It started with an explanation. I shared some of the things white people need to stop staying about the Black Lives Matter movement, including cherry-picking Dr. King quotes and touting all lives matter. These cliché, overused, and ridiculous retorts need to go, ASAP. Upon publication, my inboxes were flooded with vulgar, ranting messages from white fragiles. This wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last.
When you are openly anti-racist and encourage others to learn to be the same, you’re going to rock the proverbial boat. This comes as no surprise. After all, our country has a four-hundred plus year history of racism, and its undoing isn’t going to happen overnight. The louder, bigger, and more powerful the movement grows, the angrier and more fragile those with unchecked privilege become. They go into attack mode, using their keyboard courage to throw shade at anyone who supports racial equity.
For a course of two weeks, I skimmed some hateful messages in my inbox, some of them anonymous, but didn’t respond. After all, how do I have a civil conversation with a middle-aged white man wearing a Confederate flag tee in his profile picture? I’m uninterested in explaining anything to the guy who called me a slut, the other one who referred to me as an “unintelligent bitch”, or the one who sent me “FBI verified” statistics on Black-on-Black crime. (Dude doesn’t know I’m a former college research writing teacher, and his “verified” statistics are crap.) One said he hoped my breast cancer would return. Um, okay? Warmest regards to you too, pal.
Several proclaimed in all caps (of course) that all lives matter. One woman sweetly invited me to learn more about her faith because God loves us all and doesn’t see color. To the Karen-in-Training, I won’t be RSVP’ing to your fragility party, nor will I reply to any person’s vile, racist soapboxes. The vast majority of the messages went something like this: You can’t tell me what I can and can’t say, because this is a free country. I wanted to reply, free for whom, exactly?
I don’t want pity. What I have observed and experienced as a privileged white woman is nothing compared to the racism that Black people experience every day in this country, including my own four kids. What I do want is for you to understand the type of person you might deal with and to commit to staying the course rather than get sidetracked by fruitless, petty distractors. Know who you are dealing with.
There are people just like the article-responders who trending on social media—and not in a good way. You know the type, like the white couple in St. Louis who “guarded” their mansion by pointing guns at protesters, the white woman who pointed a gun at a Black family outside a Chipotle, and Amy Cooper who falsely and hysterically accused a bird-watcher of threatening her life. These incidents should not be minimized. Summoning the police or pointing a gun are both obviously dangerous.
I wish there were only a handful of those committed to their supremacy, but we all know that’s not the reality. There are Permit Patties and Cornerstore Carolines everywhere, ready to summon the manager or the police at any moment. David Stewart was caught on viral video, refusing to let a Black driver do his job. Stewart blocked Travis Miller’s delivery truck while berating him with questions, including demanding to know why Miller was in the gated community.
Some white people are shaking in their boots right now because their foundation is crumbling. They are scrambling to respond, grasping at anything they can think of, no matter how ridiculous. They will throw religion, the stars and stripes, and the founding fathers into their rants out of desperation. (You know, the founding fathers who profited from enslaving people.) Their statistics aren’t credible, nor are the politicians they elected and spend the better part of their day defending to strangers on the internet. They can claim “that’s not fair” all they want, but their preschooler-ploy won’t change the fact that America is waking up and changing in favor of liberty and justice for all.
Fragiles are bullies, and you know what we teach our children about bullies. Hurting people hurt people, right? Bullies are truly cowards despite the front they put on. They puff their chests and flex their minuscule muscles, their faces turning red as they try to intimidate others. They are “hurt” because their white privilege, which previously sustained them, is relentlessly and justifiably being called into question. Their whiteness, which they have centralized in their politics, religion, and patriotism is being dismantled. If they don’t have their Caucasian-ness, what else do they have to stand upon? (Crickets.) They don’t have good character, a pleasurable personality, or the ability to empathize, that’s for sure. Oh, and that “love thy neighbor as thyself” part in the Bible? To them, that apparently only applies to fellow white people.
They stomp their feet and yell like toddlers, because they have nothing else to go on but their feelings about what was once “great.” Imagine how pathetic it is to live your life in a constant state of upheaval because statues of dead white guys are coming down. Imagine shaking in anger over a glimpse of athletes taking a knee, or getting into a tizzy because they overhear two friends speaking to each other in Spanish. They catch wind that NASCAR is banning the Confederate flag and the NFL is committing to playing the Black national anthem during their first week of games, and they about spill their beer. Don’t even think about having a civilized chat about defunding the police. But oh, they are most definitely not racist, because they have two favorite Black people: Dr. Ben Carson and Candace Owens.
Bullies obsessively leave comments on news stories, claiming their “civil rights” are being violated because they’ve been asked to wear a mask in public. They worship the president and (an inaccurately depicted) pasty-white Jesus whose teachings are conveyed to them by an equally-pasty old male pastor. They might even claim that they “don’t have a racist bone” in their bodies because their church sponsors kids in Africa and they have “one Black friend.” (Tokenism, much?) Oh, and by the way, reparations are ridiculous, protesters are “thugs,” and Columbus discovered America.
A fragile’s favorite move is to name-call. They spend their time intentionally seeking to be offended by the “corrupt” media, then claim that the reporter, author, or podcaster is the snowflake. I also can’t tell you the number of times a white man has sent me an angry message (again, in ALL CAPS, because apparently that’s more powerful), telling me I’m racist. Yes, racist against white people. Should I explain to him that racism against white people doesn’t actually exist, nor does reverse racism? I didn’t think so. Should I reply that I won’t pledge allegiance to whiteness just because I’m white? This isn’t a team sport, and I’m not on the side of supremacy.
I’m working to make the world better for my kids and only have so much time and energy. I refuse to be distracted by the slapped-together bait that fragiles dangle. They’ve made it abundantly clear who they are, and I know who I am. My anti-racism focus, my commitment to activism and white allyship, grows stronger each time I ignore, block, or delete. I hope yours does, too.