1. I picked myself up by my bootstraps. My family was poor too.
Not all bootstraps are alike. Some people don’t have boots or straps because they were taken away or never given. No matter how dire your past circumstances... if you’re not Black, you and your family could always say “at least we’re not Black”.
2. Black people just don’t try hard enough.
3. Black people need to stop whining.
An “ouch” is not whining. A complaint is not whining. A scream is not whining. An uprising is not whining. For a White person to say, “Black people need to stop whining” is an indication that they are not listening.
4. Get a job!
You want fries with that?
5. I was a victim of reverse racism.
No, you weren’t. Organizations hire, admit, fire, and dismiss people for a multitude of reasons. For many years Black people weren’t hired or admitted because they are Black. Organizations may bring young people on for on the job training. They may wish to increase diversity because they think that is important. They don’t owe you a job or a place in a school because you are White any more than they do a Black person.
6. The Republicans were the party of Lincoln.
7. Black on Black crime (including murders) is a problem no one seems to be up in arms about. So many people die in Chicago. Where’s the outrage about that?
Do you get news feeds from Chicago? I don’t. Crime in any large city is a terrible thing. Police are supposed to serve and protect us all. Outrage is most likely to occur when a White police officer kills a Black citizen. Usually the outrage occurs because the killing is unwarranted. Such statements serve as a diversion from discussions of police brutality and poverty.
8. All lives matter.
Of course they do. Not all lives are equally at risk. The statement is a criticism of “Black Lives Matter” because it seeks to deflect, dismiss, ignore, and deny the clear risk Black people face.
9. Why should I be responsible for something my ancestors did?
You’re not... unless you’re doing the same terrible things they did. You are responsible for your own actions.
10. Blacks make up only 13% of our population but they account for 57% of all crimes. Why is that?
The way you answer that question is a litmus test for racism.
11. I’m not racist. I have Black friends.
Having Black friends is no indication that you aren’t a racist. Look at Trump. He has “my African American over here” too.
12. Rioting and looting is not the right way to express yourself.
A riot is a violent disturbance of the peace by a crowd. The operative word here is “violent”... which can mean physical force intended to hurt, or a very strong or emotional outburst. Take your pick to accurately describe the situation. If a riot without intent for physical harm is the consequence of an injustice (or continued insult) it can be a legitimate way to express a grievance. Looting is rarely justifiable.
13. There are legitimate Black leaders and fake Black leaders.
You don’t get to decide.
14. I don’t see color.
Yes, of course you do. Don’t be silly. When a Black person hears that it gets internalized as “you don’t see me”. That means you dismiss the real-world issues of racism that person experiences.
15. There is no such thing as systematic or institutionalized racism.
Only people who benefit from systematic/institutionalized racism utter that phrase. It is a destructive rhetorical weapon used to discredit, marginalize, and obliterate the lived experiences of Black people. It is used as an attempt to erase historical fact and reduce the evils of slavery, bigotry, and racism, and their effects, into a salve for the cognitive dissonant swamp such people inhabit.
16. But Black people sold other Blacks into slavery.
So, does that mean it is okay for White people to further oppress Black people? Black slavery of other Blacks is a painful legacy for the people of Africa. It is a subject they view seriously as a matter of historic guilt and responsibility. Would that White Americans emulate Africans in this regard. They are way ahead of us in terms of such things as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.
17. Affirmative action doesn’t work.
Affirmative action works well for Black people. Redlining, institutionalized and systematic racism, wealth gaps, unequal treatment in health care, employment impediments, housing discrimination and other practices directed towards Black people do not counterbalance the moderate attempts of Affirmative Action policies. Affirmative action is an attempt to redress some of those harmful legacies of our past that persist to the present day.
18. I am a self-made person.
No, you are not. No one is. You may be self-sufficing or self-sufficient, but you are not self-made. Certainly as regards to race relations, that phrase uttered by a White person to a Black person is internalized as “I disingenuously discount the role of White supremacy in my challenging, but privileged life.”
19. We live in a color-blind country.
No, we absolutely do not live in a color-blind country. Just uttering that phrase reveals that you are 1) clueless about issues of race that effect us all, 2) you don’t care to educate yourself about what you are ignorant about or, 3 ) you are a liar.
20. Why do I have to give up what I’ve worked so hard for?
No one wants you to give anything up that is not yours. Black people are not asking you to “give” us anything. We demand the same opportunities and privileges you enjoy, as is our right as citizens. We can take it from there.
by Clovice A. Lewis, Jr.
About this blog.
This blog is a place where many of the confluences of my life can be shared. I am, at the core, a creative person. I approach everything from that basis... whether composing symphonies, playing the cello, being a serial entrepreneur, writing sermons and essays, flying airplanes, or creating software apps. I am deeply passionate about creativity, issues of social justice, and spiritual enrichment. These are fundamental to everything I do. Welcome to my journey!