Georgia NeSmith
4 min readAug 8, 2021


Replying to Marley 8/8/2021

I keep trying to cut the paragraphs below about my problem with Medium technology, but it keeps popping on up. It needs to be deleted because...guess what? It's all about ME.

SKIP THIS HERE....DA-A-A-A-M-M-N-N-N!!!!!! I did it AGAIN! I lost my comment TWICE (the first a bit long; the second just a few lines) as I navigated away from this page (still leaving it open, tho) looking for a supportive link or two, and when I came back...POOOOF!

I do not understand why Medium automatically saves drafts of our articles as we compose, but apparently regards comments as too "unimportant" to save automatically. SMH.

AND I forgot my decision to compose these outside of Medium because of this. (She says while the light bulb flashes: SAVE THIS!!) OK, done. WHEW! Doing this in my Notes app now.

////////TO HERE /////////////////////

I did this piece a while back. Unfortunately, it remains all too timely--as is clear from several of the responses here from white people. Since I know few will bother to follow the link, I excerpt key points here. Hope you don't mind. I'm not trying to steal your thunder. Just arguing here with the white folk who still insist on saying "Not all whites!" and refusing to hear what you actually say.

Playing the Denial card: Yes, all whites.

The heart of the matter…

QUOTE: When a black person or person of color talks about “white people” and the harm they cause without even thinking, it’s not about you or me or any of the minority of white people who are “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 what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a racist “doings” regardless of whether it’s consciously intended as racist.

We (that is, white people) do not control what happens in the daily lives of black people. We do not control the context of living black in a white world — which is the only context they have for interpreting OUR doings and sayings.

We. Are. Not. Present.

We don’t live daily in the context of constant bombardment by the same “doings” of racist acts and words. We don’t live in a world where those “doings” can often signal physical and emotional danger.

However righteous a small minority of white people might be, we have no understanding of what it feels like to live black in a white world. When we say “not all whites,” we aren't saying anything they don’t already know.

When we argue “not all whites,” we say: “I can’t hear your pain.”

We say, “the pain I feel when it seems you include me in your description of white people is more important to me than your pain of experiencing racism daily.

And besides…it can’t really be all that bad, can it? I mean, for realz.

Even if/when we acknowledge our privilege, that privilege doesn’t go away. We still own it.

Saying “not all whites” when the subject is someone else’s pain & grief prioritizes our pain over theirs, changing the subject to us. Centering OUR experiences, OUR identities.

We demand the opportunity to explain why what we said or did that caused the person pain, because our feelings about what we see as a false accusation must come first.

....In the process, we minimize the impact of racist institutional power.

White people (including me) really don't know how to listen to black people and people of color.

I've been working on that for quite some time myself, and I know I'm getting better. I also know I don't always grasp how my words could be heard as racist--especially given 400+ years of repetition.

Indeed, several years back I received a very tough critique from a Native American who chastised me for some things I said that I thought were supportive.

After I read her critique, I cried and cried and cried my good ol' white tears, and even started to write a "white tears" reply. Fortunately I remembered the "white tears" thing, dried my tears, and put on my thinking cap to figure out, and to finally HEAR her words.

Yep. She was right.

From then on I've been doing a lot more listening, beginning with the self-question: under what circumstances can what I've said be easily perceived as racist by people who experience racism daily.

It requires a complete flip:

Start with the assumption that the criticism is true, and think through how and why a black person or person of color might experience what I've said as racist. I know I can never grasp the whole of it. But I can work toward coming as close as I can, pushing myself one more step toward understanding.



Georgia NeSmith

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