This is originally from an entry on my Medium blog
If you’ve encountered the “Woke” section of social media, at any point in time, you’ve likely come across a meme like this:
On the surface, the intentions of this meme are noble and good. A lot of us Black people who are on an advocate, activist and/or revolutionary tip also have to reconcile that identity with the white friends that we have in our lives (many of whom were likely there before the Pro-Black bug bit us). We sometimes find ourselves walking the line of being real and honest about race issues, while also not attacking our melanin-deficient friends, in the process. I totally get that, and for a long time, subscribed to this mindset.
…but I think it’s time to admit that the saying, “Pro-Black isn’t Anti-White” is complete and utter bullshit, for at least a few reasons:
1) It just feeds into the widespread, but ultimately false (and in some ways toxic), narrative that race is tied to the individual, rather than the overall system. Race is nothing more than a social construct that really is inconsequential on an individual level. Where race becomes consequential is the systems that have been built and sustained to categorize us and then have us be treated differently — this is essential to colonialism, imperialism, and everyday oppression that people of color face, all over the world. In the “post-racial era,” we’ve reduce racism to an individual level instead of focusing it on a systemic level, which is backwards.
Therefore, attacks on whiteness are generally attacks on the overall system of white supremacy. Even criticisms of racial discrimination on a personal level (i.e. The infamous — and wonderful — #TweetLikeAWhiteGay hashtag) are ultimately social commentary that reflect the overall system. Criticisms of racism are generally not even really about white people as individuals. After all, bigotry that comes from white individuals would have no power if overall systems weren’t supporting it — like how prejudice exhibited by POC towards white people, while wrong, ultimately has no real power because there’s no system supporting it. In fact, it could easily be argued that bigotry wouldn’t be so rampant, if not for the system of white supremacy creating the environment, in the first place.
2) It’s really just another form of respectability politics…it’s meant to coddle fragile white feelings and it prioritizes whiteness over the legitimate anger and frustration of Black people. It puts white supremacy at the center of what should be all about self-empowerment and improving the lives of Black people. Not to mention, it just enables a lot of these fake “White All-lies” to happily and quickly absolve themselves of any need to self-examine and think about how they might be contributing to racist systems, themselves — intentionally or not.
3) Not only is it coddling, it’s intellectually dishonest. Pro-Blackness takes multiple forms (some want equality, others want total liberation, etc.), butany Pro-Black work and advocacy is essentially aiming to tear away at, if not totally dismantle, white supremacy…in a country that was literally BUILT on, and is sustained by, that system. Doing away with white supremacy, in any capacity, creates a more fair and equal society, which directly affects white privilege. Reduction or loss of white privilege would be a net loss for (y)our white comrades. So, you can’t have it both ways by saying that Pro-Black isn’t Anti-White…it’s either one or the other. The two are VERY much mutually exclusive, whether we wanna admit it it or not.
Let it be known that I don’t hate individuals who happen to be white, but I very much hate whiteness and white supremacy as a system, and while I haven’t fully figured out where I personally stand, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be heartbroken over seeing it completely destroyed. Sometimes, the system is gonna cross paths with the individual and people will feel attacked because of it. While the feelings of the white people in our lives do matter and are worth considering, they can’t continue to take precedence over the realities of race in this country being spoken honestly and loudly. We’ve been coddling white supremacy and trying to play nice with it for far too long and I personally have no interest in feeding into that any longer.
Pro-Black IS Anti-White. I honestly have no problem with that, and you shouldn’t either.