Who’s Assuming Who?

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

Last week I posted a blog post called, “Dear Scared White People” that received mostly positive comments.  But three people took issue with the title… (Insert dramatic music here) without having read the post.  On the Facebook blog post, one woman said, “I am not a sensitive woman, but the title of your post turned me off.  I am just being honest. While I am sure it is all in good humor, I wouldn’t click it.”  Although she said that she wasn’t a “sensitive woman”, the fact that she felt a strong emotion to just the title tells me she is.  I promptly let her know that I wasn’t trying to be humorous.  I told her that the post wasn’t directed at ALL WHITE PEOPLE.  I have the where with all to know that not ALL WHITE PEOPLE behave in the manner in which I was speaking of in my post.  I go on to explain that the title is directed at the so-called “scared” ones.  The second person left a comment that said, “Wow racist to a T.”  (Insert the emoji with the person with their hand over their face.)  The sheer ignorance and cluelessness of that person didn’t surprise me one bit.  And the third person said it was, “terrible click bait” and “kind of offensive, too.”  He went on to say that it was a “terrible assumption to make with the title.”  He continued by saying, “The way you’re approaching, what I would assume is an important matter based on other comments here, is terrible.  You’re projecting an assumption of an entire racial class.”  To which I responded, “So from your statement, I can tell that not only didn’t you read the post to find out exactly what and whom I’m talking about.  You didn’t even read all the comments posted here by others.  You are ASSUMING you know what I’m talking about based solely on the title.  The exterior.  So don’t say I’m projecting an assumption when clearly you are doing the same.”  After addressing all three (politely I might add) what do you think happened?  Absolutely nothing.  Complete radio silence from all three, just as I expected.

By their comments, I feel, they clearly fit the narrative of people making assumptions about certain things without learning the truth.  It piggybacks a little off last week’s post about people calling the cops on people of color because they made assumptions about them.  The assumptions being who they think these people are or what they think they may do.  Let me be very clear here:  ALL HUMANS make assumptions about others at one time or another.  (Raises hand…..I’m guilty of this.)  I have a friend named Kevin that I have known for ten years now.  When I first met Kevin, I didn’t think we would have anything in common.  He listened to different music, he wore Insane Clown Posse tee shirts and he wasn’t the friendliest looking guy.  I made assumptions about him based on what I saw and nothing else.  Fast forward to now, and he’s one of my dearest friends.  I’ll be attending his wedding next summer.

I developed inaccurate and stupid opinions about people.  Most of which were truly unwarranted and unfair.  The one that I used to make was if a particular white person I encountered would be racist.  These thoughts stem from interactions I had while growing up black in America.  I’ve been followed around a store while shopping on a few occasions.  Sometimes I’m still nervous that someone thinks I may steal from a store just because I’m black.  I’ve heard things said like (insert their idea of a compliment here) for a black girl.  And the infamous, “You’re different than other black people.  You’re not like them.”  I’m still not sure how to process that last one.  The fact that I have encountered a few bad apples in the bunch is in no way an excuse for me to think all white people are racist.  But I wanted to give you some context as to where my thoughts came from.

As I stated above, we all make assumptions.  We assume that we will not like the taste of certain foods because of the way it looks or smells.  We assume that we won’t like a movie because of reviews it received from our family or friends.  We assume that the title of a post is “terrible click bait” without knowing that the person titled it that way to convey an important message.  And we assume that a whole race of people are bad because we have heard things or had an unpleasant experience with someone of that race.  Assumptions get people in a lot of unnecessary trouble.  So take the time to dig a little bit further beneath the surface before you project your own thoughts onto a situation.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll make a new friend you thought you wouldn’t have anything in common with.  Or maybe, just maybe, you learn something you didn’t know about yourself.

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8 thoughts on “Who’s Assuming Who?

  1. Very insightful post. Yes, as you stated, we all make assumptions. But the importance is learning to recognize when we are making these assumptions and take the time to allow a person or a situation to surprise us. Particularly on the Internet, people are so quick to jump into reaction mode without giving anything a chance. And yes, it seems like the people who were so “offended” by your article would have at least taken the time to read the article before they hit “send”!

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  2. Thank you for sharing this and going back to address those comments in a professional polite manner. I fully believe people who make an effort to educate and engage others on their personal experiences dealing with race, are the people who create a safe space for progress. I’m sorry that people judged your past blog merely on the title, but I appreciate how you used that as a platform to take the topic into deeper discussion!

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  3. I was following the drama on FB (not in a strange way, I hope!) and felt you handled it amazingly- polite but also firmly assertive- like, ‘I’m not going to take this shit, but am not rising to your bait’.

    I read an amazing book last week called Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge which has become a bestseller here in the UK. It was so helpful to read as a white person to try to understand a context that I can never experience. She describes at the end of the book how readers of it (and even shopkeepers) have had arguments started with them by angry white people yelling that it’s racist, all based on the title, none of whom had bothered to read the book…just like your post last week!

    Anyway all this rambling is meant to say, I am going to try to be the best ally I can and support people like yourself speaking the truth, and if people get defensive…well it really says more about them than it does about the points that you’re making!

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  4. Thank you for sharing this! I´m always amazed by how qickly people can jump to conlusions – and feel offended even though your post was clearly not personally directed against them. I would assume a lot of people might feel a little guilty and therefor wouldn´t want to click on the title. They are afraid they might read something they do not agree with, something that might upset them and – well, most of the times we don´t want to hear about that. Even though it´s these titles that make you curious that make you want to read more. I personally love the way you spread your message and am excited to read more!

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