9 Things Black People Wish White People Would Understand About Racism
In recent months, there has been a lot of buzz on social media from white people who think black people genuinely hate them.
I can't speak for the black extremists out there, but I can confidently say most black people do not hate all white people. We just strongly dislike some of the things they do.
For the record, while I don't believe whites and blacks are inherently different solely because of their skin color, I do believe our cultures and upbringing make us different in a lot of ways.
Therefore, this list is not a generalization, but rather an observation of characteristics often associated with white culture.
Here are nine things black people wish white people would stop doing, in no particular order:
1. Equating being black to being poor.
I've been told by white people that because I grew up middle-class and can’t directly relate to the “black struggle,” I'm not really black.
My white friends in college would make poorly-executed jokes about black people and tell me I'm not black enough to be offended.
If I’m not black, then what am I?
There’s something fundamentally wrong with firmly believing that the farther away from poverty someone is, the less black he or she is.
2. Thinking all race-related issues also work the other way around.
For example, a black woman straightening her hair cannot be used to dispute a white woman wearing box braids.
Here’s why: When a black woman conforms to European standards, the academic term for this is "cultural assimilation," not appropriation.
Over time, people of color begin to resemble the culture of the majority. If you were to live in China for 10 years, I’m sure you’d return to America with some cultural elements of Chinese people without making a conscious effort.
As a dominant group with the greatest cultural influence in this country, it’s a lot harder for white people to assimilate a subordinate culture unless they live around the culture for a long period of time.
3. Thinking it's okay to say the N-word around your black friends.
We can’t control what you say when we’re not around. But you make it pretty obvious exactly what that is when it slips out in casual conversations with black people.
To make matters worse, many white people feel perfectly fine saying the N-word around their black friends.
Regardless of whether or not you think the blacks in your circle are down with you being so explicit, using the N-word is completely tasteless and shows a total lack of respect for the past, as well as for your black friends.
If at all possible, just keep your urges to yourself.
4. Thinking that because you have black friends, you're exempt from being racist.
A questionably racist white person’s favorite line is, “I have black friends.”
By definition, you can have black friends and still be racist. Believing you’re superior to another race doesn’t mean it’s impossible for you to like someone of that race.
The KKK website even says some black people are nice. That doesn’t mean it no longer believes we’re a different and lesser species.
It’s just an overall poor argument.
There are stronger ones out there.
5. Saying our benefits as black people make us more privileged than you.
If black people are provided scholarships based on their skin color, perhaps it’s because they actually need them. If black people have BET and you don’t have WET, perhaps it’s because you don’t need it.
Consider the areas where you are privileged -- like the fact that you’re less likely to be in debt after college, or the fact that you are represented on a wide spectrum of channels -- before you speak on our smaller triumphs.
6. Asking to touch our hair.
Many white people have a hard time understanding why this matters. It’s because our hair isn’t a foreign object.
It makes us feel uncomfortable when you ask to touch it, like we’re a rare animal at a petting zoo. It’s just hair, as you can imagine.
It doesn’t really do anything.
7. Telling us to "go back to Africa."
Okay, this has got to be the worst comeback black people can hear in a race debate. Yet, we hear it quite often.
First of all, it’s like, “Is that all you’ve got?”
But more importantly, it makes no sense.
There’s a great chance that the person on the receiving end of this statement has never actually been to Africa.
Moreover, it's likely his or her ancestors did not ask to come here.
Technically, this country doesn’t belong to white people any more than it does to black people.
Telling me to go back to Africa would be the equivalent of me telling you to return to Europe.
They both sound silly in retrospect.
8. Being afraid to talk to us.
I will never forget the time I was in a scriptwriting class in college, and a black girl was wearing a skirt that wasn’t pulled down all the way.
A white friend of mine asked me to inform the girl of her wardrobe malfunction.
My immediate response was, “Why don’t you tell her?”
My friend told me she wanted me to do it because I’m black, and she didn’t want to get cursed out.
Not all black women are angry and looking to fight.
This stereotype has seriously caused a lot of white women to be afraid of us.
I understand there are some black women who are like this, but we are generally nice people.
Get to know us before drawing such harsh conclusions about us.
9. Pretending you're down with black people because you like hip-hop and watch sports.
Hip-hop music is great. Some may just consider it “noise,” but many hip-hop albums have been regarded as some of the greatest albums of all time.
The genre is comprised of mostly black people, but a lot of white people enjoy it.
That said, just because you listen to J Cole and Kid Cudi, it does not mean you care about black people.
The argument has been made that many white people see blacks as entertainment figures and not much else.
We excel at sports, we make great music, we know how to dance and we’re great comedians.
But as far as anyone is concerned, that’s about it.
The point is, if you truly care about us, you will adhere to us even when we’re not providing you with recreation.
Don’t use your admiration for Drake as a way to prove you love black people.
We see right through it.