None of you know how to treat women of color like actual human beings so this post is going to go utterly nowhere but anyway. Here’s some things that I’d like to lay out.
- Women of color’s experiences are not life lessons or stories or entertainment for everyone else. Our pain, our suffering, and even our daily lives are not academic presentations for you to learn from. Women of color can be teachers and mentors, but us merely existing and talking about the things we love, the things we laugh at, the things we enjoy, and the things that make us angry, are not opportunities for you to boast about how “good” you are, to thank us for “teaching” you something you didn’t already know before, or a chance for you to guilt-trip us with self-victimizing emotional blackmail (i.e. “oh my god, white people suck/oh my god i’m so sorry that we white women are so terrible”). You may not even realize that you’re replicating white fragility and white anxiety, but that’s exactly what you’re doing! And when you do that, you dehumanize us, you strip us of our autonomy, and you make us look and feel like aggressive and violent monsters.
- Of course there are certain posts that women of color write that get traction because they’re enlightening or relatable or offer valuable insight for everyone. And that’s absolutely fine. Look, if someone writes a sincere and heartfelt post about something you’ve personally never experienced or witnessed, and you learn and grow from it, that’s a good thing. But that doesn’t mean that everything a woman of color does is specifically geared toward educating white people or men! Treating our lives as if they are constructed around spite and bitterness is so depressing. And again, it’s dehumanizing. As if we cannot live, and write, and think, and breathe, and love, without our actions just innately being tied to how they measure up in white people’s eyes. We already deal with that - the ubiquitous, unrelenting gaze of white supremacy. So please stop acting as if taking everything a woman of color says or does as a “teachable moment” or an “activist moment” is progressive. It’s not. It places unfair burdens on us.
- If a woman of color is clearly talking about something with other women of color and laughing at a certain aspect of, say, whiteness or male entitlement, that’s absolutely not an invitation for white people to barge in on the post with performative tags or comments. It’s invasive as hell. It goes back to what I said in the first point, which is that you’re treating our literal lives as if they’re classroom education lessons. You look at a post like that and clearly grimace or feel guilty. And hey again, if a post makes you self-reflect and critically think about something you previously didn’t acknowledge, that is a good thing, but you can engage in that self-reflection without pomp and circumstance and without making it about yourself. Because that’s exactly what happens when you reblog a random post a woman of color writes about herself & other women of color (a post in which she’s clearly commiserating with other women of color over something you as a white person cannot relate to). You’re making it about YOUR guilt or YOUR “activism” credentials. And that ties into the second point: treating every facet of a woman of color’s life as if it can only be measured by the worth it presents to white people.
- There will be posts that women of color write that are specifically targeted toward men or white people. That is absolutely when you should be adding tags like “reminders” or directly engaging in learning and self-reflection. This post itself is clearly directed toward white people, in which case it would be fine for white people to reblog and learn from, whereas a post that I write about laughing at how hypocritical white women are is not an invitation for white women to tag it as “I’ll keep this in mind” or “I hope I don’t do this”.
- And on that note, if you as a white person say “I’ve never done this but yikes”, you are fucking lying to yourself and to me. The reason you don’t think you’ve “ever done this” is because you’re surrounded by the glory of the privilege you receive under white supremacy. You’re embedded in whiteness. You can’t see around your own whiteness. It takes work to objectively deconstruct your own whiteness, and that definitely won’t occur if you look at a post about racism and say “well /I’ve/ never done this because /I’m/ one of the good ones”. You’ve definitely done it, and you’ll do it again, because that’s the nature of whiteness.
Stop treating us like your educators and doormats. Stop talking to us as if we’re monsters and ogres. Please. I beg you.