North Texas Daily

Stop asking your black friends how to not be racist

Stop asking your black friends how to not be racist

Stop asking your black friends how to not be racist
September 18
12:00 2020

Due to unfortunate reasons, the Black Lives Matter movement has been heavily advocated for in current day society. Since the unjust murders by American law enforcement of innocent  Black lives such as Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain (and unfortunately the list goes on and on), the movement has been propelled to the forefront of many discussions about racial politics and social awareness. Though the movement has been actively fighting police brutality since 2013, this is the year in which the most change has occurred.

Despite an ongoing global pandemic, protesters worldwide took to the streets and fiercely raised their voices for Black lives and urged their respective governments to consider police reform and change that will ensure the protection of Black life against the wrath of the unequal justice system. Since the killing of George Floyd in May, the unrelenting call of justice has harbored results. In the United States, new laws at state and local levels have begun addressing police reform. The elevation of the movement is certainly an amazing thing and it has piqued the interest of many folks across the world. However, while trying to better themselves by becoming more racially aware, non-Black people have exhausted their Black friends by using them as personal Wikipedias on how to end racism.
Running to your Black friends with issues concerning racism is a microaggression that many non-Black people fail to acknowledge.

While the desire to learn more about a topic one lacks in is innocent, doing so in this manner is a lot harmful than helpful. Yes, the aim is for all people to be more educated regarding racism and racial politics, however, doing so at the expense of your Black friend is incredibly tone-deaf. Duet to various traumatic experiences, Black people are constantly unlearning generations worth of internalized racism themselves. This fight is extremely exhausting. It is wildly irresponsible for non-Black people to intentionally or unintentionally place the responsibility of unlearning racism on their Black friends. Google is free, Black people are not your walking manuals on how to not be racist.

Black people do not owe their non-Black friends the time to educate them on things they can easily research themselves. It is not ideal to look to Black people for resources regarding racism because it denies them the time they need to properly process racism themselves, heal and grieve. Projecting that responsibility onto the Black people around you is simply selfish and it implies the white savior complex.

Though outwardly it seems innocent, this displays a great deal of virtue signaling and illustrates a false sense of allyship. Placing yourself in a position to request such information only shows that you’re so far removed from the experience that you don’t feel the need to take the extra step and look for ways. It is frankly lazy and illustrates that taking the extra mile and researching effective ways to minimize your racist antics is an inconvenience to you. There’s a substantial amount of privilege in learning about racism instead of experiencing it.

Additionally, being the token Black friend is not a title any Black person wants to wear. One Black person does not speak for an entire race of multifaceted people. While their opinions can certainly echo the feelings of many, they are not the representative for all Black people. Therefore, it’s even more crucial to conduct further research and learn from other Black voices through published pieces of work created by Black people.

A person having a Black friend does not mean they are shielded from being a racist.

Looking at your Black friends for resources on anti-racism places their mental health and overall well-being at stake. This year especially has resulted in the death of many Black lives and videos of Black people being killed at the hands of law enforcement continue to be plastered all over social media. These graphic videos are gruesome and traumatizing. Sharing this content to your Black friends and expecting them to know the solution hurts them more than you know. This notion that Black people have to be the ones to educate the non-Black masses on anti-racism further incites the age-old stereotype that Black people must always be strong. This strips away their right to vulnerability and minimizes Black suffering. It is time that we put this inverted responsibility to an end and consider the mental health of the Black race.

Anti-racism work is not something that can be done in the span of a few months while its the hot topic of everyone’s discussions. This is something that must remain constant throughout one’s life. Also, yes, I agree that people should learn about anti-Black racism from Black people. However, they should do so by researching published literature and pieces of media created by Black people instead of going to their Black friends who might be grieving and also need healing. Additionally, when venturing down this road, stray away from only researching works Black traumas, also look to works of Black joy as well.

Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Michelle Monari

Michelle Monari

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