9 Tips to Help You (White Folk) Navigate Your Next Conversation About Race

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I get it; talking about the consistent assassination of the black population in this country or the fact that Bonquisha and Becky don’t have the same opportunities in 2015 based off of their presumed identity because of their names or the fact that I am terrified every single day to raise a black son in this horribly racist world can be hard topics to discuss as a white person because you may feel like you are being attacked or blamed when all you’re doing is drinking a Pepsi and living life. Got it. Now, get over it. If you have friends of color and choose to ignore these topics when they come up because you are afraid that you may come off as insensitive to the struggle or ignorant, don’t worry. I got you. Here are some tips for you white folk out there to navigate conversations about why race relations are the way they are.

  1. Never choose to say nothing at all– I would rather you sound like a dumb ass so that I can help educate you than you say nothing at all. If I bring up Trayvon Martin and you look at me and mumble something about how the news is always so negative, I will never talk to you about anything with substance again. You’re a coward. Yes, you are because you don’t know how to speak up and I hate that sh*t! I once read this sign that said White silence = White consent. Think on that for a moment.
  2. Refrain from making real life comparisons– No, racial profiling is not the same as that one time the old senile security guard at Walmart thought you were shoplifting. That probably happens to everyone. So your comparisons make you come off as insensitive and as if you are attempting to down play the seriousness of the issues.
  3. Ask questions when you don’t understand– I would rather you ask questions about what happened or what has been happening to further your understanding so that you can have more intelligent conversations in the future.
  4. Do a little research– Listen, I know you aren’t black or a minority so these issues may not directly effect you. But I would hope that you would want to know what the hell is going on around you and how it effects the people you call friends, coworkers, boss, or even family. You shouldn’t be OK with the fact that Black Americans make up 60 percent of the prison system and that class, status, and financial standing is not accounted for when starting these usually young men and women of color on a path of poverty, imprisonment, and destitution. That should make you want to at least Google.
  5. Save your fake outrage; please– Please do not enter a conversation with “I just don’t understand. I just don’t get why we can’t just all get along”. If you don’t go on ahead with that.
  6. Do not, under any circumstances, play the victim– I know, I know. You think that any time someone starts to talk about the racial divide in this country caused by the centuries of enslavement, dismantlement, and the outright genocide of black people in this country, that the conversation is really just a personal attack masked as people engaging in a much more important dialogue than one simply about you. I know.
  7. Don’t change the topic– Just leave. Bye.
  8. If you are a parent, and diversity doesn’t matter to you, exit conversation left– If you are not actively making sure your children are understanding and participating in diversity, you are a disgrace and shouldn’t even waste your time with these sorts of conversations because let’s be real, you honestly don’t care enough to teach your own damn kids how to do better and be better so why pretend.
  9. Never say that you are color blind– This is what you are really saying when you say you are color blind when it comes to race: “I am so uncomfortable with our differences as people from various cultures, religions, and backgrounds that I choose to just ignore them and pretend that they do not exist”. I’m not color blind, my child isn’t color blind and that is your white privilege that allows you to be so. I am color conscious.

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