North Texas Daily

Basic courtesies shouldn’t be awarded

Basic courtesies shouldn’t be awarded

Basic courtesies shouldn’t be awarded
October 22
17:00 2020

For many Black Americans, this year has been nothing short of traumatic. With the murder of Breonna Taylor, the voter suppression that occurred in Wisconsin and the performative grand gestures by politicians and big brands alike, Black Americans have been consistently reminded of the general neglect and abuse American systems are built upon. When racism is threaded through every fiber of Black American’s social and economic lives, any reprieve seems like a godsend.

However, this is not the case. Like most Tuesdays mornings, I started it by scrolling through Twitter, my hair a mess and mouth ajar. As I scrolled through my convoluted timeline, I saw a tweet intent on furrowing my brow and curling the sides of my lips in disgust and disappointment. “ I love it when white girls look white,” read the caption to a video of a blonde woman plopped into the driver seat of her sedan. These words rang in my head, recalling the many times I’ve heard “you’re invited to the cookout,” to any white man or woman who happened to understand just one of the many basic principles of allyship.

Of course, all of this usually occurs before some problematic past is uncovered and they begin rummaging through their boxes of prewritten excuses. 

In any case, for a moment in that process, they become the face of undeserving worship. They’re put on a pedestal for practicing the most primitive forms of human kindness and respect. There should be no award for excluding the n-word out of a Kendrick Lamar song, dancing on beat to Beyonce or  Marvin Gaye and definitely no award for deciding to skip out on cosplaying as Black.

It’s no secret society often breeds acceptance for white mediocrity and this phenomenon only works to prove that. Black people often have to code-switch, compensate for the stereotypes of aggression with a charming smile and docile demeanor to ever be thought of as kind. Black people have to perform and assimilate, not only for financial and professional success, but oftentimes for their lives.

Furthermore, there is no guarantee this performance will lead to that promising promotion or even save their lives from the hands of the police. It’s a slap in the face to reward these often empty acts of kindness from people who disregard taking any type of real systematic or meaningful action. The positioning of white people as the true freedom fighters in Black movements only reaffirms white savior complexes and diminishes consequential contributions done by Black leaders.

By passing out “Black cards” we give voices to people who do not live through and thus understand the nuance of Black culture and Black political oppression. White voices are frequently magnified in popular media and the constant praise only shifts the visibility from Black people back to them. Their simplification of the Black struggle redistributes the focus from systematic change to basic niceties any person should employ. Lastly, it is truly concerning white people have found a way to profit from this performance while low-income Black men and women killed by the police can’t even reach their goals on their GoFundMe.

From Elvis becoming the king of rock and roll, to Comme De Garcons’ placing cornrows on European models, white people have long profited from the use of Black spaces and Black culture. This time is no different. White allies have found a new way to monetize something incredibly serious. They have been allotted power and access to Black spaces for simply being a decent human. We must be vigilant to stop this type of rhetoric and praise. Allyship is hard. It’s speaking when no one else is around. It’s calling out bigotry in conservative white spaces. It’s actively trying to make a change. We don’t need to reward anyone for treating the way we should have been treated all along: a human.

Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Davion Smith

Davion Smith

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