(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 and please share!)
Dear “Scared White People”,
Hi. My name is Nyikia and I am a concerned black woman. And just so I’m clear here from the start: This is NOT CLICK-BAIT and I’m not talking to ALL WHITE PEOPLE. Nor, and I can’t even believe I have to say this, racist. I have the working knowledge to know that people of color have white allies out there. Thank you for that and this letter isn’t for you. I’m writing this letter to the “scared” or “concerned” white people out there because I’m growing quite worried (and pissed off) by your behavior toward black people. I have listed a few examples to clarify:
1.) Calling the police when black people are waiting for their friends in the local Starbucks. (Happened in Philadelphia.)
2.) Calling the police when black people gather peacefully in the park to have a BBQ with friends and family. (Google BBQ Becky.)
3.) Calling the police 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 police 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 because a black father was cheering his son on during his soccer game. (Google Golf cart Gail)
And most recently, a man named Christopher Cukor called the police on Wesley Michel (a black man) waiting outside of an apartment building for his friend. After asking Mr. Michel what was his friend’s name that he was waiting for (as if he’s someone’s authority figure), he proceeds to call the police to report a “trespasser.” In a video, you can see Mr. Cukor’s son say to him, “Daddy, please don’t I agree with him, daddy. Please don’t. I don’t like this. I don’t like this. Let’s go.” Mr. Cukor proceeds to tell the 911 dispatcher, “He appears to be African-American.”
(Side Note: Appears. Clearly, you can see since you’re standing less than ten feet away that this man is African-American.)
When Mr. Michel’s friend shows up, Mr. Cukor quickly changes his story to the dispatcher telling them that he was actually waiting for his friend. As he had already been told by Mr. Michel before wasting the 911 dispatcher’s time with a bogus call.
I’ll stop here because, with the list and story above, I could go on and on with examples of your less than stellar behavior. here is a consistent pattern of all the things that I wrote about. This pattern of calling the police on people who don’t look like you. Or who you feel are in the wrong place for their color. Why is that? I could understand if they were doing something that warrantied your suspicion. But clearly, in the instances listed above, they were not. The suspicion you had was based merely on the color of their skin. What you THINK you know of how African-Americans behave. And also, the prejudices you have acquired over the years due to what you THINK. 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 America’s current reality 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 ‘80s with McGruff the Crime Dog, so I learned all about stranger danger. Whose lessons on safety I still use today. But the one thing McGruff never taught 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 the child was taught that type of racial bias in the home by their family members. 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. The other day I was in a library waiting in line and this small Caucasian little boy kept looking at me. I smiled at him and he gave me a really big cute smile back and then hid his face. This went on and on for a few minutes until it was my time to go to the counter. Was he afraid of me because I looked different than him? No. Was he afraid of me because my skin is brown? No. He just saw a friendly person who smiled at him, so he smiled back. 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 supposed to be 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 by now: 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. Out to get me, want to see me dead and think I’m lower than the dirt on the bottom of their shoes. 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. Learn different things involving black culture and ask questions. Take a genuine interest in getting to know a person that just so happens to have pigment darker than yours. Those sounds like lofty goals, but it can be made easy. You can simply start by saying, “Hello.” Easy enough right? Have a friendly conversation with your black 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 ON BLACK PEOPLE FOR NO GOOD REASON.
With all love and sincerity,