White America’s Communication Problem

project-communication-problem

By S. (April 23, 2018)

Dear White America,
We have a communication problem. You are getting better at listening. In the past you’ve blamed us for not communicating to you in a manner that would facilitate you listening. We were too angry, too quiet, too loud, politically inconvenient, self-centered, stuck in victim mindset.

Finally, thanks to cell phone footage, you can see for yourselves what us black people know too well. You had to see it for yourselves to believe it. And you had to see it not once but multiple times, over and over, to truly understand. Now you get it. Black people are in danger from cops. Thank you. I am sincerely grateful at how far you’ve come in the last 15 years. But there’s still so much more work. There’s all the stuff that you don’t see, that you’ll never see. So we need you to listen. We need you to step up and intervene.

I knew Holly Hylton, I complained to you about her. You brushed me off and got annoyed at my discomfort. You blamed me for not having a better attitude, for not trying harder, for being a victim. I came to you because you were my friend. I was asking for support for your help in allowing me to process the racist and ugly way Holly treated me when I: *worked with her
*went to school with her
*bought coffee from her
*heard her sermon
*read her newspaper op ed
*watched her Oscar acceptance speech.

You said Holly didn’t do anything wrong, she didn’t mean to, she has a good heart, I caught her on a bad day, she gives money to starving children every week, she has black friends, she grew up in a black neighborhood, she went to a BLM protest, she loves hip hop. You defended Holly against my claims of racism.

You interrogated me. You made me become a lawyer, a ballistics expert, a pathologist, an economist, a historian, a translator of cultures, and many more so that you could find the loophole in my feelings and prove that I’m wrong about Holly.

Holly’s reputation as a non-racist became more important to you than my emotional needs.

You denied me support and validation when I came to you vulnerable and needy. That’s not what friends do.

If you’re a true friend, you’ll listen, learn, and apply what you’ve learned. You’ll call Holly out before she calls the police on me. You’ll empathize with Holly so that you can better figure out how to communicate effectively with her. There will be social consequences to her actions based on what she and has not learned.

This is where the party ends, because I can’t stand here listening to you and your racist friend.

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