Thoughts, Musings and Reflections

Dear White People, You Cannot Legislate Your Way Out Of Discomfort

This week the Individual Freedom bill supported by Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis passed the Senate Education Committee. The Individual Freedom bill would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making White people feel discomfort when teaching students or conducting diversity, equity, and inclusion training with employees. When DeSantis was asked about the bill, he did what many White people do, reciting the only quote they know from Dr. Martin Luther King stating, “You think about what MLK stood for, ‘He said he didn’t want people judged on the color of their skin but on the content of their character.” Funny that he didn’t quote Dr. King stating, “Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.” I find it funny yet typical that White people want to legislate their way out of discomfort. Since they cannot control the undeniable truth, they will attempt to control how it makes them feel.

When laws like the Individual Freedom bill and others we have seen around the country are written, they are never about Black people. The White is simply silent. White people create these laws for White people. These are laws designed to stop young people from learning about the real history of White people in America. If we were to be honest and understand that we are going to face some discomfort, when we look at the totality of American history, some of the most, if not THE most, egregious crimes against humanity have been committed by White people. That is simply factual. And I understand for many White people that doesn’t feel good. When you are in a room, and an instructor or speaker is talking about the history of slavery in America, Black Codes, Jim Crow, and systemic racism, that might make you feel uncomfortable. However, I am a firm believer when something is making me feel uncomfortable, that is my mind’s way of saying, “Pay attention. This is making you uncomfortable for a reason.” And that’s often the part where many White people get stuck. They don’t want to deal with the discomfort. I spoke about this extensively in my blogs, Conversations Between A Black Woman and a White Woman In a Nation Pretending Not To See Color  and Dear White People, Who Told You It Would Feel Good?

So instead of America facing the truth, dealing with the discomfort, facing themselves, they would rather create a law that states in part, “An individual should not be made to feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race.”

My question is, who is concerned about the discomfort of Black people?

I can recall, and I am sure many Black people can, being a young student, and it was time for the teacher to speak about slavery, and everyone in the classroom would turn to look at me. I felt highly uncomfortable. I can recall when my daughter attended the University of Kentucky. Her professor Michael Trask, who taught English 260 Introduction to Black Writers, told her she would get a zero on the assignment because she refused to sit in his class and watch 12 Years A Slave. She tried to explain that it was traumatic to constantly read about and witness enslaved people who represented her and her ancestors. Michael Trask wasn’t concerned about my daughter’s discomfort. No one took into account how watching a Black woman being violently assaulted would make my daughter feel in a predominantly White class on a White campus. Clearly, Michael Trask didn’t care. He didn’t mind my daughter being uncomfortable and even threatened her grades because she felt uncomfortable. So, where were the laws for my daughter’s discomfort?

None of this was ever an issue until White people started to feel uncomfortable.

No one cared about Black students feeling uncomfortable. It was all good as long as White people were always portrayed as compassionate victors. But as the African proverb states, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” Now the lion has the pen, and White people are afraid. White people are worried that the truth is being revealed. And now, magically, White people don’t want to feel uncomfortable. White people have NO understanding that Black people dwell in the realm of uncomfortable EVERY DAY!

Burying your 7-year-old granddaughter shot to death by police while she slept on a couch is uncomfortable.
Having an officer toss you across a classroom like a ragdoll is uncomfortable.
Seeing your son dead in the street for over 4 hours is uncomfortable.
Having a police officer wrestle you to the ground in an illegal chokehold while you whisper, “I can’t breathe” until you die is uncomfortable.
Being told your fiancé has been shot and killed by the police the morning of your wedding is uncomfortable.
Leaving an Air BNB and because you didn’t wave to the White neighbor you have the police called on you is uncomfortable.
Being told you are speaking too loudly on a nature walk is uncomfortable.
Being kicked off a Napa Valley Wine Train because you were told you were too loud is uncomfortable.
Being in your home and an officer enters the wrong apartment and kills you is uncomfortable.
Having the police called on you as you bird watch is uncomfortable.
Having a school dictate how you can wear the hair that grows out of your head is uncomfortable.
Trying to sleep with your girlfriend, and minutes later, you are clinging to her dying body in a hallway in uncomfortable.
Your son going out for Skittles and tea and never coming home again is uncomfortable.
Being raped by White men and the justice system does nothing because you are a Black woman is uncomfortable.
Walking miles to work because you are fighting for the right to sit upfront on a bus is uncomfortable.
Sitting at a segregated lunch counter and being spit on as you fight for justice is uncomfortable.
Being the ONLY Black person in White spaces is uncomfortable.
Regulating every word that you say in White spaces is uncomfortable.
Getting a phone call that your daughter, who was on her way to a new journey in her life, is dead on a jailhouse floor is uncomfortable.
Trying to jog down the street and being racially profiled and murdered is uncomfortable.
Being told that your son was murdered in jail because he was placed in a shower with water as hot as 180 degrees is uncomfortable.
Being nervous every time you get in your car to drive because you are Black is uncomfortable.
Being overly conscious of every move you make in a store, so someone doesn’t think you are stealing is uncomfortable.
Existing in a world where your skin is your sentence is uncomfortable.
Black people dwell in the realm of being uncomfortable every single day.

So, where is the legislation for our discomfort? Those laws don’t exist. America created laws to contribute to Black discomfort and now wants to create laws to alleviate White discomfort. White America doesn’t care that Black people are uncomfortable. White people care about their discomfort.

So, when you hear about these laws, apply them to Black people and ask yourself, is this about everyone’s comfort, or is this about White comfort? For example, I added a bedroom addition to my home. I wanted a bedroom that was designed for me. I have a window seat in my room, and I was telling someone about it, and they didn’t believe that I could sit in the window seat because it seemed small. And I had to let them know the window seat is DESIGNED for ME because I have BUILT THE ENTIRE ROOM to MY SPECIFICATIONS. The window seat was DESIGNED PERFECTLY FOR ME AND MY COMFORT. If you are invited to my home, you will have to deal with my MY specifications.

That window seat is America.

America is built and designed to the specifications of White people. Everything in America is designed for the comfort of White people. The minute White people feel any discomfort, it’s a problem, hence the new laws. Face that. Absorb that. And then have the courage to deal with that. And it is not going to be comfortable, but who promised it would be?

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