15 Stupid Things White People Do and What They Could Do Instead

  1. Call an African-American “articulate.” This sounds like “articulate-ness” is something unusual in a person of color. Because of a long history of oppression, degradation and dismissal of our talent & skills, this statement can be misconstrued.
  2. Say “one of my best friends is [Black, Latino, etc.]” Oh really?! Do you know where they person shop for groceries? Where they go to church? Where they get their hair done? What their children’s/granchildren’s names are? Have you ever been to their home? These are the things you know about a ‘real’ friend. If you have so many minority friends, you should be able to sympathize with them instead of announcing your friendship with them.
  3. Say that the success of [Oprah, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan, etc.] shows that there’s no more racism, or it isn’t that bad anymore. The real question is: How many more people like Oprah would there be if there was actual equality in this country? If you really think about it, most people can only name a handful of African American millionaires (who don’t play ball or sing/rap). Why is this? If we are nearly 13% of the US population, there should be far more successful African Americans than just a handful.
  4. Say that if anyone works hard they will get ahead. The USA really isn’t a meritocracy. A lot of people who are working hard do not get ahead in this country. And that’s regardless of color; it just happens to negatively impact African Americans even more. Besides, how can we really get “ahead” when White people have already had a head start in life?
  5. Say that it doesn’t matter what color Jesus was, it matters what Jesus did, while insisting that pictures of him must be White.  Then why don’t we just make him Black instead with brown hair & brown eyes?
  6. Say that if we could just all be friends, everything would be all right. Instead: Consider that friendships are nice but they are not a substitute for equality and justice.
  7. Say that you need a safe space to talk about race. Instead: Consider why you feel there is a danger zone and why. Not only that, what can you do to provide a safe space to talk about it.
  8. Say that you “don’t see color.” Instead: Consider that saying this is not a compliment because the implication is that having color is a diminishment. Are you trying to bestow some kind of “honorary whiteness” on a person of color? They don’t want it. Besides, if you don’t see it then why discuss it?
  9. Say that we should just trust and respect each other. Instead: Why isn’t every White person rich or successful like Donald Trump or Bill Gates? Ask yourself why you didn’t invent the atom bomb. Every culture has its exceptional individuals. But most of us are pretty ordinary.
  10. Say things like, “Look at [Condoleezza Rice, Ben Carson, Colin Powell]. Why can’t other people of color get ahead?” Instead: Consider whether that isn’t a part of any genuine relationship and why it needs to be highlighted in this instance. Who broke and continues to break that trust? Respect has to be earned. And with all the police brutality that’s going on AIMED at African American young males, it’s not hard to figure out why most Blacks don’t trust Whites.
  11. Lecture African Americans & other people of color on how they need to let go of the past. Instead:  Acknowledge that racism is here in the present.  Whites still benefit from white privilege; people of color are still oppressed by racist institutions. Asking people of color to let go of the past history of racial injustice in this country is actually to ask them to deny the present reality that such injustice still occurs.
  12. Excuse yourself from responsibility for racism because you weren’t born yet when people were enslaved. Instead:  Recognize that every white person alive today benefits from white privilege, right here, right now, in the 21st century.  You may not be responsible for enslavement in the past, but that doesn’t change your responsibility for how you knowingly or unknowingly perpetuate racism today. After all, don’t White people still make more money on the dollar compared to just about every other ethnic group?
  13. Believe that racism is a thing of the past. Instead:  see above
  14. Insist that you can only understand racism if a person of color explains it. Instead: Look around, do some research of your own, talk to white allies.  There are books, films, organizations, and websites to learn from.  (See resources list.) Racism itself is a burden to people of color; it is an additional burden to have to constantly explain racism to whites, which often includes having to justify or defend their views and experiences in the face of hostility.
  15. Insist that people of color should look at your intent and not the impact of what you do/support/deny because of your “good intentions.” Instead:   If intent is the only measure of your work towards racial justice, then the only benefit of that work is that you feel better about yourself by doing it.  On the other hand, if the impact is a measure, then there is accountability to how your work actually advances the goal of racial justice, which benefits everyone.















*Article taken from Baltimore Anti-Racist.

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