It is a new year. Many of us are looking for a fresh start in different areas of our lives. One area that we can make a clean sweep is in the words we say.
White people, here is a partial list of what to stop saying in 2015:
Thug - This is a term that is typically used to talk about Black men and to vilify them so as to appease one's conscience about their unnecessary death or to show that they are not as worthy of respect or consideration as other people. (Read more HERE.)
Reverse Racism - It does not exist. Individuals can discriminate against one another on any basis, but racism as a system favors White people and disadvantages people of color. A White person in a predominantly White country cannot be the recipient of racism. (Read more HERE and watch a comedic video HERE.)
I don't care if he is black, white, green or yellow with polka dots. - Comparing real people to alien people (fake skin colors) is disrespectful. You are trying to make the point that you do not care what color the person is, but you go overboard and throw in colors of skin that do not exist. (Read more HERE.)
It doesn't matter what your skin color, if people wouldn't break the law they wouldn't have to worry about the police. - This is simply false. Skin color has a lot to do with how people perceive each other and police officers are not immune. There are several well known cases in which people of color were not breaking the law in any way and were minding their own business yet they were harassed, brutalized or killed by police. For doing nothing wrong. At all.
The police didn't TRY to kill him. - But did they try NOT to kill him? The person is still dead no matter the police officers' intent. (Read more HERE.)
It's not about race. - White people are incredibly oblivious to how many things really are about race. If someone else is telling you that it is about race, it is best to listen and learn. It probably is about race.
Race card - This is a term that White people pull out to dismiss the true, real, lived experiences of people of color. It is not OK. When someone says that something is about race please do not tell them they are "playing the race card". Just because you do not understand how race impacts the situation does not mean that race is not part of the situation.
Race baiting - Talking about a real problem that affects many people in our country is not "race baiting". This is another dismissive term used by White people to avoid talking about race issues.
It (racism) isn't as bad as it used to be. - So what is your point? Whether racism is as bad as it used to be or not is irrelevant. People are being discriminated against and disadvantaged and even killed because of implicit bias and systemic racism. That is not good. Whether it is better than it used to be does not matter one bit. (Read more HERE.)
But look at Bill Cosby and Oprah! They are rich and famous. - Again, what is your point? There are some Black people who are rich and famous. There were Black people during the time of slavery and Jim Crow laws who were rich and famous. Having some Black people who are rich and famous does not change the reality for the vast majority of Black people.
I blame the parents and the breakdown of the family. - You can blame whatever you want, but until you spend time in the Black community and understand their particular challenges and what they face daily as Black people, you really have no idea what you are talking about.
If they would just be more respectful of authority they wouldn't be killed. - Why are White people allowed to disrespect police officers, even shoot at them, and still remain alive? Why have Black men and boys been shot by police within seconds of the police arriving? Before they had a chance to respect or disrespect authority?
All lives matter - Of course all lives matter. Everyone believes that. But we act as if only White lives are sacred and others are expendable. Especially Black lives. We treat Black lives as if they do not matter. So we have to remind the world that Black Lives Matter. Until Black lives are treated as if they matter as much as White lives, we have to remind the world that Black Lives Matter. (Read more HERE.)
But not all cops are bad! - No one said they were all bad. There is a culture among cops that enables bad cops to continue unchecked and without adequate consequences. Instead of "good" cops standing up and refusing to be associated with the bad cops, they cover for the bad ones or keep quiet. Police officers have implicit biases against Black people just as much as the rest of society. The difference is that they carry guns for a living and have more opportunities to kill Black people as a result of their implicit bias. (Read more HERE.)
What about Black-on-Black crime? - Why not ask, What about White-on-White crime? This is a question that is asked to deflect the conversation from focusing on police officers killing Black people. It has nothing to do with the conversation at hand but is used to derail the important conversation that should be had about police brutality and killing of Black people. (Read more HERE.)
I don't mean to sound racist, but... - If you have to start your sentence in that way, just keep quiet. You know your racism is going to come out but you insist on saying what you are thinking anyway.
Why do you always have to make everything about race? - Why do you always have to ignore race? It is a real and valid part of life. Ignoring it does not make anything better.
You are just causing division. - Pointing out the racial divide in our country is not causing a racial divide. Talking about an existing problem does not cause that problem. If you are only aware of the racial divide because people are talking about it openly now, then that is because you have been sheltered. It is nothing new. Get in the conversation and help us solve the problem. Do not put your head in the sand and pretend it is an imaginary problem that those of us who are talking about it made up.
White people are tired of being called racists! - People of color are tired of racism! This phrase is something that White people say when they do not want to critically examine their own implicit biases and feelings about people of color. (Read more HERE.)
I can't be racist. I have a Black friend. - Having a Black friend or people in your family who are of color does not make you immune to having implicit bias against people of color or erase all racist thoughts and actions. Having a person of color as your friend or family member does not prove that you are not racist. Your actions and what you say will indicate your biases and prejudices or lack thereof. (Read more HERE.)
I don't see skin color. We're all human. - Maybe you need your eyes checked. There are many wonderful skin colors and shades of skin to be celebrated and enjoyed. If you cannot, or will not, see the beautiful colors of skin, then you are missing out. But what you are really saying when you say this is, "As a White person, race doesn't matter to me." And the truth is, as a White person, race probably does not matter to you. But that does not mean that it does not matter to other people. People of color do not have the luxury to ignore race. They are perceived in particular ways every day because of their race. Being "colorblind" is a White privilege and is a form of racism. It is a convenient way to dismiss the reality of racism and, by doing so, allow it to perpetuate itself. (Read more HERE.)
This is only a partial list, but let's start with these, OK? Just stop saying these things so that we can all have a better year!