Dear “Scared White People,”

(Disclaimer- I proofread this post a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human. And I am not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

Dear “Scared White People”,

Hi. My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman.  I’m writing this letter to you because I’m growing quite concerned (and getting pissed off) by your recent behavior toward black people.  I have listed a few examples:

1.) Calling the cops when black people are waiting for our friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)
2.) Calling the cops when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)
3.) Calling the cops when black people are going to view a house that is for sale. Even though the person is a real estate agent, and had been authorized to do so.
4.) Calling the cops when black people check out of an Airbnb (with their luggage in full view) because you thought they might be burglars.
5.) Calling the police on a 9-year old that was just buying something at the local corner store because you think they “grabbed your butt.” (Google Corner store Caroline)
6.) Calling the police because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)

I’ll stop here because the list goes on and on with your less than stellar behavior.  If you notice from the list, there is a consistent pattern.  That pattern is the calling of the police on people who don’t look like you.  Why is that?  I could understand if they were doing something that was suspicious.  But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not. The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin.  And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years.  Now I understand that your prejudices could stem from a learned behavior passed down from generation to generation.  And some have come from outside sources:  literature, television, hearsay and most notorious the media.  I’m really trying to work with you “scared white people,” I really am.  But at a certain point in life, you have to take inventory of yourself.  Not everything you see and hear about people is true.  Even the cheeto in chief (aka our current realty star president) knows this.  Hence the term his administration loves to overuse, “fake news.” Although in his case most of what we hear about him turns out to be absolutely true.  But that’s a post for another day.

Let’s get back to the task at hand.  I understand having a little concern for the unknown. Dark places, stray animals, emails from strange addresses and yes our fellow humans.  I grew up in the 80’s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. But the one thing McGruff never taught us was to be afraid of someone based solely on their skin color.  If you asked the average child today to describe someone that frightens them, I’m pretty sure a stranger’s skin color wouldn’t come up.  Unless of course, they were taught that type of racial bias in the home.  So why is it children are wiser in this regard than most adults?  I work with children for a living, and I notice that they have a tendency of seeing people for exactly who they are.  Race not included.  When they judge you, they judge you on your merits.  Race not included.  When they are leery of someone, it is because of the vibe they get from the person.  RACE NOT INCLUDED.  Children are usually both open and eager to get to know someone who is different than themselves. They ask questions without assuming they know the answer.  Children just see a person much like themselves with zero prejudgments.

So why haven’t adults learned to do this already?  For people who are older and intellectually smarter, we sure lack the intelligence of the average child.  I’m going to take this time to let you in on something you should have already figured out:  NOT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD PEOPLE.  That is shocking right?  I know the truth can be most times.  But I feel you really need to know and understand that fact.  Let me be clear here, there are bad people in every race, gender, and country.  Being a bad person is not relegated to a racial thing.  It’s a personality and behavioral thing.  If I went around thinking certain things about certain races, then my belief right now would be that all white people are racist.  And clearly, that is not the case.

I have a suggestion on how to help you “scared white people” in working through your prejudices.  Provided you actually want to get rid of your judgmental nature and possibly make a few new friends.  BE OPEN.  Get to know more about the black people that you encounter in your everyday life.  That sounds like a lofty task, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.”  Easy enough right?  Have a real genuine conversation with that co-worker that you see all the time.  Get to know them on a level that’s based on common ground, common interest and a humane level.  You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll have in common with the average black person.  Everyone has that one family member that they don’t like in their family.  You avoid them at all costs at family functions until another relative asked you if you said hi to them.  You can easily bond over that.  Or how you love your kids to death, but could sometimes punt them like a football when they get on your nerves.  You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  You have to pick it up, read the description on the back or inside cover in order to learn what it’s about.  And the same goes for people.  All I’m saying is get to know someone who’s different than you before you judge them.  And for the love of God:  STOP CALLING THE POLICE.

With all love and sincerity,

Nyikia

 

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15 thoughts on “Dear “Scared White People,”

  1. Lots of uncomfortable but necessary stuff here! There’s this persistent thinking that racism = yelling obscenities at someone in the street because of the colour of their skin, so too many people think ‘well I’M not racist’ and never address the ingrained racism they have in them.

    I think white people (myself included) need to get much better at realising that systemic racism is a thing, that we’re all part of the problem and that we need to do better.

    Thanks for addressing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First point–not that it’s the most important, but to get it out of the way–typo in “realty star president.” Should be reality.

    Second–hell yes. I grew up in the deep South, and white folks here are so defensive about racism. “I’m not racist, but they’re destroying our history by tearing down Confederate statues. I’m not racist but it’s black people you see being arrested on television. I’m not racist but why do black people make it all about race?”

    It goes on and on. All of these arguments are based on such a limited view of the world–that everyone’s experiences mirror the white American’s experience. That if it didn’t happen to them, someone else must be doing something wrong. That if they call the police on innocent behavior, it is very possible that they’re giving that black person a death sentence–especially if he’s a black male.

    We NEED these conversations so that we can find solutions. White people are so defensive when *I* point out flaws in their logic. I can’t imagine how defensive we are when black people do. Something I’ve heard more times than I can count is “I don’t have a problem with black people, but….” I would bet that every single person who called the cops in your example would have said the same thing.

    How do we as white people address this utter denial? I don’t think that *anything* will improve until that happens.

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    1. First, I didn’t realize I spelled the wrong reality wrong and the Microsoft word or Grammarly didn’t pick up on it either. 🤦🏾‍♀️
      So thanks! Lol.
      Second, I totally agree with everything that you’ve said. I’ve had three comments from three white people, two of which didn’t even read the post and the third one I don’t know if she did or not. But the first two said that they wouldn’t read it based on the title alone without knowing when exactly I’m talking about. The second person said that I was making assumptions on a certain type of person. And he said this without having read the post. And the third person just straight up called me a racist. So that’s how I know that this was an important topic to write about because those are the type of people that I’m talking about. They made assumptions based on a title just the way someone else would make an assumption based on someone’s skin color.
      Thank you for reading, your comment and pointing out the spelling error. Please feel free to share. I would like as many people as I can get to read this. 😊

      Like

      1. I read too fast the first time and thought you wanted spelling feedback. Really sorry for that.

        I think the title puts those who *really* need to read it on the defensive. Calling a black person racist shows an utter lack of understanding of systemic racism.

        There’s a difference between being prejudiced (not that I’m saying you are by any means) and being part of a system that denigrates others, not just through words, but through the criminal justice system, financial systems, etc.

        The only issue I see is that the target audience for this post, based on title and content, *already gets it*.

        A different approach might be more beneficial if you’re trying to convince those who don’t get it. Otherwise, they’re too defensive to even pay attention.

        My two cents, anyway. It’s worth what you pay for it. 😀

        Keep writing. Your voice is important.

        Like

  3. You’ve written about a very important topic, and make many good points. I find the current culture of fear and making assumptions about people based on race or religion or ethnicity to be so disturbing, and I certainly don’t have all the answers. You are so right that breaking down these stereotypes is going to require people to connect as individuals, have conversations, and recognize their commonalities. However, you suggest that the ‘scared white people’ initiate these conversations – while this would be wonderful, I think the people we’re talking about are very unlikely to recognize themselves, or to want to step outside their comfort zones if they do see it. The reality is, they are scared on some level. Maybe it would be more effective if the people on the receiving end of the discrimination (as unfair as this is) were to take the initiative?

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    1. I wasn’t necessarily saying that this scared white people should always initiate the conversation. I did say at one point they should be open. To be open I means that you are at least open to saying hello. A conversation can sometimes grow from there. Being an African-American woman, I have found myself in situations where I always have to compromise. At what point am I allowed to just be me and not have to compromise to make someone else comfortable? And you are totally right. It is completely unfair. And I think that people of color are really fed up with that situation. At some point it can’t always be us that has to bridge the gap.

      Like

  4. I think your points are valid, but from the title a lot of ppl may think this is going to be a humorous post or other races may think it’s adversarial & not read. I hope they do, maybe they will really start thinking how they stereotype people based on color.

    Like

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