I’m a brown girl who has been living in a predominantly white area for the past eight years. As a result, I mainly had white friends growing up. When I first started to become interested in social justice issues a couple years ago, I didn’t realize my white friends were part of the problem until recently.
Other friends of color have told me about their experiences with white people and how they could be problematic but I always thought my friends were an exception. The past few days I’ve been reflecting on my encounters with white people and I finally realize how many microaggressions I’ve felt that I never shared because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings and make our relationship awkward. I now know how mistaken I was.
For example, a friend of mine – for anonymity’s sake, we’ll call her Becky – claims to be an open-minded liberal yet perpetuates stereotypes about brown people such as being late, parents wanting their children to attend Ivy League schools and more. Additionally, Becky has made fun of a South Asian accent on numerous occasions and talks about racial issues as if it’s her place to do so, stating that East Asians are too politically neutral. All of these things have made me so angry inside but I would always nod and force a smile in agreement, pushing my real feelings inside to save our friendship.
Yesterday, after I stated that there is no second coming of Christ and that climate change is the issue at hand, Becky thought that I was being religiously intolerant against Christians to which I simply responded, “Okay, whatever you say.” She certainly has no problem confronting other people on things she disagrees with, so why is it so hard for me to do the same?
I desperately want to tell everyone my real opinions, not walking on eggshells to protect feelings, not beating around the bush and not feeling guilty for stating the truth.
I’m so afraid of judgment and ridicule that I am willing to compromise my own beliefs in order to ease white guilt and tears. White people always play the victim and act sorry, which isn’t good enough for me anymore. Although I can’t change myself overnight, I will work towards calling out racist remarks, no matter how little, because if I don’t speak out when people are spewing racist statements – whether they are aware of it or not – then race relations will continue to be ignored, and I will continue to be part of the problem.
Source: Zeyna Iman Shop