Dear Liberal Wypipo: Y’all Got Us F’ed Up and Fed Up

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.

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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?

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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.

R.I.P.
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…

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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
Rise
Read
Reimagine
Resist
Repeat.

Posted in Anti Racism, Teacher as Activist.

8 Comments

  1. Awesome read as always. I had never seen that video before on the upper west side schools so that definitely was an eye opener although not really surprised. All those people you mentioned remind me of the white people I’ve always worked with. Lol and you’re right they LOVE LOVE LOVE to use the word disgusting to talk about racism as if they’re not the reason my rent increased by $200. Anyway continue to uplift and empower our educators I know they appreciate these blogs as much as I do. Love ya!

  2. This is powerful! As a white striving-to-be-anti-racist educator…I feel super “called-in” and have so many thoughts. 1) Thank you for speaking this truth! 2) I am listening, and working hard to get other white people to listen, too! I attended an anti-racism training where one of the facilitators said that “White people are socialized/taught not to take direction/leadership from POC.” I felt socked-in-the-gut with defensiveness “that’s not true for me” as I had amazingly strong black female teachers in 2nd, and 5th-7th grades, and 3 black conductors (2 male & 1 female) that I adored…but I realized that the presenter was right! AND MY own resistance/denial was in wanting to distance myself from the “real racists” and be one of the “woke”/”good whites.” I realize this is not helpful, and harmful…and continue on the journey realizing everyday how “woke” isn’t a destination, and that this is a life-long journey (think growth mindset) AND I completely agree that “hearts and minds” IS NOT ENOUGH!! I am in the fight …want to be a co-conspirator. Thank you!!!!

    This also really resonated with me:
    “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?” My response feels like 1) not enough, and 2) yes. Working on this nearly all day every day.

  3. Thank you!You thoughts are poinyant and quite candidly speak to our concerns. You get to the core of the issues and your truth…our truth….consistently inspires me be vigilant about speaking out and bringing light to microagressions and overtly subtle racist behavior.

  4. That meme tho! Yessssss. Super on point.

    As usual I was hollering throughout this post. These two sentences had me cackling on train this morning: “I’m full. I don’t want seconds of that.” and “reserve that word for… how you feel after you realize you’ve eaten something with gluten in it.” BYEE! LMAO!

    That being said I love when you wrote, “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.)” This is so indicative of what they consider acceptable/unacceptable for themselves and their kids. However, what they consider to be acceptable/unacceptable for black and brown people is much differnet, to say the least.

    Another great point was when you wrote, “Black and Brown people are invited to work in your spaces and basically mimic whiteness.” Mimicking whiteness to me immediately reminded me of the coded language around what being a “professional” means. I’ve read countless times that being a professional means looking the part. In other words, having neat hair, short nails, and using certain language. So my unruly curly hair, Bronx mami nails (with no shortage of acrylic and rhinestones huntyyyyyy) and vernacular immediately put me on the outs. I am automatically othered, and I have to put the real me on a shelf if I want to be considered “professional.” Why are we being told to give up parts of our identity?

    That being said liberal wypipo have to educate themselves more (shocker!!! Sike….), and also allow themselves to be uncomfortable when they learn that they too have contributed to the problem. It requires an incredible amount of humility, but like a real New Yawka would say whenever you going through some shit, “you’ll be iight.”

    #BXAllDay BRRRRRRRRRT YEEERRRR!!!!

  5. Ohh yes! Can the church say, AMEN!?! #andanotherthing Liberals, please stop telling me how you know how much privilege you have as a white person, and then pretending you’re sick with the weight of this privilege, but your going to wield it to “help” me.” Acknowledging your agency is nothing if you don’t keep your privilege in check and stop it before it humiliates, offends, and YES, oppresses someone of color. Just because you can speak of your privilege (when other deny it) does not mean you aren’t constantly abusing it.

    DO NOT, “speak for me” or give me directives because, you “know the message will be heard” from you and you’ve figured out what I “need to do”. Know this to be true, I, as a black educated woman, have agency as well. The moment you think you’ve come to “save” me is the moment- I’ve identified that YOU are here to oppress me. Self praise is NO recommendation. Go ahead and mediate on that- that will change your heart and mind. But if you want to be and STAY woke, show me through self reflection and deliberate action. That’s how you can SUPPORT. Because the only person you are fooling is yourself.

    Thank you Khalya, as you might have gleaned from my very focused commentary, this was very relevant to me based on recent events. As usual.

    Peace and blessing.

  6. Khalya hot dammit you done did it again! This blog resonated with me all too well! I share the same sentiments as you in terms of white people using certain “buzz” words like disgusting to describe racially charged behaviors, but do not serve as a catalyst to disrupt such action. While other buzz words like “snarky” is used to mask their true feelings. Upon reading and saying it, doesn’t the word snarky comes across as harmless? Ohhhh he’s just a little snarky, ohhh don’t mind her she tends to be snarky at times. The word snarky was tossed around my work environment several times, until ultimately I decided to look it up, after I confided in one of my white colleagues about the micro aggressive response I received from another white colleague. First mistake, don’t confide in white folks, they always stand by their own, especially when their own is just being snarky. I was disturbed that such harmless word could even be used to describe my colleague’s egregious response to me. According to New Oxford Dictionary, snarky is defined as form of sarcasm, but when it crosses the line such comment can be taken as snide. White folks need to save their snarky ass comments for their snarky ass white friends. Because when directed towards black folks, it always crosses the line and when it does, it has a racist undertone or can be interpreted as a micro aggression. So in essence black folks RUN away from any white person who has been described as snarky, or prepare to be subjected to offensive racially charged remarks. I could go on but Khalya you really hit the nail on the head with this one!

  7. Khalya-Superb and thank you for your voice and wisdom.
    Microagressions are all around us. This piece made me think about an experience I had just two days ago. I was on the Q train heading to Brooklyn after along day of scoring math exams on 76th street. If you don’t know, the Q train is not the most diverse train after 42nd street when headed uptown to its last stop-96th street. This also makes me think why there are no current plans to extend the Q line to 125th street/2nd ave as planned, like I said, not a very diverse train (You want diversity, ride the 4,5,6 line). I digress, so on the Q train a white saxophone musician came in the train car at 72nd street and starting playing a Jackson 5 song. All of a sudden, a white man screamed, “hey, hey, next car, Next car, take that kind of music to the next car, I don’t won’t to hear it!” The musician continued to play while the man screamed and then the musician approached the man and said, “I bet you got everything you’ve wanted your whole life!” Now you know in these situations, folks of color make eye contact with one another. All of a sudden everyone started digging in their purses and pockets looking for change to give this musician. We all knew what the man meant when he yelled at the musician to leave.
    This brings me to the point made in the piece about where you talk about the writer who said blacks need to take responsibility for their actions. We are the only group of people that are asked to forgive their oppressor and pull yourself up out of the situation your in even though your really not responsible for it. We are always asked to answer the call of uplifting humanity, lightening the spirit, and saving the soul-Why? I am happy that this piece puts the hard work and ownership of change on the folks that really need to change their mindset. Until then, people of color will do what we do, remain vigilant, resilient, and magical.

  8. You are phenomenal! I couldn’t even let my mind finish reading a sentence before I was yelling, YES! YES! EXACTLY! I KNOW RIGHT! This post and I’m sure many others will be my thoughts in your words! I am so EMPOWERED and LIBERATED! I started reading this on my bed, but at:

    “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”.

    Listen! My spirit was through the roof!!! This needs to be a Daily News letter. My son’s whyte teacher called him a “white supremacist” due to him having a misinformed understanding of the “Decolonizing Education Initiative”. I’m still in the midst of that BS currently. It was a negative intro to the movement but, one I would not have become aware of had this atrocity had not occured.

    Thank you for your transparency, authenticity, and truth!

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