As I’ve become more publicly vocal about my support of #blacklivesmatter my posts have received a lot of commentary from white men which can best be summed up as tone policing.
Social media posts that attacked my use of the term “white privilege”, denied that white fragility exists, accused me of being racist, and of posting performative #blm posts, and calling what I had to say “rhetoric”.
For a couple of days I questioned whether the tone of some of my responses was appropriate for a coach & teacher. I limited the post visibility while I considered this. But now I’m owning my limited outbursts, and making the posts visible again because of the thinking I did.
And I say this:
I’ve been in the fight for equity longer than some of you have been alive.
As a small child I stood in line in front of an empty store while my mother ran home to get her ration book, so that we could get whatever it was the store had. Because the oppressive regime we were occupied by was creating artificial food shortages to keep the population under control.
That same Communist regime had robbed me of my paternal grandfather, who was tortured into mental illness and died before I was born. I also never knew my maternal grandfather, because he perished at the hands of the Nazis.
Have you ever been separated from your family and thrown in a jail cell overnight for no other reason than being from the “wrong” country? I have. And I was a minor at the time.
Have you ever petitioned a European Government to allow someone to stay despite the immigration laws, because returning them to their home country was to send them to a strange land? I have. The petition succeeded.
Have you ever taken the US Government to court over a racist immigration decision, despite the risk of losing meaning you couldn’t enter the country again for another 10 years? I have. And we won the case.
Have you spent a significant portion of your private and professional life being the ONLY person of your race and gender in the room? I have. It really is perspective-changing.
And: I know that if my skin was black the likelihood of me winning those cases would have plummeted to pretty much zero. And if my skin was black I’m pretty sure I would not have emerged unscathed from that jail cell. And if my skin was black I know I would not have been listened to the same way in those rooms.
So, white men you can miss me with your sidestepping of your own white entitlement and privilege, and your use of semantic argument to deflect your discomfort. And you can miss me with your racist “facts” being dropped on my pages for me to disprove. And you can miss me all the way over there with your tone policing. I will use whatever language I damn well please. I have every right to be angry - for myself as well as on behalf of the Black community.
And before you hit me with your “yeah but” self-defense, do us ALL a favor and stop being so lazy and willfully ignorant. Read the books, watch the movies, do the workshops.
Stop littering other people’s pages with your privilege.
Do your own internal work.
And stop talking.
Because right now the only community whose opinion I’m interested in is the Black community.