White Women and White Privilege: Telling Them NO
I wrote a post about White women and white privilege a few days ago—about how dealing with microaggressions and racism from them is often something I’m expected to ignore, and process racism as something that can only come from White men. From college days to corporate America to daily interactions in places of business to social media, I’m bombarded by experiences with White women that are shaped in everything from microaggressions to casual racism to institutionalized and overt racism. It is not comfortable. It hurts and angers. I find myself saying NO to them (sometimes outright, sometimes just in my mind) often…often like this…
No, I don’t work at this store that we’re both shopping at. You’ll notice that I’m not wearing a name tag and/or uniform for this store. No, I won’t be using my shopping time to help you find something that you are too lazy to find since you won’t ask a clerk that actually works at this store for help.
No, I don’t work at the library that you see me using my phone, iPod, computer or checking out books at, like the other patrons. The six to seven White librarians and clerks in the clerk area of the library do work here. While I’m the only Black face in the library at the moment, it doesn’t then place me in your servant status. No I can’t help you upload photos, make a Facebook page, check email or even figure out how to scan your library card.
No, I don’t think you’re exempt from possibly saying/doing racist things just because you have friends that are people of colour or think celebs who adopt Black children are cool.
No, I don’t know any single Black men as I am not a dating service or finder of Black penis for White women. Besides, if a Black man wants you, he’ll find you/you’ll find him and he’ll be certainly sure to inform me of how he thinks I’m inferior to you.
No, I don’t care or am angry if you “only” date Black men, but I will discuss how White supremacy, Eurocentric beauty myths, white privilege, and racism often impacts said relationships. I probably won’t want to be your friend though as I prefer to avoid headaches as these in my interpersonal relationships. Again, I don’t want to be used as a dating service. I’ve…already had this experience. Many times.
No, I don’t want the Black guy you are with. I’d bet money he doesn’t want me. Thus, there’s no reason to grab him and practically give him a lap dance when I walk by. I am no threat to you. I’m just trying to get to Starbucks, yo.
No, I am not interested in being your makeshift mammy therapist or sidekick. “You is not kind. You is not smart. You is not important.” Well…not any more than anyone else is.
No, I don’t have to talk to you (or anyone else, for that matter) in public spaces, and I am not rude just because I don’t laugh at your “jokes” in elevators, that are often in fact thinly veiled insults against me. No I don’t think the insults and monkey photo you used in a blog post about me are funny.
No, I don’t want to club or party with you. I don’t think being drunk is funny and I don’t want to go to happy hour after work to insult other White women who work at this job, and then have you all insult me when I leave, by asserting that I only got my job because of race.
No, I am not applying to a particular job just to secretly steal your job if I have more education. Either way, you will be paid more, even if we are both paid less than White men, overall. No, it wasn’t my attempt to trick you with my résumé. I can’t account for the fact that you screen for “Black names,” HBCUs, or Facebook photos, and I have none of that for you to have determined that I am Black before the interview.
No, I wasn’t hired as the new receptionist and I’m not from the corporate office cleaning company. I’m actually a project manager like…you know…the White men also hired for this job (who earn at least 10K more than me to double my salary for doing the same work).
No, I won’t pat you on the back when you blatantly appropriate Black culture, especially things specific to Black women and high five you as you use these things as “something cool” without regard to my feelings. I don’t think you appropriating our culture makes you a “fashionista” while it makes me “ghetto.” I don’t care if your particular appropriation makes Black men happy. Further, I won’t let you off the hook just because you cry hot white tears over your worry about being seen as a racist, (despite me not calling you one) instead of actually examining your White privilege.
No, I don’t want to discuss Occupy. I don’t view the 99% as a monolithic group and I know how unreasonable it is to substitute class for race, instead of viewing the multiple intersections of the 99%. I can’t pretend that a homeless person, one making 25K and one making 250K have the same experiences since they are all members of the 99%. I also can’t pretend that race doesn’t impact socioeconomics. While I too want the 1% and the corrosive false meritocracy held accountable and income inequality addressed, I can’t ignore the gaping holes and blind spots in Occupy.
No, I won’t join you on the SlutWalk. Plenty of Black women have written about why this is problematic for us. Further, if you can’t even slightly see how this would be problematic for us, I’m guessing your feminism isn’t one with intersectionality. While I too completely support stigma-free sexual freedom, I know that my perceived sexuality, experiences and rights are born out of a very different story from yours.
No, I don’t think every sociopolitical accomplishment for White women will "magically trickle down" to women of colour, especially poor ones. I don’t think placing White women in every sphere where White men are always means real change and success for women of colour.
No, I don’t think the experiences of all women are always the same and I can’t ignore race, class or sexuality just because we are all women. It all matters. It is not “oppression olympics” just because I speak of my experiences and they’re different from yours.
No, I don’t want to discuss feminism unless it is intersectional. Otherwise it is pointless.
Yes, I know that feminism is a continuum that many aren’t even on at all yet. Conversely, yes, I know that some White women actually are daily unpacking, deconstructing and challenging White supremacy and White privilege (while simultaneously benefiting from them…as privilege works this way) and these behaviors above probably don’t apply to them. (I should know. I talk to several like this on Twitter.) Yes, I know that class, sexuality, ability, and weight affects your experiences, despite White supremacy and having White privilege. I don’t minimize this.
Yes, I know the urge to say "well…all White women don’t do this" is at a virtual itch for you right now…on the tip of your tongue. However, not a single experience above is pulled from anywhere but my life in the last decade. Nothing I write is theory. This is my life.
Oh and finally, no, you can’t touch my hair.