Here’s a piece that went live today, which I hope shines a bright light on the inherent disparities in Facebook’s community standards.
I don’t see color when I look at you.
There’s only one race, and that’s the human race.
We’re all the same.
At one point or another, we have all heard these and other similar declarations from non-melanated people who want to be perceived as bias-free.
Colorblindness is a social norm that white people use in an attempt to “prove” to themselves and others that they are not racist. The problem with colorblindness is that it minimizes differences and devalues people of color by essentially saying, I refuse to acknowledge and value your unique qualities. Consequently, colorblindness has the opposite effect, because it avoids critical consciousness, dims individual perceptions, perpetuates delusions, diminishes empathy, and strains interpersonal relations.
Why is it so difficult for non-melanated people to acknowledge racism and talk about race? I’d love to hear from you.
If you think that Facebook is a platform to enlighten, educate and empower all of humanity, think again. Facebook (hereinafter referred to as “Racebook”) has a major problem with intelligent black voices. If you have been following me on social media, you are well aware that I’m on a seven-day ban—my third in less than three weeks, immediately following 24- and 72-hour bans for speaking out against white supremacy.
For those unfamiliar with Racebook’s ban, I am unable to edit my profile or like, post content, or comment on other posts. I am, however, able to access my account, read posts, accept friend requests, and see/respond to those pesky ads (as if I would consider helping Racebook generate revenue even as they’re trying to silence my voice).
While confined in Racebook jail, I’m taking time to reflect on the thing that landed me here: renouncing white supremacy. The fact that Racebook has gone to great lengths to silence my and other intelligent black voices is a classic case study about what happens when the hegemony feels the least bit discomfited or threatened by any truth-telling about racism.
WHAT DO I MEAN BY RACISM?
My use of the term racism refers not only to the prejudices and discriminatory actions of white racists, but also to the institutional discrimination and the recurring ways that white people—consciously and unconsciously—dominate Blacks in virtually every major aspect of our society. Racism is often viewed as a flaw in individual personalities, but racism transcends personal attitude. It is deeply embedded in, maintained and enforced by our legal, educational, political, economical, religious, cultural and military institutions. Racism is an institutionalized configuration of personal attitudes. It manifests itself everywhere we turn, so virtually any encounter that black people have with whites in our social institutions and public spaces can prompt a confrontation with racism.
Racism is more than a Black-White dichotomy. It reflects the original binary of the U.S.—the need to define, through a process of elimination, who is white and who is non-white. This racialization assigns individuals to a specific category and then assigns social meaning to that category in ways that shape individual, cultural and institutional identity. This meaning is built into our social processes and expressed in daily lived experiences. Today, the racist ideology (white supremacy) that originated during slavery is deeply woven into the fabric of our capitalistic society and used to divide races by category: superior and inferior. Racism is very much alive in our contemporary structures and institutions, intertwined with systems of oppression, and devastating to people of color.
ON WHITE FRAGILITY
White fragility is one helluva drug. White people will defend, argue, pout, cry, excuse, diminish, contradict, ignore, withdraw, and use other malicious and counter-productive behaviors to assert their pseudo-supremacy and regain their balance. Allow me to use as a prime example, white “allies” (those professing to fight for justice and equality for marginalized communities). These so-called allies (or more appropriately, all-lies) will gleefully roll with you until you call them out over some misstep or say something provocative that strikes them at their core and knocks them off balance. Rather than directly address the issue with you, they immediately default to passive-aggressive behaviors, engaging indirect hostilities in an effort to control or shut you down.
What white people fail to understand is that we black people know you better than you know yourselves. This is because we have had to diligently study your temperament and every move in order to survive. What we have discovered is that white people are very predictable and have extremely low thresholds for dealing with any pain and discomfort arising from discussions on race.
White people are not only notorious for not wanting to talk about race they are also notorious for trying to tone police black voices whenever we choose to broach the subject. They feel an overwhelming need to control not only our narrative, but how we articulate our narrative. Not once do they stop to consider that they have never treaded lightly when disrespecting black people and other people of color. Instead, they have forcefully taken whatever they wanted from whomever they wanted whenever they wanted. Thus, their demand for “civil communication” is in itself a hallmark of white privilege. And one of white people’s greatest fears is losing this unearned privilege and being treated exactly like they have systematically treated people of color.
Racebook has proven time and again that they absolutely cannot bear witness to the truth about racism in this country. Yet, their attempt to censor me for speaking truth about the oppression and injustices that the Black community has endured for centuries neither annihilates nor diminishes that truth.
It is not Racebook that sustains me. Consequently, it is not Racebook that will dictate my messages or how I deliver them. With or without the use of their social media platform, my message of truth about racial disparities will continue to emanate, enlighten, educate and empower those who daily suffer oppression and social indignities because of the color of their skin.
When you dismiss my humanity, you dismiss your own.
When you disrespect my humanity, you disrespect your own.
When you devalue my humanity, you devalue your own.
Yours in the Struggle,
I’ve just launched my Twitter campaign against Facebook’s systematic attempts to shut down the voices of black activists. Hope you’ll join me using this hashtag: #RacebookSoWhite.
It’s a sad country that we live in where freedom of speech has so rapidly diminished — especially when it relates to racial justice and equality. Yesterday, I caught a 7-day Facebook ban for posting the following:
Dear White People:
The terminology that we use to define a problem determines how we attempt to solve it. You are so accustomed to defining racism as people of color being the problem that you want to fix us, patronize us, save us and heal us. You rarely perceive yourselves as the problem (which is where the root of the problem lies). Thus, your interventions are most often ill-informed, misdirected and yield no meaningful or sustainable results.
At some point, you must come to terms with your ancestral role in creating the very concept of racism. You must also examine the many ways in which you wield power and unearned privilege to perpetuate it. If you’re brutally honest with yourselves, you will take ownership (just as you have taken and continue to take everything else) and devise intelligent ways to solve this messy social problem once and for all. HINT: You will achieve this feat ONLY by looking within.
The question that I ask white people each time I receive a Facebook ban (this is my third) is this: WHERE IS THE LIE? If you would pause long enough to face the butt-naked truth, you would cease reacting, get still, acknowledge and confront that fragile demon that has you psychologically bound and generationally cursed.
The first thing that most white people tend to do when you see my Dear White People salutation is immediately draw on your responsibility-deflecting defense mechanism known as white fragility. Yet, if you were intelligent at all, you would understand that my salutation speaks to white supremacy as a system, and every white person is born and socialized into this system… not to mention that exercising your fragility merely perpetuates white supremacist ideologies.
It frustrates, but doesn’t surprise me that most white people are so hell-bent on suppressing the truth about your role in racial injustice and inequality. Rather than self-examine, you cowardly take the path of least resistance by getting all wrapped up in your feelings and lashing out in passive-aggressive ways in attempts to destroy the messenger. However, what you do not know is that being a black woman, I have survived much worse. Each time you engage all manner of deception to try and reduce me to ashes for speaking truth that you would prefer not to hear and address, know this: like the Phoenix, I WILL RISE AGAIN.
The author of this piece is Scott Woods (a white male), although I do not know him. I’m sharing his words here, because they’re resonating deeply with me tonight. I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.
“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you.
“Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.”
WE ARE STILL HERE
by Mary A. Canty Merrill, PhD
(excerpted from my anthology: Why Black Lives Matter (Too): A Revolutionary Call to Action)
Black people have been through many traumatic experiences. Our hearts have been cut deeply. Our minds have been twisted. Our bodies have been abused. Yet, despite all that we have been through, and though we may be weary at times, we are still here.
We were kidnapped from our native land—Mother Africa, yet we are still here.
We were shackled in chains, and crammed into the bowels of ships headed for the New World, yet we are still here.
We were forced to sail for weeks, months—and sometimes a year—amid inhumane and diseased conditions, yet we are still here.
We were torn from our families and loved ones, yet we are still here.
We were sold into slavery as property, yet we are still here.
We were raped and sexually abused by slaveholders, yet we are still here.
We were hung and brutally whipped, yet we are still here.
We were branded and mutilated, yet we are still here.
We were hunted down like wild animals, yet we are still here.
We were imprisoned for minor infractions—or no infractions at all—without legal defense or recourse, yet we are still here.
We were spat on, tormented and insulted, yet we are still here.
We were forced into hard labor from sunup to sundown, yet we are still here.
We were devalued as human beings, yet we are still here.
We were used as prizes in lotteries, yet we are still here.
We were used as wagers in card games and horse races, yet we are still here.
We were allotted the bare minimum of food, yet we are still here.
We were given the cast-off clothing of whites, yet we are still here.
We were abused and exploited through medical experimentation, yet we are still here.
We were provided no care for our health, yet we are still here.
We were placed in situations that jeopardized our well-being, yet we are still here.
We were forbidden to buy or sell goods without a permit, yet we are still here.
We were forbidden to own livestock, yet we are still here.
We were subject to nightly curfews, yet we are still here.
We were forced to live in meager shelter with leaky roofs, thin walls and dirt floors, yet we are still here.
We were forbidden to read and write, yet we are still here.
We were forbidden to marry outside of our race, and sometimes forbidden to marry at all, yet we are still here.
We were coerced into nursing white babies, yet we are still here.
We were treated harshly by cruel overseers and made an example to others, yet we are still here.
We were stripped of our freedom, yet we are still here.
We were in physical bondage for 300 years, yet we are still here.
We were subjected to a hard, miserable life that is now difficult to imagine, yet we are still here.
We possessed nothing except our dignity, yet we are still here.
We were forced into segregation, yet we are still here.
We were bitten by vicious dogs, attacked with tear gas and sprayed with fire hoses, yet we are still here.
We were searched at any time and for any reason, yet we are still here.
We were sharecroppers who were cheated and denied land ownership, yet we are still here.
We were robbed of our heritage, history and resources, yet we are still here.
We were denied our constitutional rights, yet we are still here.
We are subject to racial profiling, yet we are still here.
We have been forced into mass incarceration, yet we are still here.
We are still considered an inferior race, yet we are still here.
We have endured modern day genocide, yet we are still here.
We built this country called America with our blood, sweat, and tears, yet we are still here.
We have endured hundreds of years of racism, discrimination and oppression, yet despite everything that we have been through, we are still here.
WE ARE A STRONG, RESILIENT AND NOBLE PEOPLE… AND WE ARE STILL HERE!