One by one the riots, protests, and outcry for justice for the death of George Floyd and all other Black people who have been wrongfully killed came pouring out of each city across the nation. Brands have been speaking out about where they stand in regards to racism and the Black Lives Matter movement and social media has, for the lack of better words, blown up with the number of shared resources available to help fight racism. The New York Times said, “This is the biggest collective demonstration of civil unrest around state violence in our generation’s memory. The unifying theme, for the first time in America’s history, is at last: Black Lives Matter.”
Sure, this may be the unifying theme for the first time in America’s history, but as Black people, this has been our life since birth. At any moment in time, I could call up any friend or family member on my phone and they could instantly rattle off a few moments that stand out to them around their first experiences with racism. These are moments we won’t forget. These experiences have shaped the way we speak, act, and move throughout our existence. Sorry America, but this isn’t new for us Black people.
Sure, this may be the unifying theme for the first time in America’s history, but as Black people, this has been our life since birth.
On June 1, my article, Dear White Parents, My Black Son and Husband Need You Right Now, launched right here on The Everymom. The night before it went live, I had exchanged texts with my editor around my fear of sharing such a personal piece. I wrote it because stories like those aren’t often told, accepted, or featured. They’re usually the ones you say quietly or behind closed doors with a trusted friend, parent, or sibling. Not this one.
Despite my initial fear, I know I couldn’t keep quiet any longer.
Moments after my piece launched, I shared it with my family, a few friends, and a large group Slack channel at my corporate job. Things after that started to move quite fast in terms of positive, encouraging, and uplifting feedback. I received a lot of appreciation and gratitude for writing the piece. I thanked everyone who read and kept going about my day. Then, on social media, I logged in and had a huge influx of white female followers. Many of them reached out through private DMs to say how much they enjoyed my article, but then, the questions started to come in about how they can improve their views on racism, what resources do I suggest to learn more, who do I recommend they follow to help diversify their feed.
While not completely surprising, it felt completely out of place and frankly, inappropriate.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, would you ask someone who is currently in the hospital healing from the coronavirus what you can do to avoid getting the virus?
On a lesser life-threatening note, if you wanted to learn how to cook a meal would you message multiple chefs asking them how to make it? Or would you look up a few recipes, read the reviews, and give it a try yourself?
Moms, when you were first pregnant and wondered what life with a baby was like, would you ask your sister currently in labor how she got through it with her first? Or might you grab a few books and reserve a spot in your local Baby & Me class?
My point with these examples is that, as Black people, it is not our responsibility to educate and teach you how to erase your racist views, especially not when we’re currently working on our healing through these moments ourselves. Right now, Black people all over the world are in physical, mental, and emotional pain. We hurt for George Floyd and all of those who died before him unnecessarily. We’re exhausted by often being the only Black person in many of the rooms we walk into and having to speak for all Black people.
As Black people, it is not our responsibility to educate and teach you how to erase your racist views, especially not when we’re currently working on our healing through these moments ourselves.
To even say, “This is not my life, so I’m unfamiliar with it, can you teach me, please?” comes with so much privilege that the question, at times, can add to our hurt because we are yet again faced with how different our lives truly are.
White friends, coworkers, family members, neighbors, social media followers —please stop asking your black friends to teach you about racism.
We are asking you to put in a little bit of effort to learn everything we’ve been learning through life experiences. This isn’t to say there aren’t teachers, leaders, educators, and speakers out there willing to teach, but do some research, explore hashtags, or google “Anti-Racism Books.”
To even say, ‘This is not my life, so I’m unfamiliar with it, can you teach me, please?’ comes with so much privilege that the question, at times, can add to our hurt because we are yet again faced with how different our lives truly are.
Right now, while we are in the middle of fighting for our lives to matter equally to those of white people, it is not the time to ask the Black community to help you learn how to not be racist against us. We are at protests, we are showing up for others in our own community, we are writing stories just like these to help in ways that we can, we are taking care of our mental health, we are calling up our politicians and demanding justice, we are crying so many tears, we are working at jobs that have yet to mention anything about Black Lives Matter … or worse, are still thinking that All Lives Matter is the appropriate message right now. Or we are working at jobs that are only now calling on us because they are wanting to protect their brand and name to the public.
The racist white community continues to try to beat us down, literally and figuratively. But our community’s bond is airtight and strong, and we continue to stand up together, stronger than ever after each time. Please recognize the privilege you currently have if this has not been your reality and take some time to put in the effort to unlearn everything you’ve been taught about race and equality.
We’re outraged, and we’ve had enough, yet we’re also sad, heartbroken, and tired. So as you begin your journey to learn more about anti-racism, please don’t ask us, the Black community, to teach you how. We have more peaceful protesting and internal healing to do right now.
Read More: If You’re a White Woman Looking to Help, Ivirlei Brookes’s Viral Video Is the Resource You Need