Playing the Denial card: Yes. All. Whites.

Georgia NeSmith
7 min readMar 28, 2020
News Photo AP 1957

People of color are often charged with “Playing the Race Card” whenever they try to explain to a white person how the dynamic of racism works into interactions between blacks and whites in everyday culture.

Frustrated with an answer that utterly misunderstands what is being said, I turned it around to say they are “Playing the Denial Card.” Which means: every time a person of color or a white defender of people of color talk about racism, white people (both liberal and supremacist) defend themselves with this cliche that makes calling out racism seem trivial at best.

White people (and a few blacks, like Ben Carson) play this “card” daily.

Now, don’t give me this but…but…but… “not all whites” yada yada thing. It may be true that some white people openly acknowledge that racism exists and sincerely fight against racism. Nonetheless we remain beneficiaries of our white privilege.

Before I go on, I must make a confession: I used to do the “not all whites” argument a lot myself…until a big, bright, glowing lightbulb burst over my head. And the shards pricked both my conscience and my consciousness.

It doesn’t matter one bit in the whole scheme of things whether some whites do something to fight against racism. It doesn’t matter whether we believe our minds are free of racist thoughts. It doesn’t matter if there’s a small but growing minority of whites who “get it.”

A photo from

These paragraphs below are specifically aimed at white people displeased by the anti-racist language used when black people and/or persons of color speak disparagingly of “white people” and the harm they cause without even thinking.

It’s not about you (fellow/sister white person) or me or any of the minority of white people who claim to be “woke.” It’s not about what *you or I* do or say or think or intend, or what other exceptional white people might do or say or think or intend, but rather about what it *feels like* to be on the receiving end of a racist “doing” whether or not it’s consciously intended as racist.

Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.