If you don’t believe whitesplaining is wrong, then you’re missing how the motivation behind whitesplaining is influenced by white supremacy. So let’s unpack the most common reasons why whitesplaining happens, to examine why it’s so misguided.
“We may be uncomfortable talking about race, but we can no longer afford to be silent. We have chosen a profession, which—like parenting—requires that our comforts come second to those of children.”
On Friday evening, after an evening out with her husband and 11-year-old son, Solange Knowles went on a tweet storm about how she was treated at a Kraftwerk concert in New Orleans.
Knowles recounted how she was harassed by four white woman, and why black people never feel safe in white spaces.
“4 older white women yell to me from behind, ‘Sit down now’. I tell them I’m dancing at a concert. They yell, ‘u need to sit down now,’” Knowles posted on Twitter in a now-deleted tweet.
“We are at an ELECTRONIC and DANCE music concert and you are telling…not asking me…to sit down. In front of my child,” Knowles continued. She then went on to say that one of the women threw something at her back.
On Sunday, Solange wrote an essay titled, “And Do You Belong? I Do” on her personal website. She went into more details about the incident and how she commonly feels uncomfortable during certain events.
An important read: And Do You Belong? I Do – Saint Heron
This is such a good read (and so affirming for POC who live in SF/Bay Area). #whiteliberalracism #blindspots
Please read: Color Blind or Just Plain Blind? by John F. Dovidio and Samuel L.Gaertner (ignore the alert at the top of the page about content that has been moved, and keep reading).
My favorite bit is the conclusion’s first bullet:
So what can we each do about racism when we don’t know what we don’t know yet? Here are some simple (but not easy) suggestions for action.
• When a person of color brings up race as an issue in an interpersonal or organizational setting—listen! If the person indicates he or she is offended, don’t be defensive. Instead try to understand the other person’s perspective on the issue. Remember your perceptions can be very different from the everyday experience of others. As the data indicate, whites tend to underestimate the impact of discrimination. Do not begin talking quickly, explain why they are misinterpreting the situation, or begin crying. These are some of the most infuriating responses people of color encounter when they challenge a situation that feels wrong. Take time, if you need it, to think about the situation after listening fully to the other person’s perspective. If you hear problems third-hand, don’t get angry because you were not approached directly. You probably need to talk through the situation at some point, but remember it is almost never completely safe for a person of color to challenge a dominant perception. Listen deeply.
Ultimately, white folks’ fear of black anger is an act of psychological projection because White America would not tolerate for a moment the treatment that it routinely dispenses on black Americans and other people of color. Anger and upset at injustice and ill treatment are natural, human responses. Like any other people, black folks have a full range of emotions. Black America is asked to suppress and hide its anger; White America is rarely if ever asked to do the same thing.
For example, black America is asked to forgive and forget racial terrorism. White America never forgives or negotiates with terrorists. Instead, the United States hunts them down and kills with due haste and without apology.
White supremacy has forced black Americans, as a historic matter of survival, to wear a mask that is used to hide the full range of our emotions. In many ways, to publicly deny a full range of our emotion is a profoundly unnatural and unhealthy behavior. The mask also means that all too often, black justice claims are compromised, massaged, and repackaged as to avoid making white folks too uncomfortable. This is an act of surrender to white racial fragility and white privilege—moves that in the long-term accomplish little as power concedes nothing without a demand.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” -Audre Lorde Audre Lorde Archive at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies