attention white friends…this is what i need from y’all: take down the defense system as it relates to conversations around race with black people. i understand when we talk about race in america it indicts whites as the perpetrators due to our unfortunate history in this country. so you’d just rather not talk about it as a white person. i get it, i get it. but we MUST talk about it to get past it. but not whites talking to whites or blacks to blacks or latinos to latinos…they’ve got to be interracial conversations.
today a very close white friend whom i adore made a comment about a black boys hair as being “nappy.” it was undone, not nappy, and i know that is what s/he meant because i know their heart. but i told them to be careful about the words they use to describe different groups of people, and that nappy isn’t the word you want to use as a white person when speaking about black peoples hair. the conversation that followed was an uncomfortable and defensive one for this person, and i know it’s because s/he felt like i was attacking them. i wasn’t. i was simply educating a white person, about a black persons reality, so that s/he didn’t feel comfortable to use the same word in that context in the future. s/he went on to say that black people use the word nappy all the time toward each other and it’s okay, and i said black people also use the word nigga toward each other and it’s okay but you are not black and cannot/should not use either when talking about blacks. to be fair, how was s/he to know that it’s inappropriate to use the word nappy in that context, as a white person? answer: by being willing to have interracial conversations about race, that’s how. i might have ruffled a few feathers but s/he will thank me in the long run.
as for the rest of america, whether white or black or green, please don’t shy away from the opportunity to write new history about race in america, by actively seeking clarity and understanding about realities not of your own. being on the attack, or on the defensive is not the answer. let your guard down for a changing of the guard in race relations in america.