I have a saying…
Racist is as racist does.
And one’s intent is irrelevant. Because the pain one caused will not be erased by one’s supposed intent. It still cuts like a rusty razor blade, deep and bloody.
Thankfully I’ve grown out of the typical white defensiveness moves you list Except I NEVER accused anyone of being “overly sensitive,” having been accused many times of being over-sensitive on a plethora of issues. The problem isn’t over-sensitivity, it’s UNDER-sensitivity!
I’ve learned a lot from some really terrific black and Latinx friends, listening to them speak/write [not by interrogating them…just listening].
Even that doesn’t make me “not racist.” So I welcome criticism because I learn from it, and I’ll do better the next time. That’s my absolute commitment. It may hurt. My gut may say it’s unjust & I might feel like striking out in self-defense. I might even cry.
But I must keep those tears to myself. I will not demand that any person of color soothe my white fragility. Those tears are MY problem. That hurt is MY problem. It’s my responsibility to learn from them. I will find my way through, sorting out where those feelings come from, then make a sincere apology after I’ve sorted out what I did. No defense. No explanation. Just “I’m sorry. Thank you for calling me out. I will do better.”
I also do my best to explain to my white cohorts what they’ve done wrong. Sadly, white people tend to listen to that criticism better when it comes from a white person [and there’s that racism again], but even so, some will run. Like my next youngest brother who griped about being called racist when we have a mixed race niece & nephew, lived with Myrlie Evers two doors up from us in Claremont CA, card carrying ACLU member…yada yada.
I explained to him in a lengthy, detailed post on FB [where he’d posted his complaint] referencing our shared childhoods & why that is NOT enough— among other things pointing out that white people don’t have the authority to define what racism is because we’ve never experienced it.
He not only unfriended me, he made it impossible for me to even find his name on FB.
Oh well. Others in my family have disowned me for other reasons. Might as well lose the last holdout.
I hope this doesn’t sound too braggadocio. I may be too proud of the work I’ve done so I sound like “I’m better than most white people Nyah Nyah Nyah!” I probably sometimes jump in too quickly when I should let the person of color speak first, then follow with support. Gotta work on that impatience.
I just want to affirm what DarkLadySky says to my white bretheren who won’t listen to people like her on the subject because of their #1 racist attitude: they won’t grant people of color the authority to speak definitively on racism. Cuz white people should have an “equal chance” to say what it is and how it works. I mean, aren’t we supposed to be equal? Don’t we get equal say? [sarcasm]
My latest Medium article on racism…
“I am not a racist” but I have racist tho’ts I don’t know are racist. Colorblindness IS racist.
Letter on white privilege written to defend a black friend of mine.
Hope you’ll give it a read when you have a chance. I welcome critique, but don’t require it.
I also have a few others published on Medium, and am right now in the midst of a veritable frenzy.