August 16, 2017


The Oblivious 
White Person

Her name is Kathy. She has six cats and two dogs and she doesn’t watch the news very often. His name is Chad and he mostly hikes and surfs on the weekend. Neither of them likes to talk about politics, but they seem cool. Kathy often brings you a Tupperware container of casserole she made (she guards that Tupperware like a family heirloom, too), and you went out drinking with Chad once. They seem cool.


You are going to be mad at Chad and Kathy, even though they haven’t done anything to you and have never shown any outward signs of racism. Don’t take it out on them. Be nice to them. Be honest. Just say, “Chad, I’m really not in the mood for a conversation,” or “Kathy, can we discuss the TPS reports another time?”


But whether it is the poltergeist in the attic of the haunted house or your gas face, white people can’t stand not knowing, so if they keep probing, tell them:


OK, Chad, you want to know what’s wrong? I’m jealous of you. You get to live in a world where your family, your neighborhood, your children, your people get to waltz blithely by hate and prejudice without getting any on the bottom of their shoes.


I’m not angry at you; I’m envious of your privilege. I want to live in a world where I don’t have to watch the news to see if I can travel abroad, or if my cousins from overseas are allowed to come see me. I want to exist without having to worry that my children will have to go to underfunded schools because of historical redlining. I want to let my son hang out without giving him instructions on how to reach for his wallet and how to show all of his teeth when he smiles at a police officer.


I don’t want to be white. I don’t even want to be oblivious. I just want to be free, Kathy. Free from all this bullshit that I had no part in bringing on myself. Free from this hate and the weird looks. Free from the Trump slogans and alt-right side eyes. Free from having to defend my existence. Free from having to throw elbows and swallow punches just to find a space in which my blackness fits. Can’t you understand, Chad and Kathy? I want to be free!


Kathy and Chad will stare at you and might be reluctant to ask you any question again, ever. But you will feel better once you have gotten it off your chest. You won’t be free, but you will feel liberated. There’s no need to feel discouraged. That’s how evil wins, fam.


That’s my word, B.




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