Written by Marley K.
I compiled a list of some annoying, creepy, inconsiderate, insulting, and/or disrespectful things some White people do which stresses me and other Black people out. I understand many of these things on my list aren’t necessarily intentional, but the intent of the actions don’t matter. The perception does. Your intentions can injure.
Practice doing no harm.
Say Not All White People. I know. I know. We’re not blaming all White people when we say White people.. I’m not talking about all White people, just the White people who do the uncomfortable and embarrassing stuff on this list and those who continue to believe they aren’t racist. But since you must come here to defend White people, Please read this first before you continue Take a day or two to meditate on it, then come back to read this list.
Hijacking movements. I’m not even going there. Yes, I am. The Civil Rights Movement protected Blacks, but was hijacked by White women who dragged in everything they cared about to ensure they protected it. Now, everything is centered on White women. Everything. Black Lives Matter was to address Black lives mattering. Ya’ll took that and created All Lives Matter because God forbid we try to bring attention to ourselves, diverting attention from White people. #MeToo was for Black girls being sexually abused. You took that from us and made it about White women. Can we have something, please?
White people, please stop this and even if you don’t do it, it is your job to stop your collective group from doing this. Every song or cry doesn’t have to be White centered. You don’t need a movement. You should move over and give others the space to protest. Look, listen, act. Don’t co-opt or outright steal a movement and they pretend it’s yours. Pirates do that stuff.
Locking the doors when Black people walk by your cars. You don’t have to say a word. The locks locking as we pass by your vehicles tell us exactly how you feel about us. I’m trying to go into the store and get my salad stuff for dinner. I’m not thinking about entering your car. Our minds aren’t on you, your car, or whatever you believe is valuable. Decenter yourselves please and stop being afraid of people already. Most Black people’s parents have taught them early on there’s a very high price to pay if a White person accuses you of something. We aren’t trying to ruin our lives.
Clutching your purses when I walk by. No matter how broke I am or how empty my bank account is, I never, EVER think of robbing you. You don’t have to clutch anything when I pass.
Not moving on the sidewalk. I know you see me right. They made normal sidewalks for two people to walk on, in two different directions, at the same time. Why do you all feel I need to move for you, especially women? If you’re walking with your little White friend, how about one of you kindly move to the back or front and not inconvenience the person walking in the correct direction? I notice you White ladies I’m talking about never move, and you never think of moving. You stay in your place expecting the Black person to move out of your way. I see you flexing your White girl card from 1760.
Blocking aisles in stores. I know see me trying to get by, yet you stand in the aisles and read your packages or text on your phone exercising all your White privilege. It makes you look like a racist. At the very least your parents raised a spoiled brat who has grown up to become a very inconsiderate adult. Move over, please. You gotta share this world with us. I know your parents probably told you it was yours and you can do anything you want. Well, you can’t!
Not moving when I say excuse me. Not sure what that’s about, but if excuse me isn’t enough to make you move, I don’t know what else to do. Guess you’re waiting on me to bump you as I pass by so you can call the cops and say I assaulted you. What in the hell? If you’d stop ignoring us, being irritated by us, or acting like we don’t exist maybe you’d hear our excuse me’s and would move accordingly. It happens too often to be just a coincidence. You’re taught you don’t have to move while, we’re taught good manners to avoid your wrath. Could you all please work on being more self-aware and more aware of our efforts to move politely throughout the world? We’d appreciate.
Act like our saviors on the interweb. I know you’re used to saving us. Many of you have been taught early White people need to correct us non-White people because we are genetically inferior. We have our own minds; we have our own thoughts, and we see your actions and behaviors differently. Some of us don’t see you all as saviors, we see you as problems and major obstacles to progress upward mobility, and equality. Your savior views aren’t the right views, just White views.
White people will flip out on us in a heartbeat, like as soon as we call them out for their racism or centering Whiteness. It’s always shocking. Always hurtful, but always expected. I’m shocked when a White person doesn’t get angry and/or flip out. It shows us you’re matured in your anti-racism walk.
Closing doors in my face. It doesn’t matter if you hurry and up so the door can close in my face. I’m STILL coming into that space behind you. Your racist little microaggressions don’t go unnoticed. It signals you don’t respect me and you are not conscious of my being because I’m not White. We get the picture.
Show their children anything non-White is bad/strange. I see how your kids act when you haven’t exposed them to “different” people enough. They act like they’ve seen a ghost when I get close to them. Heavens forbid if I speak or smile. Your kids act like I’m getting ready to kidnap them or like my Black may rub off. They act just the way you taught them to. Your kids look at me and other Black folks in fear like we’re aliens. Visit places of color and interact with people from different ethnic groups to become true global citizens.
Don’t listen, can’t hear either. Self explanatory. You don’t listen to anyone except White people, even if they are wrong, because you only respect the voices and views of White people. When non-White people try to tell you how we feel, just be quiet and listen. If you’re a decent parent, would you slap your kid, watch him/her cry, tell them to shut up, then not want to hear why the kid was angry about what you did to them later on sometime? You can’t beat people down and oppress them, then expect them to be silent.
Rewrite history. Some White people never see what Black people see, and they always have a different version of our national history, especially how this nation has treated non-White people.
Talk to us disrespectfully online. Can’t tell you how tired I am of White women and men calling me crazy, reinterpreting my words, creating new definitions for the dictionaries their own people created, and talking to me and other Black people in ways we aren’t taught to speak to other adults. Our parents teach us at an early age not to speak to White people any kind of way because we’d be beaten, killed, or imprisoned. That physical power dynamic you once held has evolved into cyber-bullying Black people online. It’s another way you show how little respect you have for others and how much privilege you posses. Some of you White men are extremely condescending, and we know you do it intentionally to intimidate and bully.
Put money over humanity. Many White people choose their money over humanity. You’ll get on television and boldly share you will support anyone who will help you get richer, even if that person is for killing your Black or Brown neighbors and co-workers. It’s hard to unsee how quickly White folks will stab a Black in the back for the potential of growing $5,000 in imaginary money in a 401K, then turn around and tell us they believe in equal rights and fairness. That’s cognitive dissonance buddy. America’s obsessions with wealth is bringing us down. You can’t consume or retire your way out of this mess.
Ask me to trust you. You consistently ask me to trust you and your leadership choices when you know they don’t care about me or my issues. Every time we Black folks trust White people to do the right thing for us when they have power or are in positions of trust, they find a way to benefit from that position for personal or collective gain. White people often benefit from our suffering caused by inequality, and they seem unfazed about it. It’s hard to trust with the history we have together and the lack of effort to stop doing the things that create distrust. There are some good, trustworthy White people in the world. You need to stop being bullied and shamed by the bad people. Speak up.
Strongly suggest who we should vote for. We used to vote to make you happy, but we’re learning our interests are really different from your. Some of you vote in ways that harm us directly and indirectly. You all even vote to hurt yourselves as long as someone you dislike is hurt in the process. Again, how can we trust your decisions if you all just bark orders without taking into consideration what we need? Inequality makes us see things differently. When we start seeing you make sacrifices instead of calculated risks politically and financially, perhaps we will begin to feel better about your decision-making.
Forget my name. Funny how you can remember the pretty White girl’s name and face, but me, not so much. Love that. I just love that. We either all look alike or you’ve been conditioned by your sanitized environments to believe if it’s a Black face, it’s not important. We remember you, but for different reasons. Sometimes it’s for our own protection or because we must rely on you. I used to go to church with White folks Sunday who would hug me on Sunday and walk right past me in Walmart afterwards like they didn’t know me. If having relationships with Black people matters to you, remembering our faces and names would really help.
Asking me for help when I’m trying to shopping. I am not the help. Before you open your mouths to ask me where something is in the store, look at my clothes, look at the purse on my arm, look to see I don’t have store frocks on my butt for goodness sake. Go look around or go find someone who looks like they actually belong to the store instead of assuming every Brown face works to serve you. I see White people do it all the time.
Sometimes I really wonder what’s on your mind when ya’ll do that old antebellum mess. I know you may feel it’s not a big deal, but there is a history behind your actions. Ask yourselves why you stop to ask the Black or Brown people first.
Whitesplain. Please stop. I know what I think. I know how to speak. I know what I want to say. I know how I feel. Don’t tell me how to do any of these things and please don’t challenge me if I don’t see eye to eye with you. It’s okay for us to disagree, and we know that’s very hard for many White people to accept. Sometimes you should just move on instead of injecting yourselves into Black conversations if you can’t add value. We don’t need you to come redirecting traffic to recenter everything on you. Besides, you make people not want to engage which encourages ignorance. It also silences minorities who would love to talk too. I love healthy dialogue. I like disagreement. I dislike how some of you speak to me, your tone, and your need to micromanage our words and thoughts.
Backstabbing and ignoring me in the workplace. I have never worked on a job where White women haven’t stabbed me in my back, stole my ideas, sabotaged my nonprofit, or undermined me when I was a supervisor. Never. Women are the biggest workplace bullies because their indirect shenanigans go unseen or tolerated as women just being women. White women you’re the icing on the bully cake too often.
Too many of you think you don’t have to answer to Black women or respect us, and you’d rather tear us down than to help a sister out. I also hate when I suggest something and it’s ignored by a group of White people, but when White Bob or White Jane suggests the same thing, you all hear it and think it’s a wonderful idea. It shows you don’t listen to or hear Black people in your White spaces. Backstabbing in the workplace creates inequality and division. It’s evil too. Just stop please.
Suspect and harass us. I’m riding on the elevator and here comes Elevator Ellen telling another White women on the elevator she needed to be careful. Ain’t I a woman? We can hardly do anything or go anywhere without being suspected of something. You’ve been trained to gaze us differently. Please retrain yourselves.
Ignore the diversity and inclusions initiatives you create. Nothing pisses me off more than White people creating workplace and program initiatives to bring more diversity and inclusion, then you all undermine your own diversity and inclusion efforts by engaging in tokenism and allowing White people to be overtly racist without being checked. Diversity does not address equality/inequality in pay or hiring. We’re tired of your performative diversity and inclusion efforts. It’s not improving the pay gap. Either you’re for equality or not. Intentionally sprinkling Black and Brown people around the office isn’t doing anything to achieve equality. It’s just making a white space a little dingy.
Engage in tokenism in television and entertainment. If I had a dollar for every time, I watched a television show with a truckload of White people and only one little Black or Brown person, I’d be rich. Tokenism is the equivalent of the diversity and inclusion illusion. While you’re busy being colorblind, I can see your lack of color inclusion in your lives. When I see tokenism in action on my television or hear it on my radio, I know immediately who wrote the script for it. Period. One in a sea of White is not diversity. It’s tokenism.
Appropriate our culture. Many of you hate our Black and Brown skins, but you love our words, our slang, music, food, and styles. Nothing burns me up more than seeing your children disrespecting and fearing us saying we’re bad, but you’ll allow the to wear the same clothes, hats, and shoes we wear, the way we wear them. I’m saddened by your kids using Black slang from our music, and yet you teach them we are inferior, you teach the to disrespect culture. You teach them it’s okay to cross the line to look like they hang around Black kids but they don’t really have to. Funny how we’re bad for you until we’re good for you.
Get scared if too many Black people are in any space you’re in. You should see your faces. Watching your unnecessary angst is hilarious. They way you hold on to your kids, and all the extra stuff you do to prepare to come to our spaces is too much. If you came around more often, you wouldn’t be so afraid. We’re not afraid when we must venture into your spaces even though you guys do a lot to keep intimidate the hell out of us when we’re there. Go get some therapy. Attend anti-racism trainings. Go to Black spaces. Get some Black friends and go sit in their homes. Read White anti-racism authors like Robin DiAngelo, Tim Wise, or the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance. Face your fears, don’t hide from them.
Not speak when I live in your neighborhood. I know many of you hate to see us move in to your little neighborhoods still in 2020 because you’ve been taught we make your community’s value go down. Who came up with that bullshit? I wave like a good neighbor, and ya’ll be acting like I’m not there. How Un-State Farm of you. As long as you all are hoarding up all the tax money from property taxes and determining which communities get the best stuff, we are coming. So move over, smile, and wave or learn how to share resources so we all have the same things.
The list of White people things is much longer than this. I just have to stop because people have short-attention spans and a limited amount of time to spend reading. If you made it this far, I’m sure you’re pissed. If you are, that’s nice. Remember that feelings the next time you see one of us sharing spaces with you.
If you have things to add to this list, regardless of your race or role, please do. Let’s talk it out. Equality starts with the small things, like changing your mindset so that it’s easier to behave differently. Actions speak louder than words.
And for those of you who may read this and need to defend and/or dismiss these behaviors as rude White people just being rude White people, please kindly read my accompanying piece below “The Privilege of Being An Asshole Without Consequences.” Many people of color don’t get the privilege of being an asshole. Please understand your privileges, examine your behavior, and if necessary, act accordingly. It’s a matter of public health.