This article can also be found at Degree180.
In the fight for racial justice, I’ve noticed an increase of my Caucasian peers enthusiastically participating. I want to start by saying that support for social justice movements is always awesome. What isn’t awesome however, is when white allies talk over people of color as though they fully understand their experiences with racial injustices.
The fact of the matter is, no you don’t understand. As a white person, I don’t understand what it’s like to be the victim of institutionalized racism and I probably never will. While I’ve probably been made fun of for being white at some point in my life, the fact of the matter is that it simply isn’t equivalent to being a victim of institutionalized racism. I’m not going to try to go further into that, because of the simple fact that I don’t know what it’s like to be a victim of institutionalized racism. Sure, I could spout off a few race-related statistics that I read on the internet or have heard from peers, but I really can’t tell you anything from an emotional perspective, regarding what it’s like to have endured those statistics.
The bottom line here is, if you’re the loudest one in the conversation on racism then you’re doing it wrong.
It is also essential to listen to people of color of non-Western societies. There have been a few instances in which I’ve witnessed a white ally aggressively dispute a person of another culture who had an experience or opinion that conflicted with typical Western views on racism. Though it may be tempting to voice disagreement in cases like these, it is important to consider that Western views aren’t the only relevant views on the social justice front. Vocally expressing disagreement in an instance such as this could potentially come across as an attempt at silencing people of color.
In summary, it isn’t my intention to imply that white people shouldn’t be allies in the fight for racial justice; in fact I think just the opposite. My point is that it is important at times for white people to simply sit back, listen to and absorb what people of color have to say.
Sometimes no comment is needed.