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Dear Josh, Wealth Does Not Cancel Out Racism

In today’s news of The Audacity of Mediocre White Men, disgraced Food Network host Josh Denny decided to get on Beyonce’s internet and respond to Trevor Noah’s commentary on Joe Rogan by saying, “Trever Noah has only lived in America as a millionaire. I know more about what it means to be black in America than Trevor Noah.”(When you are disowned by the Food Network, that says a lot. I digress.)

I shouldn’t be, but I am always shocked by the audacity of White people. To think Josh Denny was sitting at home as a redheaded White man and thought, “You know what? I am Blacker than a Black man.” I could pick that apart inch by inch but I won’t. 😏 And then, after formulating that thought, posted it. Twitter should immediately institute a button that asks, “Are you sure you want to post this stupid, arrogant, racist shit?” If that button did exist, Josh Denny would have clicked yes.

Josh Denny and many White people who think like Josh do not understand that wealth does not cancel out racism.

We have seen countless racist incidents that have involved Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James, and Beyonce. Do we even need to speak about the racism President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have faced? All of them are ridiculously wealthy, and still, they have to contend with racism. We don’t even have to get into the Black people who aren’t uber-wealthy but are of the upper echelon of American society- doctors, politicians, lawyers, tech people, etc., have all faced racism. However, many people like Josh Denny believe that if you can afford a lovely home, a luxury car, and haute couture clothes, you never have to worry about racism.  

Because of who Josh appears to be, I am sure he is delighted to have this attention on him. If I were a failed and disgraced Food Network star that fumbled a paycheck, I would be happy to have a little attention as well. I doubt he will even attempt to learn anything from what he has said. However, as I have said before, I am a firm believer that one person’s ignorance is a tool of learning for others. So, I will take Josh’s ignorance and hopefully dissect it in a way that will help others.

There are three things taking place in Josh’s tweet that I would like to address:

  1. Josh believes that wealth cancels out racism. Clearly, that is not the case from the examples/links above. Racism doesn’t care about your 401K. Racism doesn’t care how much money you have in the bank. Racism is racism. But in this nation, many White people believe that if you have obtained certain status, racism just magically disappears. And they love to point to that ONE Black person that has “made it.” Why? Because that is their way of absolving themselves from any responsibility when dealing with systemic racism. For instance, it is like the CEO of a cigarette company saying, “Well, look at my mom. She lived to be 110 years old, and she smoked a pack EVERY SINGLE DAY!” And that may be true; however it DOESN’T speak to the millions of people that have smoked every day and have gotten lung cancer. Pointing to that one person doesn’t negate the facts. It doesn’t erase what we know to be true about smoking and its connection to various forms of cancer. That is systemic racism. You cannot point to ONE person and say, “Oh well, look, they made it! So, racism doesn’t exist.” I believe that White people say things like this, so they do not have to face reality. Systemic racism is a fact. However, many White people are fine resting in a delusion. The cognitive dissonance is fundamental. For instance, Tulsi Gabbard stated on Twitter that America couldn’t possibly be racist, being that a nearly all-White jury convicted Ahmaud Arbery’s killers. She then invoked Dr. King, saying that most Americans thought like him that people shouldn’t be judged on the color of their skin and the content of their character. IS THIS THE NARRATIVE SHE WANTS TO GO WITH?! Ahmaud would be ALIVE if he wasn’t JUDGED BY HIS SKIN COLOR!

What isn’t clicking? But saying things like this helps White people feel like we have reached a point in this nation where racism has disappeared. Saying things like Trevor is rich helps White people feel better. Trevor Noah was born in Johannesburg, South Africa while it was under apartheid. Trevor Noah is born to a White father and a Black mother and has spoken extensively about his childhood growing up in South Africa. Life for Trevor aint been no crystal stair. It has been a life undergirded by racism, and then he came to America. He is facing the same racism no matter his wealth. So please stop this belief that wealth cancels out racism.  

2. Josh seemingly equates being poor with being Black. This is the point that I want to key in on. When Black people speak about White privilege, many White people will immediately say, “No. I grew up poor.” Being Black is not equated to being poor. So if you directly go that, check yourself. That is a thought that is rooted in racism. As we have seen from the examples, you can be uber-wealthy and still face racism. Racism has NOTHING to do with your wealth. White privilege has NOTHING to do with wealth. But when Black people try to speak to White people about privilege, they believe privilege is like something you can buy at a store, and you have it. Like, “Oh, I went and bought a box of White privilege today. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t just go purchase a box of this.” It doesn’t work that way. Privilege and many of us have it on some level, is something you have that you did not earn. For instance, I am LGBTQ. I am feminine. I did not EARN that; it is simply who I am. I understand that I will have an easier time assimilating in the world, coming out of the closet, being accepted versus a lesbian that presents as masculine. That is reality. Do I feel guilty about it? NO! But how can I use that privilege to benefit others who may not have it as easy as me? That is what many Black people are challenging White people to do. Being Black in America isn’t about being poor. It is about facing undeniable hardships because of your skin color. It has nothing to do with wealth. And White people live in a world where their skin color isn’t a hindrance to them. So how can White people USE that privilege for the benefit of others? 

3. And finally, my third point, White people, I have to get this off my chest. Many of you are so quick to place yourself in the footprints of those who have genuinely been oppressed without EVER understanding how it really feels to be oppressed. We have seen this with the masks mandates and many White people comparing wearing masks to slavery. How? Make it make sense. I have a friend that is currently going through breast cancer which will more than likely end with a double mastectomy. What does it look for me who has NEVER had to deal with breast cancer, never had to deal with having my breasts removed, saying, “Well I have been working out, and my breasts are getting smaller, so I understand more than my friend what it feels like to have your breasts removed.” You all would drag me across the internet, and rightly so. Unless you are a person that has had your breasts removed due to cancer, you cannot relate. Saying that you know MORE than a person who is LIVING THAT LIFE is not only laughable but also hurtful. White people ARE QUICK to compare what they perceive as a MINOR injustice to being Black in America. Which begs the question, if you can suddenly SEE this as an injustice when you want to compare it to MINOR things White people go through, how come you can NEVER see it as an injustice when Black people are going through it daily? Stop comparing yourself to Black people and stop making any minor inconvenience equivalent to racism in America. 

Josh has no idea what it means to be Black in America. And if I can be honest and say, White people couldn’t muster up the strength to be Black in America. So please never compare yourself to what Black people are facing and have faced in this nation.

Thank you.

2 replies »

  1. Hannah-your message and insights are ALWAYS grateful received. Thank you for your fierce tenacity and steadfast and honest reflection of this world!

  2. “White people, I have to get this off my chest. Many of you are so quick to place yourself in the footprints of those who have genuinely been oppressed without EVER understanding how it really feels to be oppressed. ”

    If I had a dollar for every time some white person listed out for me everything they had to go through in their lives that’s apparently the EXACT SAME as what I have to go through, I’d be financially comfortable and STILL getting pulled over for driving while brown.

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