Monday, December 28, 2015

Dear White People

I have a weighty request. As you read this letter, I want you to listen with love, a sort of love that demands that you look at parts of yourself that might cause pain and terror, as James Baldwin would say. Did you hear that? You may have missed it. I repeat: I want you to listen with love. Well, at least try.


Much of our discourse these days is about revenge, name calling, hate, and divisiveness. I have yet to hear it from our presidential hopefuls, or our political pundits.


I don’t mean the Hollywood type of love, but the scary kind, the kind that risks not being reciprocated, the kind that refuses to flee in the face of danger. To make it a bit easier for you, I’ve decided to model, as best as I can, what I’m asking of you. Let me demonstrate the vulnerability that I wish you to show.


This letter is a gift for you. Bear in mind, though, that some gifts can be heavy to bear.  


I have read many of your comments. I have even received some hate mail. In this letter, I ask you to look deep, to look into your souls with silence, to quiet that voice that will speak to you of your white “innocence.”


Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything. To do so is to hide yet again.


If you are white, and you are reading this letter, I ask that you don’t run to seek shelter from your own racism. Don’t hide from your responsibility. Rather, begin, right now, to practice being vulnerable.


I ask that you try to be “un-sutured.” If that term brings to mind a state of pain, open flesh, it is meant to do so. After all, it is painful to let go of your “white innocence,” to use this letter as a mirror, one that refuses to show you what you want to see, one that demands that you look at the lies that you tell yourself so that you don’t feel the weight of responsibility for those who live under the yoke of whiteness, your whiteness.


I am asking you to enter into battle with your white self. I’m asking that you open yourself up; to speak to, to admit to, the racist poison that is inside of you.


Don’t tell me about how many black friends you have. Don’t tell me that you are married to someone of color. Don’t tell me that you voted for Obama. Don’t tell me that I’m the racist. Don’t tell me that you don’t see color. Don’t tell me that I’m blaming whites for everything.


You may have never used the N-word in your life, you may hate the K.K.K., but that does not mean that you don’t harbor racism and benefit from racism. After all, you are part of a system that allows you to walk into stores where you are not followed, where you get to go for a bank loan and your skin does not count against you, where you don’t need to engage in “the talk” that black people and people of color must tell their children when they are confronted by white police officers.


I know that there are those who will write to me in the comment section with boiling anger, sarcasm, disbelief, denial. There are those who will say, “Yancy is just an angry black man.” There are others who will say, “Why isn’t Yancy telling black people to be honest about the violence in their own black neighborhoods?”


Or, “How can Yancy say that all white people are racists?” If you are saying these things, then you’ve already failed to listen. I come with a gift. You’re already rejecting the gift that I have to offer.


I assure you that so many black people suffering from poverty and joblessness, which is linked to high levels of crime, are painfully aware of the existential toll that they have had to face because they are black and, as Baldwin adds, “for no other reason.”


Some of your white brothers and sisters have made this leap. The legal scholar Stephanie M. Wildman, has written, “I simply believe that no matter how hard I work at not being racist, I still am. Because part of racism is systemic, I benefit from the privilege that I am struggling to see."


White America, are you prepared to be at war with yourself, your white identity, your white power, your white privilege?


I’m asking for love in return for a gift; in fact, I’m hoping that this gift might help you to see yourself in ways that you have not seen before. Of course, the history of white supremacy in America belies this gesture of black gift-giving, this gesture of non-sentimental love. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered even as he loved.


Perhaps the language of this letter will encourage a split — not a split between black and white, but a fissure in your understanding, a space for loving a Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Aiyana Jones, Sandra Bland, Laquan McDonald and others.


If you have young children, before you fall off to sleep tonight, I want you to hold your child. Touch your child’s face. Smell your child’s hair. Count the fingers on your child’s hand. See the miracle that is your child. And then, with as much vision as you can muster, I want you to imagine that your child is black.


Full Article

2 comments:

  1. White man you will bow before the Altar of The Negro. You have sinned against the One with the 80 IQ, the sloping forehead. There is no forgiveness, no repent. You owe all your worldly possessions to the neighborhood simian with the 40 cal and the 40 malt liquor. You owe all your tax dollars to the neighborhood sow with the 6 churrins. You will not rebel against the magic negro who is capable of putting sentences together in a blog; he is merely the messenger. The only thing you may do is slowly die off. You may leave behind the legacy of the EBT. The Affirmative Action. Though those pathetic debts are merely an offering; your debt will never be paid. Now go white man, go and feel bad about the plight of the Negro until you die.

    ReplyDelete
  2. In the field of psychology, strong emotions such as hate or envy are said to interfere with reality testing. Who knows why Negros confuse their make believe with reality? Thanks for a picture tour of this phenomenon.

    ReplyDelete