First of all, as you can see from the picture, I am a black man. I will be 37 years old next month.
A little while ago, I stumbled onto a series of “Dear White People” statements. Here are a few of them:
“Dear White People,
No one is asking you to apologize for your ancestors. We are asking you to dismantle the systems they built and you maintain and benefit from.”
Here is another:
“Dear White People,
No one is saying your life can’t be hard if you’re white. But it’s not hard, because you’re white.”
Here is another statement a friend of mine directed me to:
“My Fellow ‘Mercans,
It’s become increasingly clear that our nation & it’s Black citizens are in the bitter throes of a full-on abusive relationship.
Let’s just keep it 100… America loves it’s Black citizens the same way a pimp loves the h*es in his stable. That is to say this nation loves us – but only conditionally. And it demands our love – but only completely.
For the entirety of it’s 240 years as a nation-state, the United States of America has essentially made of cottage industry of churning us out, using us up, & throwing us away. All the while expecting us to be eternally grateful for the opportunity to be of service to the nation – no matter how vicious, malicious, & insidious our suffering. It wants to own us: body, mind, & soul – and, in exchange, we gain the right to exist – maybe – but only if we constantly reiterate our undying, unquestioning, unconditional loyalty to creed & county.
Maybe it’s high time for an intervention. Perhaps we need to get some couple’s counseling or seriously consider a trial separation…
‘Cause, frankly, this ain’t working out for either of us. And it only seems to be getting worse…”
Okay. Now it’s time for ME to talk.
Dear Black People,
In my nearly 37 years of living, I have seen and heard about every single issue there is. I’ve experienced racism. I’ve gone into stores and have been followed around because someone thought I was going to steal something. I’ve been pulled over and stopped by law enforcement because of “matching the description” of someone else. I’ve been jumped by and beaten up by racist white people, many times. I’ve been called “nigger” and “coon” by white folks as well. I’ve been threatened before on many occasions by white folks.
Now, let me tell you something else I’ve seen and heard. I’ve seen and heard the issues many of you have with white people. I’ve heard the stereotypes. The constant references to slavery. The accusations of racism at every turn. The allegations that white people are out to get us. The belief that we all “hate ourselves” if partake in relationships with white people. I’ve seen and heard these things and a whole lot more.
And here is what I say to that. IT’S BULLSHIT. ALL OF IT.
Let me be completely clear. Whenever those things happened to me that I mentioned above, I understood exactly what it meant. I wasn’t happy. I was sad, angry, furious, frustrated, scared and the list goes on.
However, something else I knew is that with all the white people in this country, the ONLY reason I should have any level of anger toward white people as a whole is if every single white person or even MOST of them in the U.S. had a hand in those things happening to me, or hell, any time something happened negatively to a black person and a white person was on the other end of it. Since it is not at all possible that “all” or even “most” white people had a say in those things happening, how does it make sense that I put them all or even most of them in the same category?
How many white people do you know? I’m serious. Take a second and come up with a good estimate of the number of white people you know on some personal level, whether as a friend or an acquaintance.
I consider myself to be a very intelligent man, so I am going to make an educated guess here. For those of you who have these things to say about white people, there’s no way you can know any significant amount of them to have ANY idea as to the minds and hearts of white folks in general. You do not personally know even a FRACTION of those who reside in this country.
So when you get to ranting and raving about them, what specifically is your issue?
As for what was written above…white people are expected to “dismantle the systems built by their ancestors”? And what systems are these? Along with that, these are the same systems that white people as a whole (obviously) maintain and benefit from?
Again…please clarify. What are these systems and where is your proof that white people in general are maintaining and benefitting from them?
As for the next statement, so life is not hard for white people “because they are white”? Interesting. So according to that logic, the ONLY issues that exist in this country are issues directly related to a person being a minority in some way? There is apparently NO way a white person could have a problem of any kind and if they did, well, it’s not so bad, because they are white? In what ways specifically is a white person’s life “not as hard” because of them being white? Explain every issue out there that minorities face and tell me that either white people absolutely CANNOT experience these problems, or that NO other problems exist for them that could compare.
Better yet, do you know of every single issue a person could face in their lives? Because in all my worldly intelligence, I don’t believe I could make the assessment that a white person has an easier life simply because they are white. Since I don’t know every white person out there, I cannot imagine the kinds of issues that could exist for them. I’m smart enough to know that racism isn’t the only problem out there, nor is it even the worst. There are TONS of problems a person can experience in his or her lifetime. Unless I know of ALL or even MOST of these issues, there is no way I could accurately assess how much “easier” a person’s life is, nor would I know that these issues are better or worse than mine. I also know that there are other factors involved as well, which means that I as a black man could face the same exact problems a white person could face and those factors could mean that we handle the problem in two entirely different ways. Where is the guarantee that it would be worse for me simply because I’m black?
Let me answer that for you: There IS no guarantee.
As for the letter above addressed to fellow “Mercans” (whatever the hell that means), if I understand this correctly, the way black people are treated is the equivalent to a pimp and how he treats his women? How so? I see a lot of general, meritless statements in there that really don’t say much. Where is the proof of all this? How about some specific (there’s that word again) examples? I could sit here and tell you that a house is on fire, but what difference does it make if I go out of my way to avoid telling you or even trying to let you know where that fire is?
Both analogies are garbage. How exactly is America treating us the way a pimp treats his hoes? So the nation loves us, but only conditionally. Then America demands our love, but completely. In what ways are these true?
“For the entirety of it’s 240 years as a nation-state, the United States of America has essentially made of cottage industry of churning us out, using us up, & throwing us away.”
Throwing us away, how? How are we being “used up”? I’m not even sure where to go with this, because again, no specific examples are given. I guess it’s a lot easier to just point the finger and place blame than it is to actually think and cite examples to strengthen points for the sake of validity. If I was THAT certain that something was a particular way, I would have no problem providing examples. That would just make my argument stronger. Speaking vaguely only brings about more questions and when you don’t have answers, you’re the one who gets frustrated. Not the one asking the questions.
Oh, but I know the answer to that one also. Been there and done that. See, whenever a person like me or even white people ask for clarification or specifics, it’s met with responses very similar to the following:
“Well if you don’t know, then I don’t know what to tell you.”
“I shouldn’t have to explain it to you.”
“If you don’t get it now, then you never will.”
“You’re not black, so even if I explained it to you, you would never understand.”
“You married a white woman (addressing me), so you’re REALLY out of touch with what black people have to face every day.”
“You’re not gonna want to hear it anyway.”
You get the idea. These kinds of responses tell me one thing…
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT AND YOU EXPECT OTHER PEOPLE TO FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOU.
People aren’t stupid. Whether it’s a white person or a black person like me who can clearly see through the bullshit, we are far from ignorant. Again, if I was THAT certain about something, then explaining would be easy. Examples would be given. Now I can understand if this is spoken and people didn’t want to hear it. But I have yet to hear anything other than vagueness like this or inaccurate stereotypes and assessments.
I have heard this kind of thing for most of my life and I’m done entertaining it. It’s really that simple. See, we as black people have all this and that to say about what white people need to do, but have you seen OUR community lately? Nah, you don’t need to go to a ghetto or hood.
Just turn on the news. We’re on there every day and it damn sure isn’t for saving kitty-cats from trees.
“But white people commit crimes, too!”
That’s interesting. Let me talk about “Black Lives Matter” for a second. Now every time someone says “All lives matter!” panties are in bunches. Why? Many of you say it’s because “Yes, all lives matter, but we are talking specifically about black lives by the hands of law enforcement.”
So for one, the black lives who end every day at the hands of our own aren’t worthy of being fought for. Got it.
And two, even with this logic, wouldn’t that shut down the whole “white people commit crimes, too” statement? Because after all, “Yes, white people commit crimes, but…”
We’re not talking about white people. We’re talking about YOU. See how that works?
One last example. With all due respect to the late Muhammad Ali (as I AM a fan), I want to address something he said during an interview back in 1971. In response to “Not all white people are racist,” this is what he said:
“There are many white people who mean right and in their hearts, wanna do right, but there are so few. If 10,000 rattlesnakes were coming down that aisle there and I had a door here that I could shut, and in that ten thousand, one thousand meant right; 1,000 rattlesnakes didn’t wanna bite me. I knew they were good. Should I let all these rattlesnakes come down, hoping that 1,000 get together and form a shield, or should I just close the door and stay safe?”
Fair enough. My next question is, can a white person say the same about a black person? No, I don’t mean can they simply say it, but can they say it without us getting all kinds of heartburn from it? I doubt it.
So what is the difference?
I know the deal. How dare I speak ill of the dead, right? Well that’s not what I’m doing. Understand the phrase. Having an opinion is not “speaking ill of the dead.” I would have said the same thing if he were still living. Also, I know that many of you love Ali and his opinion holds a ton more weight than mine simply because of who he was and the fact that he did a lot of talking. That’s fine…in your mind. But I’m not shutting up for anybody. I’m not calling the man foul names. Hell, in theory, I’m not even disagreeing with him. I’m simply asking that if white people said the same exact thing about black people; that we are “not all bad, but so few of us mean right and wanna do right,” could we accept that just as quickly as we accepted this from him? Would it be all right for a white person to say that he or she “would defend themselves against black people as a whole, because there are too few blacks who wanna do right while there are far more who don’t”?
I didn’t think so.
If a white person said that, it would be considered as racist. However, because it’s Muhammad Ali, it’s okay. Right. That’s another reason my opinion stays what it is, because most of you aren’t responding to the phrase; you are responding to the person. That’s not thinking for yourself; that’s being brainwashed. If any of you read and make it this far, you’ll either skim over this part or come up with some half-baked explanation to make it sound like it’s your own view and not just piggybacking off his. That’s fine. Again…what is the difference?
There is no difference. It’s not even “similar;” they are exactly the same thing. A white person would never be allowed to say those things, because they would be heavily scrutinized.
Speaking of racist/racism, some of you need to look up what the word means, because a lot of you have it twisted. There is this impression within our community that blacks and other minorities cannot be racist. Well, nowhere in the definition does it say that. Many of you treat white as if it is not a race. Again, show me some proof of that. Black people can be and many times ARE racist. By definition. Pick up a dictionary, use your phones or do whatever you have to do, but actually look it up and show me what part of the definition says that black people cannot be racist or that racism cannot happen to a white person.
Take your time. Then again, this part of my letter will be skimmed over as well.
I’ve also heard some blacks say that if a white person doesn’t stand up against racism, then they are “just as bad as the white people who are racist.” Fair enough, but again…can a white person say the same thing about us? In other words, “if a black person doesn’t stand up for what is wrong in the black community, then you are just as bad as those who commit crimes”? That should be acceptable also, correct?
Nope…not the same thing, right? How so?
White people should feel guilty because of what their ancestors did to us in terms of slavery. Well, there were white slaves, too, along with black slave masters. Not to mention, not every single black person alive back then was a slave, nor white person was a slave master. How many of you have done the research to know for certain whether or not YOUR specific ancestors were slaves? How about the white people you feel should have some guilt or to apologize in some way for what happened? How many of you have researched to know for sure that those specific white people had the ancestors who were slave masters?
I think I know the answer to that one. Very few to NONE of you have. Hell, many of you have phones attached to your hands 24 hours a day and can’t research something simple before posting it to social media. And I’m expecting you to research something deep.
Speaking of skimming over, black folks love to point out everything white people do wrong, yet skim over everything that’s wrong in our community. Afraid to talk about that stuff. Folks are “racist” because they point it out. Once again…look up the definition. I’ve seen so many white people be accused of racism just because they speak about what’s going on in our community and in many ways, in about the same manner as blacks speak ill about white people.
What’s the difference?
Way too many of you raise a ton of hell when a white person does something wrong, yet say little to nothing when it’s a fellow black person. (See “Black Lives Matter”). What that equates to opening your front door, letting blacks and whites in, a white person steals something and you’re ready to fight. In the meantime, two to three times as many black people steal and you say nothing. That’s exactly what happens in our community. Law enforcement does something to us once or twice and it’s time to riot and protest. In that time, HUNDREDS of us are killed, stolen from, or had some other crimes committed against us at the hands of other blacks and you’re hush-hush about that.
I know, I know, “But Robert, we protest that stuff too. The media just doesn’t cover it.” The hell with the media. Pull out your phones like you would for everything else. Stop blaming it on the media. You have the power to speak about it just as often as you would raise hell if a white cop did something to us. “Share” and “retweet” all that as well.
But you don’t, why? Because it simply doesn’t happen. Many are embarrassed about what happens in our community and that’s why little is said. A lot of you like to quote Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but you don’t have a clue as to what he was about. Otherwise, this kind of nonsense would not be supported or you surely wouldn’t keep quiet about how messy OUR house looks before we yap about a white person’s “house.”
I already know what this will be met with. Been there and done that, too.
I will be called “coon, sellout and Uncle Tom.” Yawn.
You’ll see that I married a white woman and you’ll claim I don’t have the right to speak about this because of that. Yawn.
Being married to a white woman, I couldn’t possibly have experienced any form of racism. Even though I got married at age 20, the fact that I married my wife then means that it is completely impossible that I dealt with racism at any point before that. Really?
I “hate my race” or myself. Zzzzzzz.
I’m “ashamed to be black.” Riiiiiight.
It’s always funny how, each time I say things like this, it is met with these tired, overused responses. Just once, I would LOVE for someone to say, “Robert, you are wrong and let me explain why with these specific examples.” I have no problem listening to that, because I can be wrong, too. But way too often, damn near 99% of the time, when any of you disagree, I’m called all this and that, my wife and children are put down (just because they aren’t black), which is the equivalent of a tantrum. That’s kid’s stuff.
Speaking of which, it’s funny how we all claim to want to move out of the hood, ghettos and projects, yet the minute a black person actually does so, they are put down in every way. I’ve listened to my family and some friends put my mother down many times for wanting to and eventually moving us out of Baltimore City. She wanted a better life for us, so she made it happen. I know how jealousy gets. It’s no big surprise. The same ones who use living in these neighborhoods as a “badge of honor” of some kind all know that deep down, that’s not where you want to be. It’s not difficult to remain in a place like that. There is no “bravery” or “toughness” to remain there. The bravery is when a person chooses to move away from that, especially knowing how our own community will respond to it, which is most of the time, extremely negative.
Along with that, way too many have said that my mother “acts white.” The same is said about me. If you haven’t noticed, I am a very intelligent individual. I speak this way because this is the person I am. I dress appropriately. My ass is covered up by my pants. I don’t use slang 24 hours a day. I don’t run the streets or sell drugs on the corners. There is a lot more that I could add, but the bottom line is this. If you are saying that a person like me is “acting white” because of those things, do you realize that speaks more toward your faith and confidence toward your own community? It sure as hell doesn’t bother me. It stopped bothering me a LONG time ago. But it is obviously viewed by much of the black community that anyone who goes against the norm of how black people are supposed to act is NOT actually just trying to be successful or do better for themselves because they have that faith and confidence in their own abilities, no…
…it’s because they are “trying to be white.”
So if I have this correct…our community is and should always remain a certain way because that’s just the way we are, and how dare and any black person go against that? That’s the same as if I called either of my two children foul names because they got good grades in school. The only reason I would do that is if I didn’t think they were smart enough to do so. The truth is that many of you in the black community have such little faith in yourself and your own abilities that when another black person comes along and doesn’t match that, rather than that telling you that yes, you CAN be better, you would just prefer to put them down because you don’t understand it, nor can you see it happening.
That is a problem.
I could go on and on. And seriously, don’t comment on how long this is. I know that trick, too. You read the entire thing, disagree, but have nothing intelligent to say or of substance to add, so you figure putting it down because of the length will make me feel bad. Well…I’m a writer. THIS IS WHAT I DO. I can’t be put down because of how long a blog post is. That’s like putting Mike Tyson down for boxing, putting Michael Jordan down for playing basketball, or putting Michael Jackson down for dancing.
It is either that, or you’ll claim you “didn’t read the whole thing.” Seen that also. Disagree and figure that you’ll “stick it to me” by saying you didn’t read it, but adding comments to show that yes…you have. Again, the length doesn’t bother me. That speaks more to YOUR inability to keep your focus on this. That is your problem, not mine. I’m not going to sell myself short just so someone else can keep up. None of you are children.
A lot of you will look at this and have everything bad to say. The biggest one is very likely that you think with me saying all this, that I believe white people cannot be racist, nor give us problems. Well if you remember correctly, I said in the very beginning of this that I’ve encountered MANY racist white people. So that shuts that down. But the truth is that many of the problems we face have very little to do with white people. They have to do with US.
You can deflect blame all you want. You can write all these “Dear White People” letters as much as your heart desires. You can put down people like me who aren’t afraid to speak up and clean OUR house before we tell everyone else how to clean theirs. You can blindly call everything “racism” because it’s easier for you and doesn’t require you to think. You can blame white people for all your shortcomings as much as you wish. You can call me “coon, sellout, Uncle Tom” as often as you please. You can say that I “hate myself and my race.” You can claim that I’m writing all this “just to get in good with white people.” You can claim that I am “a racist white person posing as a black man” if you’d like also. Yep…I’ve gotten that one, too.
And whatever else you may come up with. Feel free to do it all.
But just understand this. People aren’t stupid and not buying the bullshit anymore. I stopped buying it a long time ago. If I did half the things the black community expected me to do, I would be in prison or dead right now. So I’ll take being made fun of or put down. It means nothing to me anymore. That speaks more to your maturity than mine.
And stop getting mad because white people agree with me. They have a right to do so if they want. They are tired of being blamed for and held responsible for things they have absolutely NOTHING to do with. They are tired of being put down simply for being white. They are tired of being told that their lives are so much easier just because they are white. They are sick of the excuses from us. Damn right they are going to agree when someone, especially a black man, has the guts to speak up without fear of being raked over the coals for it. It is commendable, whether you feel it should be or not.
Very few black folks out there have the gumption to say all of what I’m saying right now. But we also have no problem being ourselves. That’s the difference also. See…we aren’t brainwashed. Many of you are. That’s the problem. Writing all this proves I have a mind of my own and don’t have to piggyback off a bunch of outdated and vague stereotypes to feel better about myself. Don’t need to. I’m actually confident in what I say.
Too much to read? Then move on. I don’t have a gun to your head. But if you want to write a letter to anyone, start with writing one to yourself. Take a good look in the mirror and fix all YOUR problems first. Stop claiming every issue you face is someone else’s fault, especially by blaming and entire race of people just because you’ve been brainwashed to do so. If others are able to control you like that, then you are seriously a very weak individual. Take control of your life and think for yourself.
You can say what you want about me. Like I said above, I will be 37 years old next month. I’ve stopped caring about the putdowns a long time ago, because I know exactly what they mean. It’s the same reasons as why my mother was put down for wanting to move us out of the inner city when so many others wanted to do the same. Many of you black folks wish you had the nerve to say all of what I’m saying here and the bottom line that you don’t. So rather than taking notes and at least attempting to face yourselves, you would rather do what many did with my mother and put me down for sharing these beliefs that you wish you had the strong minds to have for yourself.
As with anything else, you have the right to do what you wish. But again, you’re not fooling anyone but yourselves. All the excuses, all the putdowns, all the deflection makes no difference whatsoever.
When you look into a mirror, you can say anything and everything you want. But at the end of the day, what you see is what you get. And calling me everything in the book does not and will not change what YOU see in yourself.
Many of you don’t like what you see. Rather than fixing yourselves, you’d rather put the blame on everyone else. Well it’s like this. If you put control to fix YOUR life in the hands of all these random white people out there, it shouldn’t surprise you as to why you continue to look in the mirror and see that nothing has changed.
It’s like hiring a plumber to do electrical work in your house. It’s like hiring an exterminator to paint. Blaming white people for all your problems and then sitting back and wondering why things don’t seem shouldn’t surprise you. It is being afraid to face yourself in the mirror. It should be no shock as to why things don’t improve.
Yes, there are a lot of white folks out there who are bad. What are you going to do…sit there and pout? That’s not going to change anyone’s minds. You can either let them control you or you can rise above it. Putting them all in the same category, especially when we hate for people to do the same to us, won’t get it done.
We talk all the time about inequality and injustice at the hands of white people. That’s fine, but what about inequality and injustice with us and FROM us? Afraid to look at that, right? Don’t think that happens?
You can say all you want, but I’ll end with this. As much as you pretend that there is little wrong with our community (at least not enough to speak more truth about it), I can guarantee one thing. If you walk down the street of any of these neighborhoods and you see some kids on the corner, most of the time, you would walk the other way. If you’re brave enough to park a nice car anywhere, you will hit that lock button on your key a few extra times. Ladies, you’re going to clutch your purses a little tighter if you see someone coming.
You can say whatever you want to me or every white person out there but the bottom line is very simple…
Being afraid of or not liking what you see in the mirror doesn’t mean it isn’t there. No amount of “coon,” “Uncle Tom,” or “sellout” toward me or blame toward white people is going to change any of that.
The older you get, the larger that mirror becomes. I learned that a long time ago. Eventually, you will have no choice but to face it. The longer you avoid it, the less you will like what you see.
And neither I, nor other black people who share my sentiments or white people will be there to save you.