Your White Guilt Is Taking a Toll on Your Black Friends
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:
“I made this ‘how to help Black people’ post? Does it look good? Is it offensive?”
“I donated to the Minnesota bailout. I’m an ally!”
“I’m not posting anything until I see justice served!”
“Colin Kaepernick was right, man. He was. I’m sorry, brother.”
Fifteen minutes after scrolling through my confused timelines, another friend — a Black man — private-messaged me:
“You good? What are we doing? LOL.”
“I don’t know, man. But do you see these White people? They’re wild as hell.”
“Yeah, man. It’s a lot.”
By now, most Black Americans have seen their White friends’ “too much, too little, too late” brand of activism pervading social media and even private conversations. Now, so much is so wrong.
Black people have been this mad for 400 years. You have been this mad for a month.
White people trying to process the Black Lives Matter movement have turned George Floyd’s death in Minnesota into a herd mentality approach to absolving White guilt. In doing so, they’re transported decades of that guilt into America’s rekindled civil unrest.
There’s a difference between anger over police brutality and desensitized, performative activism. Add in 80 days of obsessively monitoring social media during the Covid-19 quarantine, and Black people have withstood a three-month siege of tone-deaf tweets and “we stand with you” Instagram posts.
Black people nationwide, feel free to post this disclaimer:
Dear White people. We get it. You’re mad. However, your new level of indignation is no equal to our anger. Black people have been this mad for 400 years. You have been this mad for a month. Posting 99.9% more times on Instagram about how you’re handling your sudden wokeness to Black anger does not overcompensate for a lifetime of relative inaction. No fund exists that can fundraise away your guilt. In the end, if you hit the streets and violently burn and loot America as we did in 1968 and 1992, Trump certainly has a violent answer in return.
Sadly, we’re too far past the point of disclaimers now. Through Twitter fingers and Facebook posts, we understand that White people are trying to grapple with Black anger. But this only resulted in Black Lives Matter being conflated with White guilt.
We need you to put down the smartphone and process your guilt. Only then will you be able to truly “stand with Black people” and forge real change.