Why do White People FEEL Uncomfortable Discussing Race?
Are you “sick and tired of being sick and tired”, as the saying goes? Well I am.
I’m sick and tired of being politically correct when silence only hurts me and those like me, yet the perpetrators and enablers of racial abuse get off scot free. Please don’t get me wrong this is NOT an “All White People Are Bad” kind of post neither is it about guilt-tripping folks. It’s about having necessary conversations that are long overdue.
For some people to claim that race has no meaning in today’s world! In a society whose very structure is predicated on race? Tell me something new.
Google describes the word discomfort as ‘a feeling of irritation, soreness, or pain that, though not severe, is annoying. The noun discomfort is good for describing situations when you aren’t quite in pain, but you don’t feel very good. Things that cause discomfort include a dull toothache, a blister on your foot and having to discuss racism or things to do with racial inequality (my own emphasis).’
Acknowledging that a problem exists is the first step in dealing with it. Then taking ACTION, no matter how uncomfortable that is, is an important next step.
Actions that are often uncomfortable are usually transformative and lead to sustainable change. Ask yourself, in wake of the 2020 protest following George Floyd’s murder, what meaningful change has taken place? I’m asking you to look beyond the verdict.
This is ample proof that the status quo cannot continue any longer just to protect White fragility.
If you are still uncomfortable then understand this, you’re either part of the problem or you’re part of the solution.
White people need to realize that deciding or rather choosing not to talk about racism is in fact another privilege they have that is not afforded to Black people.
It’s one thing to make a decision on whether to talk or not talk about it, but if it’s your lived experience and your daily reality, then HELLO! you have no choice BUT to be uncomfortable LIVING that reality everyday. That is what Black people have had to, and still continue to, live with without the option of opting out.
White privilege means you can choose to distance yourself and change the subject to a more comfortable discourse that doesn’t leave you with a negative experience . You can even pretend it doesn’t exist but Black people don’t have that luxury regardless of how much they don’t want it or how uncomfortable it makes them feel.
I totally understand that it is difficult to notice your privilege and inherent advantage if you’re part of the majority. But it’s better to admit that you do not know what it is like to walk in a black person’s shoes rather than deny their reality or completely ignore it. Realize the need to have the conversation and seek to understand rather than to be understood.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Why do Black people have to suffer the ignominy of such an injustice just so White people can feel comfortable? Is it any wonder why we have not effectively dealt with the terrible scourge of racism? When we raise these pertinent issues, we are continuously accused of pulling the race card but when white people feel discomfort then we must ‘get over it’ and continue in our discomfort for their precious comfort?
GIVE US A BREAK!
To those who retort with “All Lives Matter”, saying that is a misnomer when your fellow citizens are not treated in an equal and respectable manner. There are no human rights without racial justice!
When we say “Black Lives Matter” it is not an affront to other races and cultures or an assertion that Black lives matter more but rather an effort to shine a spotlight on the systemic bias inherent in our society.
Or is that the hypocrisy of American life?
Why should those who have been wronged for so long have to continue suffering discomfort? Would that be acceptable if the roles were reversed?
And to those who are quick to claim “but I’m not racist” please at least take the time to find out what racism is and how you could be aiding its continuation by your acts of commission or omission. By the way having a Black friend is not proof that you are not racist either. In the same way that having a mother, sister, wife or daughter that you love doesn’t mean you can’t be sexist at the same time. I am by no means using this as hyperbole or equating racial discrimination to gender based discrimination, but just highlighting the existence of such paradoxes.
Enough is enough, if you must suffer a little discomfort for the greater good of humanity then so be it. Black people have been doing it for far too long.
If You’re Not Willing To Get Uncomfortable, Forget About Change
Someone once said the only constant in life is change, and change is oftentimes difficult and uncomfortable, however the fruits of its labor are often immeasurable. Similarly caterpillars go through extreme change to become the butterflies we so admire and diamonds are formed under extreme pressure and heat to turn coal into the beautiful gems that they are.
We can and should have the conversations that will help us build a better society for ALL!
There are clearly some serious issues that need a lot of discomfort to be dealt with successfully! Racism in America is one of those. We cannot continue to protect those who want to avoid a little discomfort to the detriment of society and at the same time willingly deny change to those who would love to see progress.
What needs to be done instead is for us to keep educating and informing one another through open and honest dialogue. This way we will avoid the untold suffering and irreparable damage at a deep psychological level that is caused by the choice to remain silent in the face of adversity.
Please remember that just because you don’t see it or experience it yourself does not mean it is non-existent or not a problem.
While it is possible that White people can be anxious and hesitant to address racism because they do not know what to say, withdrawing from the conversation altogether is not the answer either. It impedes necessary progress, and allows history to keep repeating itself with unabated vigor.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s words ring so true at this moment in time. He said, “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.
So here’s the thing, you’re probably not going to change if you’re not uncomfortable in some way or the other. So if you’re really serious about being part of the solution then GET READY TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE!!!