I usually don’t do things like this, but I had bacon this morning and thus am in a giving mood, so. Here you go: Alex’s Guide to Being a Somewhat Decent White Person, in 30 Quick, Easy Steps! (If you can’t handle sarcasm, turn away now)
Note before we begin: This guide is nowhere near all inclusive, and my PoC followers, please feel free to add more, if you’re feeling inclined to do so.
Also note that I do not speak for all PoC.
1. First things first: Recognize that if you’re white, you’re going to fuck up. 100% money back guarantee. Even if you don’t want to, you will. There’s nothing you can do about that. You could be the most anti-racist white person ever. Great. You’re still going to fuck up. Don’t let this discourage you, though! The good news is this: Nobody expects you to be perfect and nobody expects you to not fuck up. We just expect that when you DO fuck up, you take your call-out like a fucking adult, recognize your mistake, apologize, and then move the fuck on, and try your hardest to not make that mistake again. Maybe learn something in the process. That’s it. No, really. That’s it.
2. Recognize that as a white person, you have white privilege whether you want it or not. You have it. Recognize that you benefit from your white privilege, whether you want to benefit from it or not. It’s not a choice. Recognize that because of your white privilege, you benefit from the oppression of PoC, regardless of whether you think that’s fair or not, regardless of whether you want to or not. You don’t get a choice in it any more than we get a choice in not having those same privileges. That’s not something to feel guilty over, it’s something to be conscious of.
3. People of Color are human beings. With actual feelings! And actual lives, and concerns! We feel physical pain! We feel joy! We break our arms, and do silly things, and do serious things, and like leisurely activities! W O W Z E R S
4. Racism is privilege plus power. White people can’t be victims of racism. You have the most power. PoC have no power over you whatsoever. We can discriminate against you. We can be prejudiced against you. We can’t be racist against you. We don’t have the power to oppress you. The end.
5. Approach everything critically. Nearly everything is built upon white supremacist ideals.
6. If you find yourself calling out PoC for how they handle racism, yet have nothing to say to the actual racist, it’s time for you to go the fuck away.One thing I’ve noticed both on Tumblr, and in real life, is that when a white person starts acting racist, other white people will remain silent, but the second a PoC says something against that white person, other white people will come out in defense of that white person’s racist behavior (“You’re being so harsh!” “Strong language like that will get you nowhere!” “How are they supposed to learn if you won’t educate them?” etc etc etc) . That’s unacceptable in ways that even Lemongrab can’t articulate.
7. When your skinfolk are acting out, it’s on YOU to call them out, especially when you see them harassing PoC. If a PoC wants to speak up, let them. But there’s a difference between collecting your folk (always welcome) and flat out talking over us/speaking FOR us (big no-no). Learn the difference.
8. It’s not our jobs to educate white people on their racism, so don’t expect us to. There are PoC who do like to educate, paid or unpaid. Go see them. For an alternate option, open Google and you’ll have all that shit at your fingertips within seconds. But when a PoC is calling you out, they might not feel like giving you an in depth history lesson on the background of that particular act of racism, and to act like they owe it to you is entitlement. If we feel like educating, we will. In fact, there are plenty of Tumblr blogs created with the sole purpose of educating you on racism. Racismschool is a perfect example.
9. That being said, listen to PoC when they talk about racism. If you prefer listening to white people talk about the racism PoC face, rather than listening to PoC, there’s a problem. Tim Wise and other white people say something about racism, and y’all act like this is brand new information and omg he’s BRILLIANT wow so insightful. No, bitch, we’ve been saying this shit for CENTURIES, and white people are just regurgitating what WE said. It’s just that when PoC talk about our experiences, we’re seen as ~reverse racist~ and emotionally biased, and somehow, white people are able to talk about racism objectively even though they have no experience with racism aside from fucking people over with it.
10. If it seems to you that “no matter what white people do, there’s no way they can interact with a PoC without offending them,” then that says a lot about how you view anti-racist discourse, and it’s time for you to take a step back and try again. Instead of reading it as, “white people fuck up everything” try reading it as “I’m frustrated with white people/white supremacy, and here is why…” Most of the shit you read from us flat out GIVES you the answers you’re looking for in one way or another. It’s really not that hard. Stop looking too far into shit.
11. Instead of getting defensive and trivializing issues because you don’t think it’s a big deal why are you so offended by this you’re being over sensitive the world is so PC omg bawwwwwwwww …… LISTEN. And even if you don’t get why what you did/said was offensive, understand that it WAS offensive, period, and just don’t do it again. Sometimes, understanding isn’t necessary, and sometimes you won’t be able to understand, no matter how hard you try. You don’t have to; just stop.
12. Stop saying “nigga.” This goes for white people AND non-Black PoC alike. It’s not cool for you to do it. Black people say it to reclaim it. White people say it, why? Y’all have nothing to reclaim with that word. Non-Black PoC have no business using it either.
13. Yes, that means in songs, too. Y’all can’t sing it just because it’s part of the lyrics. Either mute yourself for half a second, or stop listening to the song until you can gain enough self control to shut the hell up for one word.
14. Seriously, if you aren’t Black, you can’t say it. Ever. EVER. EVER.
15. While we’re at it, when you use a racial slur and PoC who fall victim to that slur call you out on it, for god’s sake, stop saying it.
16. Recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around white people, despite the ways in which the world will try to tell you it does. (For instance, don’t call us non-white, because that makes, once again, white people the default human and everyone who isn’t white becomes a niche or subtype. You probably didn’t even realize that’s what you were doing, did you? Which is what I mean when I say that this shit is subtle, and engrained in us to the point where it’s hard to detect. Which is fine; sometimes, you just don’t know. It happens. Just be aware that you can only use “I didn’t know” as an excuse once. After you’re informed, you have no excuse. By the way, for future reference, “PoC” will work just fine.)
17. PoC don’t owe you shit and it would behoove you to not act like we do; when you’re ignorant, we don’t owe you niceness. If you did something that dehumanized us, why would you expect us to be nice to you anyway? That’s abuser logic, racism, and fucked uppedness all rolled into one disgusting package, and if you expect us to swallow it either whole or in pieces, you need to get slapped with a cactus, to be frank.
18. Don’t appropriate. If PoC walk around in our own things, we get harassed, assaulted, told to go back to our countries, viewed as suspicious, and at worst, killed. But when white people wear them, it’s cute, trendy, and omg, you’re so worldly. Our cultures are not costumes, fashion trends, or objects to be picked over, the pretty parts taken and the rest discarded. Even if you’re wearing it to appreciate our culture? Don’t. Appropriation isn’t appreciation, it’s disrespect. Period. (And if you think that “Well then maybe you should take off your jeans since those are from white culture and you’re appropriating har har” is an intelligent response then please dip your lips in hot wax, because no no NO.)
19. “NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE—” Shut the fuck up.
20. Just because one PoC doesn’t find something racist to be offensive, doesn’t mean that it suddenly isn’t offensive, and that it’s okay for you to continue on with whatever you’re doing. For examples, see 15.
21. If you’re being called out for something, recognize how much energy this person is out right now. Seriously, calling people out isn’t fun, because we KNOW how it’s likely to be received. We KNOW what people are likely to think about us. We KNOW how people are likely to take a call out.We KNOW that nine times out of ten, we’re just going to be shut down. We have to pick our battles; if we called out everything, we’d be calling shit out every second of our lives. (And it’s not fair that we have to let some things pass silently, because that gives the impression that what was said/done is okay and not problematic, which isn’t true) It’s not fun. It’s not something we look forward to doing. So when we DO do it, please just listen. Please recognize that it’s not us trying to kill your fun or ruin your day, or us hating you or thinking you’re a terrible person. We’re just trying to gain back the piece of our humanity that you put your foot all over.
22. Being called a racist isn’t worse than whatever racist act you just committed/racist thing you said. So save your boo hoo hurt fee-fee tears for somebody who gives a fuck because I guarantee it won’t be us. Also, being called out for doing something offensive doesn’t mean we called you racist. It doesn’t even mean we think you’re racist. It means you did something problematic and we’re trying to correct you on it so that you won’t do it again.
23. So you got called out and it upset you. Go cry me a god damn river. Guess what? Being called out isn’t SUPPOSED to feel good. It’s not supposed to feel like a pat on the back. Expecting a call out to feel good is like denying somebodies humanity and then expecting them to give you hugs and cookies in return. No, it’s not LIKE that, it IS that. In the same vein, if you get called out by more than one person, and choose to listen to the one who you think was nicer about it? Then fuck you. Both are people expressing their hurt and both are valid, and for you to ignore one in favor of the other—and especially to praise them via “Thank you for being polite/carrying on an intelligent discourse rather than screaming incoherently/etc etc etc” is tone policing as well as trying to set up a Good PoC, Bad PoC dichotomy, and fuck you very much if you engage in that.
24. Whatever racist thing you did or said, you’re not the first white person we’ve dealt with who has done/said it. You’re probably somewhere in the thousands. Know what that means? We’ve dealt with others exactly like you, several times over. That gets annoying the second time around. By the time you strike, we’re fed up with it. So if we just tell you to fuck off, please respect our wishes and do so. We deal with micro-aggressions and blatant and subtle racism day in and day out, every single day, from the day we are born until the day that we die. So if we aren’t the nicest to you, don’t get mad at us for not being polite enough. Be mad at yourself for having done/said something racist and making our day just a little bit shittier with your ignorance. Your racist acts are your fault. You did em. Don’t get mad when you have to deal with consequences for them. If we’re old enough to deal with racism at fucking two years old, then you’re old enough to deal with the consequences at 15, 16, 20, 30,56, 89, 314.
25. Keeping all of the above in mind, remember that we’re all individuals. The best way to deal with PoC is by treating us like the human beings we are, and being constantly aware of your privilege. When you fuck up, apologize, try not to do it again, and move on. It’s not that hard.
26. Cracker isn’t a racial slur. Neither is honky. Neither is curdled milk, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, or white bread. Let it drop. Sorry you aren’t oppressed for your skin color, white people. It must suck not having to deal with racial oppression. Truly. I’m sorry for your misfortune.
27. Intersectionality or shut the fuck up. PoC come in all flavors. We’re queer. We have mental health issues. We have disabilities. We deal with sizeism, misogyny, ableism, and so on. If you think bringing up race in conversations about other oppressions is inappropriate, then take a long hard seat and stay down until summoned.
28. “It’s just a word, it only has as much power as you give it.” NO.
29. Having a PoC spouse, S.O., family member, acquaintance, co-worker, doesn’t mean you can’t be racist or do racist shit. You can, you have, and you will again. And if you make that argument and use them as your get out of jail free card, you’re being racist in that moment because you’re turning them into an excuse to combat being called out for acting like a fucking fool.
If the above is too difficult or too much for you, then there is an alternate solution:
1. Stay away from all PoC, and don’t engage with a single one until you’ve changed your attitude because the last thing PoC need is to be exposed to your ignorance and lack of consideration for their humanity.
Remember that there’s way more than what I’ve listed. Anything here that upset you or made you feel uncomfortable, you should go back and read again, and question very carefully why it made you upset, and then confront your issues. And if I somehow pissed you off, just remember… you asked.