Your White Guilt Is Taking a Toll on Your Black Friends

You can’t fundraise away years of indifference

Marcus K. Dowling


Protestors in New York City on June 4, 2020. Photo: Scott Heins/Getty Images

On the morning of May 29, 2020, I sat, freshly awake in my queen-sized bed as a king-sized headache throbbed between my temples and into my eye sockets. It was a Friday, ostensibly the end of the week, but it was the beginning of a very different kind of week — a seven-day stretch during which America and its stated ideals once again burned into a smoldering heap of ember.

I woke up to Minneapolis on fire due to protests sparked in response to the death of George Floyd. I saw the images of a Minneapolis police station in flames, and I watched an Afro-Latinx CNN reporter get arrested on live television. Witnessing America burn instead of granting me civil rights under equal law is old hat. But ultimately, because of social media’s newfound pervasive influence around the globe, my White friends were now caught up in the orange afterglow for the first time.

Six inches away from my head that morning, my phone wouldn’t stop beeping, ringing, and buzzing. Aggravated, I picked it up, mimicked throwing it out of my bedroom window, then groggily started scrolling. I spent 10 minutes reading through my text messages, newspaper app, and email alerts, and then I reached my social media messages, mostly from confused White people: