Dear Liberal Wypipo: Y’all Got Us F’ed Up and Fed Up
Happy May to all of my educators! I know the “T-minus-insert-number-of- instructional-days-remaining” has begun. While I am rooting for all of my educators to cross the finish line, like any good professional and human being, this is a time to start reflecting.
I’ve said this before in a previous blog, but I’m gonna say it again: I know my Whites. I’m an ethnographer of White folks and their antics and this is an open letter letting them know that I peep them, I see them and I’m taking notes.
Because the second season of Dear White People was just released on Netflix (which I just started binge watching) this message seems right on time. I realize that liberal White folks see racism as something explicit and overt so I’m going to take this time to discuss three things that y’all may not see as racist, perpetuating racism or assisting institutional racism but it is.
Here’s my list of things I need liberal Whites to stop saying because y’all got me fucked up if you think I don’t know what this shit really means. Language is a powerful tool but it can also be a powerful weapon. So without further ado,
Dear Liberal Wypipo,
I’ma need for y’all to…
Retire the phrase, “hearts and minds.” I recently attended a PEN Writing Festival event at the Brooklyn Museum to see Professor and staff writer of The New Yorker, Jelani Cobb in conversation with author and poet, Gregory Pardlo and MacArthur Genius and writer for the New York Times Magazine, Nikole Hannah Jones. The event was called “Where do we go from here?” in light of the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination. Where do we go as a nation considering that not much has changed for Black people?
During Q&A, which was pretty painful because people ask terrible questions, one White woman asked the panelists, “How do we go about changing the hearts and minds of White people?” I completely tuned Gregory Pardlo out as I’m not really familiar with his work and his responses let me know why I haven’t been. He was too kumbaya and spewing shit about Black people taking responsibility for their own actions even when they ain’t doing shit. So yeah, I pressed mental mute when he spoke throughout most of the program.
However, it was Nikole Hannah Jones (the only Black woman up there, I might add) who just cut straight to the point and basically said that she wasn’t interested in hearts and minds, she was concerned about ACTION! The amount of mmmhmm’s coming from the audience made it clear that wasn’t nobody concerned about no fucking hearts and minds.
If I asked most liberal Whites about their hearts and minds, they’re gonna say their hearts are pure and their minds are woke which is absolutely false. How do we know this? Because when it comes time for Whites to prove that they believe in equality, they disappoint with their actions. Case in point, y’all see Harlem? I remember never seeing a White person on any train past 96th street. All of a sudden, they getting off on 125th and a lot of them are making their way up to Washington Heights. Ask those same White people where their kids go to school and I bet you it ain’t in a public school in District 5 (Central Harlem.)
Changing hearts and minds is a way of giving White people more time to be racist. We don’t have all of the time in the world to think about hearts and minds. Our history shows that Whites (even the progressive ones) only integrated when forced to by law and many of them died without a change of heart and mind. Change usually has to be imposed on Whites for them to fall in line. So I’m sorry Wypipo, this shit sounds like some “just be patient and White folks will come around nonsense.” I’m full. I don’t want seconds of that.
Hearts and Minds
Sunrise: When a White person made it up
Sunset: May 7, 2018
Stop patting yourselves on the back for liking inclusion and diversity: White liberals love to tell their other White liberal friends about how diverse something was that they attended, whether that’s a neighborhood, a restaurant, a cultural event and of course, schools. Apparently they’re one of the good ones because they value diversity.
This has always fucked with my mind because I think a distinction needs to be made between including people of color and inviting people of color. Most White people do the latter but they believe they’re doing the former. Black and Brown people are invited to work in your spaces and basically mimic whiteness. We are made to feel like guests in a place where we pay rent. The only time Black and Brown people’s cultures are acknowledged and encouraged is at a potluck. I’m sorry, White folks, but you don’t get to love my curry but you don’t want to smell it in your apartment building.
The best example of non-inclusion at work is holiday parties. If you have ever had to go off-site for a holiday party, it’s always going to be in a space that is comfortable for White people. Lots of beer, un-danceable music and subpar wings. No one wants to go uptown and dance Bachata or dutty wine in Brooklyn. People of color are people of movement. We don’t stand still and drink. However, these things are usually not discussed because it’s not convenient for everyone (everyone being the melanin deficient people.)
I want to go back to this hearts and mind conversation for a minute. As an educator, I have many friends in education on my social media page. Less than two weeks ago, all I saw on my timeline were videos posted and comments everywhere about some parents in District 3 (the Upper West Side of Manhattan) who were adamantly opposed to having poor Black and Brown students enter their schools.
This has been an issue for some time, especially in that neighborhood. All the White folks are afraid that time, money and energy are going to be wasted on Black kids and their safe and academically thriving school communities are going to be ravished with bullet shells, watermelon seeds and burnt books (because Black people don’t read.)
Did they say that? They didn’t have to. Their actions proved how much they didn’t want “those kids” in their school. They gathered in that school the way White teenage girls gather to see Taylor Swift. They showed the fuck up to let it be known that they want to keep their schools White and the non-Whites who want to get in better tighten up their performance of Whiteness or else they won’t be getting a callback.
So I’m good on the whole inclusion/diversity con. Lastly…
Remove the word disgusting from your vocabulary. I’m not gonna spend a lot of time discussing this but I think it’s safe to say that liberal White folks overuse this word especially when pointing out overt racism. Dylan Roof is disgusting. Trump is disgusting. Oh and school segregation is disgusting…unless you’re referring to their child’s school, then it’s all good.
One of the things that I’ve noticed about liberal Whites is that they are great at pointing out when someone else is racist but they are Stevie Wonder when it comes to their own shit. There are White people who watched that video of the district 3 parents and wagged their fingers and called them disgusting several times as they stood on line at Trader Joe’s talking to their friend who mirrored their reaction. All of that, while probably refusing to acknowledge the Black or Brown cashier, not acknowledging that their children don’t have any Black friends and texting their Trump-supporting friend about their dinner plans. All of those things are also disgusting.
Here’s a tip: reserve that word for when you’re describing really bad pizza or how you feel after you realize you’ve eaten something with gluten in it. Otherwise, retire the word disgusting. It’s insufficient and it’s ineffective. What do you plan to DO about those disgusting behaviors?
Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
To My White Liberal Educators:
– What are you doing to be part of the solution? Do you even realize that you are sometimes part of the problem even when it isn’t intentional? I’m not suggesting that all White liberals are cooking up some maniacal plan to ruin Black and Brown kids’ lives but the impact will be the same if you don’t take a step back and reflect.
– I recently gave a PD about the importance of student agency to a group of predominantly White educators. They looked at me like my fingernail was dangling over a button to shoot a nuke just for asking them to give their mostly Black and Brown students control over their learning and classroom discussions. They couldn’t fathom giving any power to their kids. Problematic much? Do you share those feelings?
– What’s the plan to be a more culturally responsive educator and are you even thinking about that as you prepare your lessons?
– If you want to be a better White person, check other White people and more importantly, check yourself. I know some dope White people (not many) who are doing just that. They are friends of mine and they take this work seriously. Decide which side you’re really on.
To all my educators, remember to