White People, We Must Own Our Racism So We Can Change Our Racism
Whether it is a white cop brutally murdering an innocent black man or a white woman lying threats to the cops on a black person for asking them to follow rules, I always see black friends post ‘that could’ve been me.’ I want to pose the question to white people, could that have been you? Could you’ve been the white male cop brutally murdering an innocent black person? Could you’ve been the white women hysterically lying to the cops that a black person threatened you because they asked you to put your dog on a leash?
Go deep, white people, for real, go deep within yourself. Don’t answer ‘no way’ all socially acceptably quick because our unexamined responses keep these nightmare situations alive.
I grew up with white people who’d be that white man and that white woman. Of course they’d never admit it but if you asked any of the white people if they’d do what they did, they’d probably answer ‘no.’ White woman, Amy Cooper, who lied to the police that a black man threatened her is still claiming she’s not racist though we have actual footage of her being insanely, ridiculously, ninth layer of hell, racist.
So white people let’s save the world trouble and repeat after me ‘I AM RACIST!’ America was founded on white supremacy, if you’re white in America, you’re racist! Unless you’ve gone through an immense amount of unlearning White America, understanding Black America, and self-reflection, which if you haven’t noticed isn’t on most white people’s bucket list. I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve had with white people who are all ‘you think I’m racist?’ Yep. ‘So you think my dad’s a racist?’ Of course. ‘What about my sweet mom, Carol?’ Yes, your sweet, cookie baking cracker mother Carol is a fucking racist.
I don’t get why so many white racists refuse to admit it. Is it because you’re afraid to challenge your air condition, tradition privilege? Is it because you don’t want to comprehend the white supremacy America was founded on and continues to run today? Is it because you think racists suck? Well guess what, you suck! Do you care more about sucking or innocent black lives being killed, oppressed, and harassed? Confederate Flag flying hillbilly is on a different level of racism than unconscious, complacent cookie baking cracker Carol but the more educated Carols who stand up to racism the less Confederate Flag flying hillbillies there are, the less racist cops, the less racist politicians, the more safe black people in America.
I know it is hard for most white people to admit to shit that isn’t fake posi, sunshine rainbow cash certificate success so I’ll start…I Justin Blackburn am racist. Do I think white people are more deserving than black people? Of course not. Do I walk around spouting racist jokes? Never. If I’m walking down the street alone at 2am and I see black people, do I freak out? Not nearly as much as I did as a kid. Why? Because I realized ‘I am a fucking racist’ years ago and I’ve worked on unlearning that part of me and teaching it the truth.
I was born in South Carolina around a lot of white men who I believe could be a cop murdering an innocent black man because they didn’t seem to value black lives. They spouted ignorant rhetoric like ‘black people just want hand outs’, ‘black people steal’, ‘if I ever saw my daughter with a black, I’d get my gun…’ etc. When your corroded mind is filled with criminal, demented stories you’ve told yourself about a race of people for years, will you relax, get to the bottom of a situation, and do your best to understand? Probably not. Will you see them, assume the worst, and shoot first? Probably.
Due to where my soul incarnated I was taught racism. 3rd, white kids called the only black kid in class ‘their slave’. My teacher didn’t become absolutely horrified and give the class a lecture on the evils of racism. Instead she half-heartedly said ‘stop that now’ and proceeded to continue to blame everything on the black child for the rest of year. That unchecked energy seeps into all the impressionable minds around if it isn’t called out and retaught.
There are other stories but we’ll skip to high school me, a giant idiot with little vision of what he wanted from life. One thing my idiot ass wanted was acceptance from other idiots. So when I noticed idiots making racist jokes and other idiots laughing, I thought ‘hmm, I can do that.’ I started making racist jokes and getting laughter acceptance from idiots. My dumbass had no conscious clue that those jokes were born in the same energy where black people are being murdered, locked up, oppressed for only being black but I said them to fit it with our unconscious idiot crackers. No adults ever came up to me, saying ‘that’s awful, let me explain why!’ Instead they laughed.
Cut to college, my dumb need for approval ass joined a frat cause some of those high school idiots were already in it. I thought ‘cool, I can be accepted cause they are.’ Shit was that a bad idea, as that frat was filled with the most racist idiots I’d ever met. Not my high school, say things to be funny racist idiots I was used to, these backwards backwoods morons had a dead racist gassiness swirling around their tiny pupils, it was their blood. They made my racist ass so uncomfortable I took an African American Literature class where I read and realized ‘shit, I’m a fucking racist.’ I stopped going to frat parties and started going to poetry slams where I was educated even deeper on racism by brilliant black poets who were living it and expressing it.
As any devastating addiction doesn’t end with admitting, it begins. What admitting allows is the space for you to call yourself out and change. Before gentrification I dated a woman who lived in Bed Sty, New York. During the day I’d play basketball and feel like the cool three point shooting white guy accepted by black people. One night we didn’t get off the train till 3 am, I notice it is her and I and a lot of black people. All my southern years of hearing ‘don’t go to the black neighborhoods, they’ll rob and kill you’ began blaring in my crazy brain of fear. Instead of calling the cops, screaming ‘officer, help black people are walking around at night in their neighborhood,’ I realized again ‘shit, I’m racist.’
Let’s play those two scenarios out with the white person admitting their racism…
Black man approaches white woman ‘do you mind putting your dog on a leash?’ White woman becomes scared of black man for no reason other than her own racism. Instead of freaking out, calling the cops, she realizes she’s racist and owns her racism. “Sir, I’m sorry, I’m a racist. It is not your fault but I’m freaking out cause my brain is telling me to be scared but I know it is just my crazy brain of racism so I’m putting my dog on a leash and walking home to educate myself and change my brain on racism. Thank you for showing my problem. Have a great day.”
Scenario with police officer…Would not even happen because the man would never become a police officer because he would realize he’s racist and having a ‘public service’ job is nightmare idea for the public until he educates himself and transcends his racism.
White people I ask with every ounce of soul in my being, please get out of your white comfort zone and own your racism! I don’t care how insignificant you think it is. Even if you think it is just a joke or a fearful thought or a dismissive thought or not speaking up againist other white racists or your entire heart not breaking into a million pieces when you see what happened to George Floyd, I want you to own it and say ‘I’m racist, that’s why my heart isn’t breaking.’ Then I ask you to educate yourself on Systematic Racism, to challenge all your learned beliefs, to learn all about your White Privilege, to read James Baldwin and other black writers, to make sure your local police wear body cameras, to donate to places like the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to educate your cop friends, to educate your white friends and family, to get outside your comfort zone and attend events you normally wouldn’t, to be active in your communities in creating a safe place for people of color, to do anything you feel inspired to do to help the situation, and to listen when black people speak with an open heart and mind that knows it doesn’t know shit about what black people are experiencing.
I ask that you heal your racist mind so you can be an ally so you can help other white people change their racist minds so we can change the world and make it an equal field where everyone feels safe to be themselves without the constant fear of being murdered, harassed, and oppressed.
White people, feel free to share this article with your uneducated white friends and family.
Justin Blackburn is a poet, comedian, author, and life coach. His latest novel The Bisexual Christian Suburban Failure Enlightening Bipolar Blues is all transcending your trauma so you can change your world!