The amount of white whine in comments for the poster about racism and “fair skin” is kind of making me facepalm so much right now.
Oh, fellow white people. That ad? Was mild. It was a mild and rather polite way of trying to tell you something that’s been an obvious fact of life for so many others in this world. But instead of engaging, you react defensively because, well, you have no idea how to conceive of a world where white entitlement isn’t an unqualified good.
And frankly, the Jane Elliott video? Also mild. The woman only really raised her voice and spoke in a slightly brusque tone. Like one of the students of color said in her interview, no one hit them or anything.
Yet, those white students cried and got angry and generally threw fits.
If I could impress one thing upon my fellow white folks? It would be that PoC/non-white folks have been impressively patient with us. They have not even begun to be as harsh as we deserve.
They have not taken us en masse and traded us as slaves, dividing us up, putting us up for auction, parading us naked and separated from family, friends, and community and inspected us like cattle.
They have not armed themselves and rounded us up, exiling us from our homes and telling us that a government we do not even recognize has declared that we must live in some totally strange place.
They have not stolen our children and tried to eradicate all semblance of white culture, language, heritage and history from them, killing, maiming and traumatizing so many in the process.
They have not used us, without our knowledge and consent, in cruel medical experiments meant to benefit them while leaving us scarred, barren, maimed, and sometimes dead.
They have not taken sacred bits of our lives, the songs we sing to our deities or the clothing we wear when we consecrate the things most precious to us and sold them as cheap trinkets and accessories.
They have not used our hair and eyes and general skin tone to describe the things they hate, the things they consider ugly or filled magazines, pictures, and aisles full of products for themselves while leaving very little or no space for us and the things we need to match our skin tone, our hair types.
They have not posted sign after sign in the businesses and establishments they own or control, telling us we’re not welcome, telling us we must only come through the back door, telling us we may only use this restroom over here or this water fountain.
They have not taken white men who leered, cat called, or otherwise looked wrong at a woman of color and surrounded him with a mob and beat him, tortured him, and hung his body up high as an example of what happens to white men who dare to attack the sanctity of women of color.
They have not put up walls and fences and borders to keep us divided and then punished us and dehumanized us if we walk across it, seeking resources because they have taken so much from our homes even as they use us for cheap, disposable labor that they find beneath them.
They have not provided billions of dollars worth of weapons, bombs, personnel to our enemies to help them exterminate us.
They have not attempted genocide against us.
They have not patrolled the streets of their neighborhoods and communities and towns, pulling over, arresting, beating, or shooting any white person who looks remotely suspicious or shooting those white people who are already on the ground, prone and surrendering and called it justified.
They have not had white mothers so terrified for their sons that they hug them at night when they see the news, knowing that even if their sons behave perfectly they still might fall prey to simply being the wrong color and in the wrong place at the wrong time and die for it.
They have not hoarded the wealth of the country and then complained when we tried to get enough to feed our families.
They have not sterilized us against our will or talked about how we ought not to have children anymore.
They have not forced us into poorer and poorer living conditions, driving us from neighborhoods so that they can remodel and remake it according to the tastes of the richest among them.
They have not created institutions, societies, organizations, and philosophies based on how inferior we are as human beings.
Yet we, white people, have done all this and more to them. The list of things they have not done to us could take up posts and posts and posts because it is so long and so horrendous.
And yet they have approached us with more respect, patience, and tolerance than we have any right to expect. More than we could possibly deserve.
So when you see these ads or exercises like the ones Jane Elliott conducts or other such things meant to try to communicate to you that you need to rethink whiteness and the way you act and operate in the world, you need to accept with gratitude and humility. You need to take it to heart and then offer a genuine thank you to any person of color who even bothers with you.
And then you need to take action. On your time, dime, and in your own space to make sure that PoC don’t have to keep bothering with you. Because they shouldn’t have to.