VVhite Progressives be Like…

photo: the poetic arsenal

It’s no longer shocking to come across a vvhite-dominated organization with an all-vvhite diversity committee or vvhite women who refer to themselves as intersectional feminists. Regardless of how noble they believe their efforts are, no progress can be made in the absence of Black women and people of color. Worse, white progressives make themselves feel good by supporting Black women selectively, yet, continue to use their bias to marginalize us in the spaces they dominate.

Whether you’re warming yourself up for the 2020 elections, or, despite the odds, you want to pursue your interest in politics, you’re going to have to brace yourself for the white progressives. Here are a list of typical behaviors and ideologies to expect…

#7. Tone Policing Black Women Out the Room

Speaking up in any white-centered space is a form of pageantry for Black women. Whether we’re trying to bring attention to the maternal mortality crisis or simply weighing in on a discussion, the perception of our tone and delivery will always outweigh our message. Black women only attend a few progressive events before realizing that, while we have the stamina to pull off the intellectual gymnastics required to be heard and respected at the same time, it isn’t worth the hassle. Tone policing is nothing more than a way of publicly oppressing Black women and preventing us from being heard. When white progressives fuel old tropes that paint Black women as argumentative, angry, and uneducated, their whiteness becomes as weaponized as a bible-belt republican. So, beware when you’re called out for your ‘tone’ or your ‘delivery’. Not only are they scoring your pageantry, they’re also negotiating the terms in which you’ll be heard and taken seriously.

#6. “Let’s focus on what we have in common.”

Also known as the colored blind folks. The love and peace folks. The ones who want to fast forward through all the oppression and solely focus on what they can relate to. Ugh.

Essentially, they’re telling us to abandon all of the obstacles, crises, and dangers we face so we can focus on the bigger picture. These progressives have compartmentalized every issue that affects Americans with Black skin and expect us to do the same. That’s some bullshit. Fighting for justice and equality for Black women and people of color is something we should all have in common. If there’s a problem with Americans on American soil, it’s an American problem, not a Black one.

#5. “We’re all in this together!”

How, Sway?

White people rarely flinch or hesitate to make these bold, untrue statements. They may be hashtaging our names, but we’re the only ones in mourning, taking on police departments and making sure the most marginalized are fed, clothed, and safe.

Where there are Black and Brown problems, there is white absence and apathy. All of the Audre Lorde and MLK quotes in the world can’t trick Black Americans into believing that good-hearted progressives have been with us all this time while we’ve been scratching and surviving. Any time a white progressive wants to convince you that we’re all in this together, ask them what ‘we’ should do to combat the weathering hypothesis, or, what’s the best solution to combating the maternal mortality crisis, or what they’ve been doing to dismantle white supremacy. No doubt, white America bleeds for the red, white, and blue. But, they’re damn sure not checking for the Black and the Brown.

#4. Shear Ignorance Towards the Intersection of Race and Gender

Because our stereotypes proceed us, and because much of the bias that white people have towards Black women is unknown even to them, their ignorance becomes not only counter-productive, but incredibly damaging to both the progressive space, and especially, Black women who show up.

Our gender and our race are a package deal. Failure of white people to understand this often leaves them disappointed and frustrated when our ideology and perspectives do not align with theirs. The ignorance towards our increasingly dangerous intersection is a major reason why there’s so much friction between Black women and white people.

Despite what’s misunderstood about Black women, what’s known to the world is that we do stand united. Not just in an emotional sense, but a political one as well. Even many Sisters who voted for Clinton in the 2016 election didn’t personally like her, they still voted in the best interest of the country. During the Jones/Moore election in Alabama, Black American women pulled the kind of stunt that white people can only dream of: we manifested our unity into tangible change. Not the kind of change that comes when a bunch of women decide to wear the same color hat on the same day, either. The kind of changes that brings hope for the future.

#3. “Don’t be divisive, be a better activist!”

If you’re a Black woman and a white progressive has the caucasity to say this to you, check them for every chin they ever had. You let them know that the way your intersection of gender and race is set up, the act of maintaining employment, contributing to your community, code shifting for survival, and keeping your edges intact is not only an act of activism, it’s an act of magic. The bold-faced decision to ostracize Black women in every space and environment we enter is only a fragment of division caused by white progressives. It’s not our fault that they’ve alienated themselves from Black people to the point that they find our lived experiences to be divisive. It’s their fault for misinterpreting our truth as a personal attack.

#2. “Vote Blue!”

Say what now?

Black Americans have been loyal as fcuk to the democratic party, and it hasn’t done us much good. The party is second to the people. Both democrats and republicans have put the people second.

There’s no reason to believe that democrat will be more empathetic and involved with the causes that affect people of color than any other political party, which is why many Black Americans have divested from politics all-together. No, this doesn’t mean that we’d be better off if we voted republican, but, there’s no reason why the democrats get to take a stroll on this bridge called our backs because they have a slightly better reputation than the repubs.

We don’t need to be focusing on voting bue, we need to be focusing on voting Black and Brown. More people of color, more trans people, more Black women in office. Period.

#1. The “I’ve been an activist for blank amount of years” People.

These people work my fcuking nerves. Also known as the “I’ve been so good to you people! Why aren’t you grateful?” People.

Older white feminists who were part of that one-love hippie bullshit that only ever had room for just one Black guy per love van, and November Members of the resistance who are already burned out after only two years of legal injustices. They never mention their activist ‘resume’ because you asked for it, or because it pertains to the conversation at hand. They do it as a way to put us in our place and justify whatever misstep they took. The activist resume is actually a not-so-low-key white fragility move that’s sure to be followed with swear words and sentences written in all caps.

Dig a little deeper into their SJW resume if you dare, and you’ll surely be underwhelmed with postcard ‘parties’, rallies, knitting ‘parties’ (UGH), and hearty donations to the ACLU. What you won’t find is organic, hands-on involvement in groups and organizations that are centered and dominated with people of color. Any form of social justice by white progressives who fail to center Black women and women of color is nothing more than performance art. Bad performance art.

Ask a Black woman what her activism looks like and she will tell you the mouths she keeps fed, the shelters where she volunteers, the people she lets in her home, and why the streets respect her. She may not call herself a feminist or affiliate with any political party, but you’ll never question where she stands on gender equality, the American judicial system, and politics.

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Writer. Feminist. Advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS.

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