Current Events

Dear White People, Who Told You It Would Feel Good?

Words like woke and critical race theory are being tossed about to rally a specific group of White people. When you know the game, you recognize the game, which baffles me that Democrats are still lost on how to combat this narrative. However, a new narrative is emerging, and by new, I mean being shown on television and posted online recently because nothing that racists do is new. It has all been done before. Racists are more expert at regurgitation than a fresh 21-year-old downing their first 5th of liquor in Vegas. 

This new narrative includes seemingly innocent, gentle, kind, looking suburban White women with a Carol Brady haircut, sitting at a dining room table almost in tears about how they are fighting so hard not to be called racist. And because they are so emotionally distraught and mentally drained dealing with racism and don’t want their children learning about the real history of America, including the greatest crimes against humanity in the WORLD being committed by White people, they would prefer to vote for racists. Make that make sense.

[Sidenote: I find it funny while all these news stations are running to interview White women on their thoughts about teaching real history and racism, none of these news stations are interviewing Black mothers. We have children too, and often we have taught our kids about race from day one. But that’s another blog for another day.]

I expect this from out and out, KKK, I say the n-word racists. In fact, if I may be honest, that is how I prefer my racists. Don’t pretend with me. If you hate me because I am Black, there is no need to beat around the bush. Just let me know, and we don’t have to do this awkward dance. My problem is progressive/liberal White people that keep asking me to two-step. We are caught in a dance, and every other beat is you stepping on my toes. So this message is really for you.  

As Dr. King said, First, I must confess that over the past few years, I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

Suburban White men and women are becoming the poster child for “Placate our feelings.” Don’t speak about racism so harshly, or we will not receive it. Please find a way to water down the reality of racism so we can continue to support you. We hung up the flags, knitted pink hats, donated to Black Lives Matter, changed our Twitter profile, we used all the emojis. What more do you want from us? You are making us…uncomfortable, and this doesn’t feel good.

And my question to White people is, “Who told you it would feel good?” (Pause and answer that question. Sit and think about the person who told you it was going to feel good? Have you come up with any name? I want you to really reflect on who told you it was going to feel good.) Who made that promise to you because they told you incorrect information. Let me tell you the truth. Facing you is never easy. Facing you doesn’t always feel good. Facing a reality about you that you thought could never be true doesn’t feel like warm cookies and milk. Facing your history for many isn’t some uplifting, kumbaya experience. It is painful; it is heartbreaking; it is devastating to find out that your family in fact enslaved people. It is devastating to find out that your family participated in the worst crimes against humanity. Let me repeat it, THAT’S…NOT…GONNA…FEEL…GOOD! Get that out of your head.

And please know my job as a writer is not to write about racism to make White people feel good. My job as a writer is not to hand out literary cookies to those with a Black Lives Matter sign in their yard. Making you comfortable is the least of my concerns, and in fact, it is not even a concern of mine. My concern is that I shift the very way that you think, and that is not always going to feel good.

Let me give you this analogy. I have spoken about this before but let me break it down.

I remember years ago, I decided to join a boot camp. The very first day I went to boot camp, the trainer, Chris Vaughn, told us to run up and down a long hill. I started running. I was panting, out of breath, my lungs were on fire, and I felt like I was going to die. By the time I made it back up the hill, I was in tears, and Chris hugged me and said, “Just stick with it, and I will change your life.” The boot camp met every single day except Sundays at 6 pm. I showed up EVERY…SINGLE…DAY. And every single day, I hated it.

I remember when I first started running, my shins hurt so bad to the point of tears. I would leave boot camp and go to the grocery store, and I could hardly walk. The pain seemed to radiate throughout my body. I tried to buy every shoe or item that promised to help alleviate the pain of the shin splints. Nike, Reebok, Adidas, ACIS. It didn’t matter the cost. I just wanted the discomfort to go away. But it didn’t matter what shoe I tried. Every day it still hurt. The pain was still there because I had not changed. My body had not changed. And mentally, I had not changed. I wanted to take the easy way out. But when you are fundamentally trying to change your life, there are no shortcuts.

Flipping tires.

Every day I showed up at boot camp, I hated Chris. I hated hearing his name. I hated seeing his face. I hated hearing him speak about eating healthy. How many more times was he going to tell me abs were made in the kitchen?! I hated everything about him! But my anger was misplaced. It wasn’t him that I hated. If I was going to honestly face myself, I had to admit it was me that I hated. I had to admit that I hated myself for allowing my body to get out of control. And then I had to face WHY I let that happen, and those were the ugly parts and the emotional parts that hurt to face. 

I remember those closest to me said, “Why don’t you just quit.” And I had quit ALL MY LIFE. I wanted to see this through. And it hurt. (Even typing this, I remember the pain.) But I was going to stick with it. There were days when everything on the inside of me was saying, “Hannah, all you need to do is sit down, and the pain will be gone.” And that is true. But what would that benefit my health and my body? I was going to have to fight through the discomfort and the pain. And one day, I can’t tell you when it happened, but one day it didn’t hurt so badly. And the next day, it hurt even less. And then finally, it didn’t hurt at all because I faced it. I went through it. And when new people would join the boot camp I could see them suffering, but it was my job because I had fought through the pain to show them there was a way to get through this, and it will not feel good. I do not have a magical potion. It’s going to hurt. But if you can fight through the discomfort now, you will come out better on the other side.

This was after an almost 10 mile run. Lord have mercy.

THAT is facing racism.

It’s not gonna feel good. Do it anyway.

It’s gonna hurt. Do it anyway.

It’s gonna be painful. Do it anyway.

It’s gonna require sacrifice. Do it anyway.

It is gonna require that you lose some friends. Do it anyway.

It’s gonna reveal things about you that you don’t want to face. Do it anyway.

It is gonna require lifelong monitoring. Do it anyway.

Here is the CAVEAT for my liberal, progressives, White folks who think this blog doesn’t apply to them. I was working out, looking good, and I thought, I GOT THIS. I don’t need to work at this every day. I don’t need to focus on what I eat or drink. I don’t need to listen to those folks who helped get me here. I’m looking good! My best friend’s cousin is a Black person that works out. (HELLO!) And I slipped right back into old habits and old ways of thinking because I thought I knew everything and disregarded the teachings that I had learned. And I found myself right back in the same oppressive thinking, fighting again to dig myself out. Do not think when it comes to racism, you have to all down. Every day is a learning experience and a day to check yourself.

Recently I went on a retreat in the mountains, and it was a half a mile walk to the cafeteria and a half a mile back. I was told when I checked in, “You can call the front desk, and they will send a golf cart for you to take you if you don’t want to walk.” And I am not gonna lie, for a split second, I considered it. But I thought back to my boot camp training, and Chris telling me, “Either you do, or you don’t, Hannah. There is no try.” And every day I walked that mile (a few times), and I remembered what I learned. I also remembered how I got back in this situation by thinking I already knew every damn thing. I was in this situation now because I didn’t stick to the workouts daily. I didn’t stick to healthy eating.  

I came home from my retreat and joined a gym. And every day, it’s a fight, but I remember those shin splints and remember that I can do it. And I remember it’s not always gonna feel good. There are days I don’t want to deal with it. There are days I don’t wanna get out of bed at 6 am. But because I am fighting for my betterment, I get up daily even when it doesn’t feel good.

Please KNOW, talking about racism may make you feel uncomfortable, but dealing with racism doesn’t feel good. No one is asking about my level of comfort because ultimately, White people understand what they have put Black people through in America, and that is the part they are afraid to face. I leave you with this question by Jane Elliott. Answer it honestly and then decide it you still want to tell Black people your feelings are hurt from learning about racism.

Additional Readings:

The 10 Stages of Facing Racism

Dear White Allies, There Will Be No Cookies

Dear White Allies, Stop Dangling Allyship in The Face Of Black People Like A Carrot

1 reply »

  1. Why is it that endurance sports are the best metaphor?! Lol

    I also think that folks need to learn how to stop hiding behind their children. It’s obnoxious, and serves as a reminder that children were taught to be overseers by committing violence as well. None of this feels good to anyone experiencing it, but just like the 15k I did, that’s not the point.

    NO ONE is entitled to feel good all the time, nobody, and abusers love to swim in the cesspool of toxic positivity while COMPLETELY lacking self-awareness. It’s not our job to make people feel good; that was the job forced on us by monsters. If people want to be allies, they can stop commanding us to make them feel good while facing consequences.

Leave a Reply to Stephanie L. Webb Cancel reply