By Ta-ning Connai
If paying bills and having food in my fridge weren’t such a priority, I would spend my days watching videos of warm belly puppies and chubby babies that make my heart explode. Recently, I came across a video of a cute little girl eating. But when that beat kicked in, her bowl hit the floor and dance moves from The Motherland bounced off her teeny body! It was the cutest thing ever!
So, I go to the comment section and brothers and sisters are chiming in with joy times 10! Everyone felt uplifted, inspired, excited, moved and filled with great pride in the fact that she was representing her beloved Africa and had not experienced the separation from her culture like so many African-American children (and adults) do. We all took her on as our own black girl magic. Then straight outta nowhere, “white fragility” shows up and a moment of celebration turns into a heated debate.
White lady: When I see this little girl, all I see is a beautiful baby dancing. I see no color and it saddens me that so many people do. I find these comments very discriminating. We are all God’s children and racism will never end until we become colorblind.”
Me: “Most comments that reference color is because so many black people have been stripped of their heritage. So when we see a child, a beautiful African black child, expressing her culture freely, we want to celebrate it and make mention of it.”
White Lady: “But you are dividing us when you mention color. God doesn’t see color.”
Me: “So sad that you don’t see color, but when you go further by putting that on God you are ignoring His masterful creativity. We learn to love and appreciate each other when we acknowledge the differences that make us all special, NOT by trying to blend everyone together.
Do you prefer we all be the same and conform to your standard of regularity? You don’t really care to embrace those that are different than you UNLESS they lay down those differences. This is not a competition (don’t know why you said that!), but you can either celebrate with us or go home. This little girl is not just a child, she is not just a beautiful child, she is a black African child. Don’t strip away all that she is. You have a culture that you hold dear, so let us have those very rare moments to do the same. Thanks.”
Another White Lady: “Why are you all so full of hatred? Why can’t you see love? I give up. I try to be a good person and love everybody but comments like these divide us all.”
Me: “You are experiencing white fragility; you take great offense to anything that doesn’t include YOU. And instead of you all LISTENING to us, you bring the conversation back to yourselves and how “holier than thou” you are for being color blind. You all spend your entire lifespan watching your own race grapple at superiority and you have nothing to say about it. We are denied jobs, mocked in the media, killed by police, underrepresented in film, TV, beauty, education and politics, all the while none of you “colorblind” people are bothered by the inequality.
We watch our culture get misappropriated, white girls making millions off of features that used to be considered undesirable, white superheroes (until black panther), black r&b singers have been replaced by Adele, Bieber, Ariana Grande and Sam Smith, and yet we are the ones demanded to become colorblind?
This went on and on and to my dismay, not one white person seemed to understand. I am happy to say that there is at least one white man (although I’m sure there are others) that fully understands the dangers of white fragility. Tim Wise is a long-time civil rights activist that describes “colorblind” as a way to shift blame and responsibility onto victims rather than confront or acknowledge the racist himself.
Instead of beating us over the head with slogans like “all lives matter,” “we need more love not hate,” “let’s talk about what brings us together, not what tears us apart,” white folks ought to make sure that black lives DO matter, that there’s a demonstration of MORE love than hate and that the things that tear us apart get CONFRONTED so that MAYBE we can then come together. In 1 Corinthians 9:20-22, Paul said he “became” like the people around him. In essence, he was saying he walked in their shoes. Oh how I pray that people will do that for us. Until then, our self-pride will forever be misunderstood.
How often do you encounter white fragility?