Our spaces are sacred places for healing, refueling & exchanging views on how to best approach oppression in the 21st Century. Now no matter if we’re at the cookout, at work or just sitting on the front stoop on a summer day wherever we convene– that place becomes crucial to our stability.
But we’re bugging!
Over the past year there have been a host of expressions added to the internet including, “the Black delegation would like to trade…”and “you’re invited to the cookout..”
Now, I’ve scrolled down my timeline multiple times trying to figure out what the criteria are for these invites. Because Wypipo are coming through rappin’, singing, dancing, “dating” and “marrying’ the right one (Heyyyy Prince William). I’m confused by these invites. I’m not sure if we want entertainment or allies.
Because the truth is, everybody isn’t welcome.
For the past year I’ve been a part of a group of Critically Conscious Educators and through this affiliation I’ve discovered various theories on race. This year that included, “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. The theory that White people rarely have to suffer from racial stress and therefore have negative reactions to discussions on race. In reviewing her theory I also located an article on the soft language used to discuss systemic racism like diversity and inclusion titled, “The Sugar Coated Language of White Fragility.” After reading each of these I found it imperative to ensure that people who come into our spaces are “wit it” not just willing to say they aren’t racist but willing to have courageous conversations that push far beyond their comfort zones.
As we continue to develop public spaces we need to remain aware of how whiteness is centered as the norm. Often times without an unwavering demand for naming whiteness, deconstructing it and improving the quality of life for people of color (POC) in America. In order for us to move forward wypipo mustn’t simply love our culture but embrace and discuss with their people how white privilege affects society. Typically, this is where friendships stop and the invitation gets a “thanks but no thanks.”
It’s time to filter out the fragile.
Anyone who is declaring colorblindness or professing that they are “not political” or still blaming a divisive America on Obama’s administration after a year of 45 needs to be called out.
We are 3 weeks into 2018 and have already had racism emerge in H & M’s “coolest monkey” ad, on college campuses with an Alabama student being expelled for her Instagram rant, in public education with 4th graders being asked to give 3 good reasons for slavery, a High School principal “retiring” after 40 years due to a racist video surfacing and on Friday “unapologetically white” posters began surfacing in Minnesota.
The issues of racism, prejudice and violence affect all facets of life for POC and it is vital that we discuss these topics despite how uncomfortable they may make fragile White people feel. And this is especially true for those who work in education.
The fragility of whiteness shows up in our schools ALL THE TIME. It is rampant across discipline, in building relationships, and in our curriculum. Our communities and institutions for education are constantly framed as places at war and failing. It is this “urban education’ narrative that has a high percentage of teachers often times entering our spaces through the lens of their guilt, swearing they coming to save us or just down right actin’ like they in battle, with their family and friends reinforcing these damaging stereotypes. Instead of making it clear, that not understanding our culture doesn’t give right to name our behavior as animalistic, ignorant or indifferent to the importance of education.
Cognitive Dissonance will have wypipo out here swearing they didn’t help create the problems currently living in public education. It’s 2018, the deconstruction of whiteness needs to take center stage. It shouldn’t be protected, coddled or framed softly and POCs don’t need to bear the heavy lifting of the conversation.
We got other shit to worry about.
More importantly, we need to protect our mental health and secure spaces where the bringing up of race, America’s ugly history and 45 are met with solution based discussions instead of defensiveness, derailing and denial.
Historically our spaces are heavily segregated. The current political climate, however, has provided an opportunity to forge partnerships. Yet, we cannot forget …. it takes damn near a drop of blood to join predominately white spaces. We gotta fill out applications, provide credit scores, job history, family history, educational background, fingerprints and the list goes on. This is to even obtain access so we can then frequent predominately white spaces or institutions let alone come through and grab a plate from Aunt Susan.
Access to our spaces must require far more.
It requires White people to be ready to confront their own biases, those of the people around them and systemic racism. For some reason, the exclusivity of our spaces causes many to speak up against it. As if we are proclaiming all white people are racist and unwelcomed. For some, that may actually be their reasoning, but this step is completely precautionary.
In one of my favorite interviews, the late Muhammad Ali said it best:
“There are many white people who mean right and in their hearts wanna do right. If 10,000 snakes were coming down that aisle now, and I had a door that I could shut, and in that 10,000, 1,000 meant right, 1,000 rattlesnakes didn’t want to bite me, I knew they were good… Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down, hoping that that thousand get together and form a shield? Or should I just close the door and stay safe?”
We just tryna stay safe, focused and keep our spaces covered.
This also goes for anyone within the community who could derail our conversations or progress. Like Zora says, ‘All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.” There’s a long list of people whose “Black cards” have been revoked openly and without regard…I’m sure Omarosa knows what I mean, she definitely ain’t invited to the cookout.
Jane Elliot invited though, I need to talk to her lol.
In order to get your invite or keep it here’s a few pointers:
- 1. Read up on White Fragility. Whether you are fragile or afraid to create space where others are vulnerable remember the work cannot be complete without pushing through.
- 2. Ask for Receipts, Take Note & Disrupt – Don’t shy away from asking people how they’ve been called to do this work.
- 4. Don’t Let People Play Ignorant – A writer at Dame Magazine may be on to something with “White People Understand Exactly How Racism Works” make sure you enjoy life and stay well read.
- 5. Race Talk – Read it, the scenarios will help you construct spaces and guide conversations on race. No matter how uncomfortable, we’ve gotta have ‘em.
Are these simple request? No, I’m aware they aren’t. You gotta put in work.
Check out some posts from #BlackTwitter on invites sent out before (photos below)