to be big and violent to  be destructive. The daily subtle stuff is almost worse, what could she do? Her concerns were laughed away, but in the end she still suffered the consequences. She, like these men at Starbucks, did nothing wrong. When was the last time you were followed around a store to make sure you didn’t shoplift? When was the last time you were accused of stealing an article of clothing at Old Navy just because you were wearing it, while BUYING more clothes? These things happen all the time and there is no excuse for us to be surprised by it any more.

A recent special hosted by Oprah featured photographs of lynchings and white people were SUPER upset about the photos. Not about the lynchings, but that the photos of dressed up white people smiling and cheering black bodies hanging from trees made them uncomfortable. Good. It should make us uncomfortable, the last known lynching was in 1982 and that was fucking yesterday as far as history is concerned. So, no I am not sorry if these photos made you uncomfortable, they should. Don’t look away from them. From our shameful legacy, and then realize that while we may not be hanging black bodies from elm trees, we sure do make the world more dangerous for those who just want to go about their lives.

You know who was the most uncomfortable? Those who were lynched, their families and their relatives who now look upon those photos and see their loved ones swinging. It’s brutal, its evil, and it is murder. We must reckon with our past.

 

There is no excuse to look away.None. From here on out, there is NO EXCUSE to be surprised these things happen. These things happen every single day.

 

The other day I held the door for a black woman, she looked at me like I had three heads, like that had never happened before. A white woman holding the door for her. Like things happen, a day or two later I read a thread on twitter (I will update when I find it) by a woman who had been bumped into by a white woman who then apologized. She said this was the first time it happened. Her feed was followed by similar stories.

White women. WHAT THE FUCK. Hold the door for whoever is behind you, or in front of you. If you bump into someone, say sorry. If someone passes you on the street smile and say hello. I don’t expect any praise for doing these things and neither should you…this is the very baseline of human kindness and manners.

Imagine if someone had simply said hello to those gentlemen? Imagine if we made an effort to notice when we are feeling uncomfortable in the presence of black people and KNOW that that is generationally conditioned racism?

 

No more being surprised by this. No more sitting quietly while it happens. When we know better, we do better. We must all be the starbucks patrons who stood up for those men.

It starts with us, and it starts with our children. White women, we need to get over this crap and lead the way. We are not white saviors, that’s gross, but we must not buy into the ages old soft racism that is dangerous to those around us. We must put aside our egos, and we must stand up for what is right.

It’s on us.

 

  • I am still looking for some of the twitter threads I reference here, I did not save them as they went past, so hold tight. I will update.