Why Do Some White People Give Up So Easily?
(*Disclaimer: This essay is not representative of all White people, just those White people who fall into the category. This essay is for fragile White folks and the White folks who feel the need to defend the indefensible… not all White people.)
First Things First
I want to thank all the White foot soldiers and allies who work tirelessly alongside us marching, protesting, writing, snatching ignorant-asses up on social media, voting, attending social justice and equality meetings, developing plans, and maybe even going against your own personal/household interests to support the greater good. I appreciate you. This essay isn’t for you, but if you are a worker bee for equality, equity, fairness, and all things that come together for the good of mankind… you know exactly what kind of White person I’m describing. Gird ya loins.
Without good White people, there would be no freedom for Black people. White people helped us escape slavery. White people helped us during the bus boycotts. White people marched (and died) fighting for the civil rights of Blacks and Jews. The Klan killed white people transporting Blacks to and from marches.
Fighting With Words Is Not Enough
I recently had a brief dialogue with a White reader about fighting in this inexcusable era of Trump, and what’s people or things are worth fighting for. After his second response it tempted me to disengage because as usual, we didn’t see eye to eye on the value of fighting. I was deeply disappointed in most of the commenters rationales for not wanting to fight.
I was frustrated because for too many White people, fighting for equality or anything for non-White people in America is a choice. It’s a choice for these folks because they are the majority, and they don’t feel the discomfort of inequality. The scales have always been tipped in their favor. It’s a choice for them because they possess White privilege that makes their travels easy, and the burdens lighter. Because they have this privilege, their lives are easier.
Won’t Listen and Can’t Hear
Too many White people are so stuck in their ways, it’s very difficult to help them understand any other perspective except their own. These people want you to come over to their side, believe what they are saying, understand their issues, and hear what they have to say. They talk to us and at us Blacks and Browns, but rarely do they listen to us. They don’t hear us. These folks have one-track one-track minds, and their minds are already made up before they speak the first word to those of us with opposing views. They aren’t interested in learning about what impedes Black folks’ ability to live and thrive. Their words are nothing more than neoliberal distractions. Liberal and Dem voters do the same thing. Vote this way or else, as if we haven’t endured bad things. They forget we’ve lived through Jim Crow, Reconstruction, the Civil War, slavery, etc. No threats about how terrible things will be for us if we don’t vote in strategic ways beneficial to White-centered White people matter to me, at all.
These folks won’t listen to us, and they can’t hear us… even when reading our words or talking to us face to face. The dialogue I was having with the self-admitted privileged man (see the link above) was hopeless, and a perfect example of White people not listening to people of color.
White people with privilege can’t fight if they come to the discussions late, come with bullshit data and skewed facts that don’t reflect the real world, our realities. Just a few days ago, I asked a White guy arguing with me on Twitter what were Black concerns and issues, and he regurgitated the same old political talking points from the White mainstream media about “kitchen table” issues. Those issues aren’t our issues, they aren’t framed in a way we Black voters talk/reference, but as usual none of those things matter. In all things, we must assimilate into what matters to Whiteness.
When I called the guy on it and called him out on the fact he didn’t address “my” particular question, he deflected, projected, and eventually did the I have Black friends spill in a series of tweet interactions. Some African America men came along to add their two cents and he really became offensive, at some point calling us all angry. Black folks get called angry and called divisive for doing what other people do to us. We aren’t supposed to be self-interested.
White folks like the guy in this Tweet refuse to understand points of view that differ from theirs. They never come to fight for us. They come to a discussion ready to convince us not to fight for our own needs and desires, all while arguing their needs and desires. It’s nothing more than gaslighting. You may as well disengage.
The most polite thing you can do when you’re insulted by these types of people is to say you can agree to disagree and move on. You will not convince them to change. White people confirm their train of thought with such engagements, reinforcing they aren’t going to fight for us.
If You’re Not Going To Fight, You Don’t Get To Advise Us
Fighting just isn’t in some folks’ DNA. Sometimes I feel like my White friends give up too easily. A lot of White people give up so easily because they don’t have a dog in the fight, especially Southern Whites. During the Civil Rights Era, Whites weren’t actively protesting for equality for Black Americans, nor were they supportive of the equal rights because of their zero-sum mindsets. Little has changed in the past fifty years.
Some White people don’t see the value or need for fighting for others. Others don’t see the need to fight hard for others. As soon as the going gets tough, the fake tough go to their safe, comfortable, sanitized homes. These types of quitters don’t see the value in fighting for something tangible that won’t benefit them directly.
They won’t go to the police stations to call out tainted police departments. They won’t call out workplace discrimination and the annual worthless diversity training that doesn’t change White people. Even if they see the value in workplace diversity, they will not speak out on their employer not keeping their pledge to be an equal opportunity workplace.
Their fear is greater than their fight.
I often wonder why White folks quit or refuse to fight for causes and groups they know could benefit from their voices? There is no condemnation here. I just want White people falling into this category to explain why White people are so flaky sometimes, so blind other times, and sometimes they don’t show up at all.
I realize when life has been so cushiony and the grass has always green on your side, it’s hard to deal when life gets rough. Some people forget where they came from. Just because fighting is unknown, uncomfortable, or seems hard doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it. Some White folks like to “weigh” options when the battle doesn’t concern them directly, especially battles pertaining to wealth, health, education, freedom, enslavement, religion, neoliberalism, conservatism, etc. without thinking about how their concerns negatively impacts others.
Here is a classic example. Jane Fonda has been getting arrested every Friday protesting climate change. I’m sure she’s gotten a misdemeanor charge and a small fine, nothing requiring her to do real time or sacrifice real money for. But why won’t Fonda or righteous women and men like her ride or die in Ferguson to protest police brutality? Why aren’t they showing up in courtrooms where judges and juries issue unfair sentences for high profile cases where Whites get off scot-free? Where are these warriors when issues of equality are the topic, the stakes are high, and the possibility of jail or prison are in their futures?
They are no where to be found. Whiteness will always assess the fight and the risk before engaging. I’m not saying you should kill yourselves or do 25-years to life, but where are the fearless White warriors?
I fight for people. The underprivileged. The unseen. The poor. The elderly. I fight because someone fought for me. I fight because I know the power of using my voice, my mind, and my knowledge. I fight with those with few resources, because I understand it takes money to do any and everything in this world. I don’t think about it. It’s natural. It’s natural to most people of color to fight. It’s how we’ve survived 400 years and counting.
What White people don’t realize is that we share this world and if I fail, they failed too. If I can’t take care of myself because they horde all the opportunities, rig systems to fail for minority groups, encourage racism, classism, capitalism, and neo-liberalism, eventually you’ll be taking care of me and my families in other ways. You all don’t really want that.
If White politicians create laws and policies that prevent us from working, from living, from breathing, from fishing, from having clean water and air, from having affordable rents and mortgages, from having safe schools, from starting and maintaining businesses, from being brutalized and over policed by the law enforcement community, from having safe food, or from driving and flying safely, I will fight them. And when you get in the way, I’m looking for a way around you.
You can give up on people and throw them away all you like, but I never will. If you won’t fight for others, other won’t fight for you. Stop giving up. Stop being afraid. Stop overlooking. Start listening. Start caring for others. Throw caution and fear to the wind. Start seeing the big picture, and for goodness sake, make fighting a lifestyle.
When we all fight together, we can change things.
©2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.