Season 1, Episode 3 May 16, 2019
COMBING THE ROOTS PODCAST By Ally Henny
HENNY: This is Ally Henny and you’re listening to “Combing the Roots,” powered by The Witness – A Black Christian Collective. Are all white people racist? The answer to that is yes. Stay tuned to find out why.
HENNY: So. White people are racist. And also, water is wet. Neither of those things are surprising, and so really why am I even talking about this, taking an entire episode to talk about this? Well, I think that there’s a little bit more to it. To say that all white people are racist, I think that there’s a lot of digging that we have to do within ourselves to fully understand that statement. Because we’ve experienced it, we’ve seen it on a day-to-day basis. I mean, this past Black History Month is evidence of that, to some measure and to some degree. Like, Black History Month 2019 was a trip. But just to say “All white people are racist” and to kind of dust off our hands, and pack it in and go home – I feel like that’s insufficient. I feel like we really have to dig down and understand this thing. And not so much dissecting whiteness, and not so much elevating whiteness, as it is saying and making it this object that we all have to behold; but I think that we have to look at how it affects us.
So even making that statement, that all white people are racist – I don’t know about you, but for me, I feel a little bit of a tug and a little bit of a pull, even as I say that. Because I know it’s true; but at the same time, it’s like, oh, but I think of all of those good, benevolent white people who haven’t showed their tails, and who are kind to me and nice to me. And that’s really the deception of whiteness. That’s really the deception of
this whole thing, is that our culture has made racism into this violent act. Which, it IS a violent act. But it’s not just a violent act in terms of overtly, like in terms of burning crosses, in terms of hurling racial slurs, in terms of flying Confederate flags and doing all those sorts of things that we associate with racism. Nor is it kind of the more “racism light” version. (I say “racism light” – oh my goodness. Like any version of racism is “light.”) But kind of the less rah-rah versions, I guess, of racism, where you have systemic racism, where we have the school-to-prison pipeline, where we have I don’t know what else – I could go on and on – ecological racism; there’s so much stuff that is still harmful to Black people, but it’s not necessarily the in-your-face violence. And that’s still violent. And then we have microaggressions. We have that level of racism, where people say stuff and you’re like, “Why did you just say that? Did you just say that? What was that?” There’s that level of racism, that racism, I guess, “ultra-light,” if you will.
And that’s really the problem: is that we look at racism and we realize that there’s all these different types of racism, because we see it and we experience it on a regular basis. And we can look at a lot of things – and a lot of us have gotten really good at diagnosing whiteness, and we’ve gotten really good at dissecting white supremacy. Yet I feel like – and maybe I’m the only one, so maybe I’m just putting my business out here on Front Street – you know, I’m married to a white man, and so, like, to think, “Yeah, that’s a racist; that dude, he’s got some racism” – that’s difficult for me. But at the same time I think that we have to acknowledge, we have to say that yeah, all white people are racist. How could all white people NOT be racist – because of the fact that this whole country, our whole culture, is built upon the blocks of racism. It’s built on genocide. It’s built on hatred. It’s built on slavery. It’s built on white supremacy. So how could we say that white people aren’t racist? That somehow, in this whole culture, in this whole thing where even Black people, we have internalized white supremacy; that somehow there are these magical unicorns of white people who manage to live in this culture, and go through this life, and go to schools, and watch television, go to movies, read books, be involved in any way, and not just live in some sort of bubble; how can we say that there’s like this special class of white people who have gone unscathed? I don’t think that we can. I don’t think that we can say, well, just because somebody’s my best friend or my husband or the pastor of my church, or some person in authority, or some person that I really, really, really like, and they’re white, that somehow they’re not racist. I really feel
like that we have to come to terms with that. Because I think that in fighting white supremacy, in promoting justice, in really calling a thing a thing; I think that we have to call a thing a thing. And calling this thing out: we have to be honest with ourselves and say that every single white person that we know has been affected in some way or another by this joint.
And so then what do we do? Where does that leave us, as Black folks? Where does that leave us? Do we just curl up and be suspicious of every single person, and kind of take like this really super-defensive posture? And get really angry, and get really bitter, and just lash out at everything and everyone and every idea that could possibly have whiteness, or be associated with white people? Do we do that? Or do we just approach the attitude that oh well, hey, well, you know, everything, everybody, everything’s racist, so we might as well just not even care? And we should just kind of seep into passivity. Or do we seep into despair? And just totally start wigging out because everything’s racist, everybody’s racist. I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to be, I don’t know who to love, I don’t know who to care about, I don’t know who to trust. I think that somewhere in all of that is our answer. I think that we have to come to terms with the racism that is in our society. And in coming to terms with the racism in our society, we have to come to terms with the fact that there are people that we know – there might even be people that we love, people that we work with, people that we’ve formed friendships with and bonds with – who are dealing with racism, who are dealing with their own prejudices.
And that’s what racism is. If you don’t know, I’m here to tell you that racism is nothing but prejudice plus power. So we all have prejudices. We’re all prejudiced about something. For instance, I’m super prejudiced whenever I start texting somebody, and their phone comes up with that green bubble. I’m an iPhone user, and I love my iPhone, and whenever I go to text somebody it hurts my feelings whenever they pop up with that green bubble. Yeah. My green-bubble prejudice isn’t really hurting anybody, it’s not really harming anybody. And that’s just an example. But I want to say – and I don’t mean to trivialize racism – I’m just saying, I think that we all have prejudices. But racism is racial prejudice, plus power. And so the difference between my personal prejudices against people, which I am working on, because I know that I have it and I try to spot
them; I work on those things, but I’m not trying to be actively prejudiced against people. But at the same time I recognize, like, yo, I live in this white supremacist culture that makes me prejudiced and makes me suspicious of people of my own race, let alone people of different races. And so I have that expectation for myself. So I realize that white folks are living that same thing; but they’re living that same thing with everybody. And so the difference between me and between my husband and between anybody else who’s white, is that they have the power to enact racism. They have the social power, the social clout, to be racist. Because that’s what racism is, is prejudice plus power, like I said.
And so I think that for us, as we go on this journey of understanding racism and go on this journey of justice, and trying to pull down everything that we would see as being harmful for us; we have to be honest with ourselves, and, like I said, be honest with ourselves about people that we know. Because I think that white supremacy has been able to get a foothold because we continue to say, “Well, yeah, racism is a thing,” But then do we absolve, are we absolving the white people in our lives, of their racism? Are we absolving them of their casual prejudices? Are we absolving them of the myriad ways in which they imbibe a racist culture and don’t have to see any repercussions for that?
So I want to talk about this a little bit more, after the break. [MUSIC]
HENNY: In the last segment I raised the question of whether or not Black people too easily absolve white people of their racism. And I think that the answer to that is yes. But I think that there’s a little bit more to it than that. I think that we are easy on white people, not because we want to be, but because it’s a matter of survival, really. White fragility is a thing, and anytime you say anything to white people about being racist, about being insensitive, or any of the myriad ways in which we try to couch, “Hey, you’re doing something that is ratchet – stop” – white people go all to pieces. I mean, they go all to pieces like Bucky after the Thanos snap. They just completely melt, they completely fall apart, and they get violent. And it is a lot. And even the ones who don’t get violent – the amount of emotional labor that we have to do to reassure them that they’re OK; it
sometimes makes it not even worth it to go through it with people. I mean, half the time, I don’t even want to go back and forth with people. Whenever somebody says something, whenever somebody does something, whenever they’re just being white normative or whatever, it costs a lot less to just keep your mouth shut.
And I’m not saying that us keeping our mouths shut somehow inflicts white supremacy upon ourselves. I want to make sure that – I think I might have said something in the last segment that might have drawn that conclusion, and that’s actually not what I’m trying to say. What I’m trying to say is that our reluctance to deal with white supremacy, our reluctance to call people out, is really a result of the emotional abuse that we suffer from white people. So we know that if we call them out, they will flip out. We know that if we say, “Yo, that is a problem,” there is a good chance that we will have to go through some stuff – first of all, to even prove to them that what they said is a problem, let alone going through all the emotional fallout once they realize that they’ve said or done something racist: having to bind their wounds, having to – for a black woman, I feel like, it’s like we have to be their emotional mammy, and we have to say, like, you know, “OK, it’s going to be all right,” you know, “We sick, but it’s going to be OK.” And there’s this whole song and dance that we have to go through because whiteness dictates and demands that we go through it.
And maybe you’re listening to this and you’re saying, “That isn’t me.” And if that’s not you, then please, give me a call and tell me what you’re doing. Because I feel like even the most Blackety Black, even the most “I’m just out here, I’m gonna tell, I’m gonna call a thing a thing;” even the most that of us, we realize that there is an emotional cost to that. I call white people out on their racism all the time, and there are still times whenever I see something and I’m just like, “I’m just gonna move on by.” I just raise my little church finger like, “OK, I’m just going to excuse myself,” put my hand behind my back, I’m going to excuse myself because I don’t want to have to deal with this nonsense. There’s times, like on Facebook, friends will call me in and I’m just like, “Oh, man, I do not have the strength to deal with another fragile white person in the middle of their white fragility fit.” And so if you’re somebody that somehow, you manage to always, at every point, recognize white supremacy, and at every point confront that white supremacy, then you deserve a medal. You deserve the glory, the honor, and the power; everything to you.
And I’m not trying to be sarcastic; like, I mean for real. Like, you the real MVP. Because I know that I cannot do that. I know that there are times whenever I just have to say, for peace’s sake, “Let me just get through this. Because I see this, and I’m just going to pretend like I don’t. Because I just – I’m asleep. I’m asleep right now, because I just don’t have the strength.”
And so if you’re somebody that you’re able to do that, every single time, and it’s not costing you your job, it’s not costing you your mental well-being, your emotional well-being; that’s great. But I have a suspicion that most of us have been in that boat at one time or another, when somebody has said something just completely out of line, and the question becomes, “Do I say something, and then have to do the whole thing? Or do I keep my mouth shut and keep on keepin’ on, and just let it blow; and maybe it’ll be OK.” And for those moments, I think that we have to look into that. We have to dissect that. Because that is a real, true thing. And I really feel like it is the result of emotional abuse. I think that a lot of us go through gaslighting with white people. White people gaslight us whenever we tell them, “Hey, yo, that’s racist,” and they tell us, “No, it’s not. It’s actually this and this and this and the other.” That’s gaslighting. Or whenever people minimize; whenever we say, “Hey, really, that’s a problem,” and people are like, “Oh, you always say things are racist. You always blah blah blah.” That’s minimizing. And those are emotional abuse tactics. Let’s just call a thing a thing.
And so there are some of y’all that are in relationships, where you have called something out, and people have minimized stuff. And you have been like, “Oh, OK, well, maybe it’s not a thing.” I know that there’s been times whenever I’ve talked to my husband about race, and he’s said stuff, and I’m like, “Look. No. Stop. You don’t understand what you are talking about. You are being an entire white man right now.” I’ve said that to him. Because it’s been the truth. And the way that my marriage is set up is that we are honest with one another. I am bluntly honest with my husband. That’s not to say that, you know, somehow this is the one white man that doesn’t … no, I’m not saying that. Because there’s times whenever he gets in White Man Mode, and I’m like, “Dude, you are being an entire white man right now. Like, you’ve gotta pump the brakes. You have to see this a different way. Like, I need you to see this and to hear this a different way.” And, thankfully, the way my husband is set up is that he pumps the brakes, he takes a deep
breath, he pumps the brakes; and then we dissect it, and we go through it. But some of y’all don’t have that freedom. And it might not just be a relationship like an intimate relationship, like a husband or a boyfriend. It might be family relationships. It might be that your brother’s – your sister-in-law is white, and she say stuff, and you have to deal with her abuse whenever you try to call her out on it. Or maybe you’re dealing with people in your workplace. Or maybe there’s people who go to your church, or who are at your place of worship, that you admire and you respect, white people; but they do things that are emotionally abusive.
And so I know that that’s tough. And that might be a bitter pill for some of y’all to swallow. But we have to call a thing a thing. Because whenever people minimize your experience; whenever people try to tell you that the things you saw and sensed and smelled and touched; the things that you could observe with your own senses; and somebody tells you that it’s not that: that’s gaslighting. And that is a problem, and that is wrong. And I just want to name that. Because maybe somebody needs to hear that today: that the things that you’ve said, and then people said, “Well, no, that’s not it,” and you’ve been like, “Oh, maybe it’s not” – you felt like, “Maybe I’m crazy, but I really feel that the people around me are super racist,” and people have convinced you that they’re not – maybe you need to hear that, that that is a form of abuse. And so we have to do things to help protect ourselves.
And I’m not saying “protect ourselves” in this self-protective type, enclose ourselves in this hermetically sealed bubble where we don’t ever associate with anybody that is white, or we don’t ever associate with anybody who has the potential to hurt us. That’s not what I’m saying. I think that we can go too far on that. Now, hear what I’m saying; hear what I’m not saying. I guess what I’m saying is that we don’t have to protect ourselves and get in a hermetically sealed bubble and just put up all these walls and defenses all the time, in every single relationship. But we do have to protect ourselves and put ourselves in the bubble sometimes, because there are people who genuinely are toxic. There are people out there who are not going to change, no matter what you tell them. No matter how much education you give them; no matter how many coffees you go out with them for, or whatever it is that people do; they’re not going to change. They have no intent to change. They are fully invested in their white supremacy, and
they are fully invested in making you feel bad because they’re prejudiced. And so those are people you’ve got to get rid of. Those types of people you have to cancel; you have to step away from; you have to say.
But there are people, legitimately, I believe, that operate in good faith. Maybe not good faith; but they operate with the currency of, “Well, maybe if I understand, I can get better.” And there’s a whole bunch of implications to that. So I want to talk about how we deal with this; how we deal with white people who are racist pretty much all the time. More after the break.
HENNY: In the last segment I talked about how white fragility is a form of violence, and how racism is a form of emotional abuse. And so now I want to talk a little bit about how we navigate that. And so first I think that we need to go back to this concept of racism being emotional abuse. Because it’s a very heady and heavy concept. I think that even we could probably have a whole other podcast episode or series or something on that topic itself. But racism definitely displays some attributes of emotional abuse. The two that I can think of, right off the top of my head, are gaslighting and minimizing; and if you don’t know what those things are, I encourage you to look them up, because you’ll be like – and apply them to racism – you’ll be like, “Whoa, yeah, that’s a thing.”
And so I think that, racism as emotional abuse, I think that first of all I need to say that what I’m about to say, I don’t think really applies to any other form of abuse. So please do not apply what I’m going to say to any other form of abuse that doesn’t have to do with racism. But hear what I’m saying with this. I think that with racism as emotional abuse, that there is sort of a line of demarcation that we have to draw. So white supremacy is a system. It’s something that’s baked into our culture. It’s baked into pretty much everything that we do in America. And so that is a learned behavior. It’s something that white people don’t have to – none of us have to learn white supremacy. None of us have to learn anything about white supremacy. White people don’t have to learn anything about how to enact or maintain white supremacy, because it is baked into
everything. And we just know how certain interactions go; we just know how it all goes down.
And so there are people who are actively working to keep that. There are people who are actively working to make sure that white supremacy stays alive and well. I think that that probably is a numerical minority of white people. But most white people sort of fit into this place of neutrality, where they are not actively dismantling their own white supremacy, and they’re not actively dismantling their own white-centeredness and their own white normativity. And so in that, they are still actors of racism. So the people who are – they tacitly, they just want to be racist – those people are canceled. Completely, 100 percent, without, like, we don’t even have to ask any questions about that. They’re just canceled. We don’t have to say – now, if they decide to take themselves out of that category, then OK, we can have the discussion. But the people who want to be in that discussion: they’re canceled. We don’t have to deal with them. We don’t have to be in community with them. We don’t owe them anything.
But as we get into the more middle categories, where you have these who, they are just ignorant; they don’t see that white supremacy is a thing. They don’t see the ways in which they are complicit in those things. And we work with those people. I don’t think there’s any facet of society in which a Black person can totally interact at all times with another Black person. I don’t think it exists in the United States. I think that for most Black people, we are in spaces and places where we are interacting with white people. In some shape, form or fashion, we are interacting with them. And in most of those spaces, we are in some type of community with them. It could be a school, it could be a place of worship, it could be clubs or different affiliations. It can even be in workspaces where we have coworkers and bosses and administrators and everyone else, who are white. And so I think that all of us interact, in some shape, form or fashion. I would say that it’s the minority of Black people who, in most of their interactions, only ever interact with Black people. I could be wrong about that; but I think that most of us would relate to that. I think that racism and talk about racism is so ubiquitous; there are so many things I the Black experience that we talk about, that has to do with racism; that I think that most of us – we wouldn’t be dealing with these things if we were only ever interacting with Black people.
And so that creates a thing. Because we have white people who don’t recognize their own white supremacy. They don’t recognize the problematic nature of their thoughts and actions. And yet they are in community with us in some shape or form. And we are in community with them in some shape or form. And then even we might build relationships with them; we might have friendships, we might have intimate relationships with them; they might be our “besties” or whatever – because I’m assuming like that’s what white people call like their best friends. I guess if you have a white friend that’s like your best friend, they’re not just like your best friend, they’re your “bestie.” And so you might have a best friend that is white, or people who are really close to you, or people who are in your place of worship or whatever it is, that are white. And so there are these tight relationships that we have. And most of the white people that you have in those relationships, most of them probably fall into that category where they are wholly unaware of their own internalized white supremacy. And they’re wholly unaware of the ways in which they’re complicit, and the ways in which they maintain white supremacy. And so how do we navigate that space of dealing with those people?
I think that it’s really difficult. I think that it is so tough to be in these spaces. Because white people – they dominate a lot of things – they dominate everything, if we’re really honest about it. But they tend to be forces of nature in these spaces. And so whenever you have a white person who is unaware of their complicity in white supremacy, and they enact racism against you – whether it’s – I mean, we’re going to pretend like; we’re going to talk just at the level of microaggression, realizing that – and I say “levels.” I really shouldn’t even put levels on it. I’m not going to put levels on it. Whenever they do things that, whenever they do things that white people do – and they’re in the common experiences that we all have with white people – white people white peopling – whenever white people white people, we have this whole thing that we … at least for me. I shouldn’t speak for everybody. I have this whole thing that I go through. I’m just like, “OK, white people are white peopling. How do I handle this?” Because it can be emotionally exhausting to call out every little thing, and to deal with every little thing. And I’m of the opinion – and this is just me – but sometimes we have to swallow a few gnats. Like, not real gnats; but sometimes, like there’s a verse in the Bible where Jesus talks about how people will strain out gnats but then swallow a whole camel: basically
meaning that they will take and pull out the little things that are problematic, while ignoring the big things. And so for me it’s like, I think that sometimes we might have to swallow a few gnats. And we might have to say, “You know what? There is a bigger thing that is going on. So, OK, I’m going to lump this small thing that’s happening, so that I can have the resources to deal with the big thing.”
And so I think that for a lot of us, it is critical that we know how to do that – not that we know how to swallow gnats, because maybe you’re somebody who’s like, “No, I’m not swallowing a gnat, and I’m going to do, and I’m going to call out every little thing.” And if that’s you, then maybe this advice isn’t for you. But I know that for me, there are times whenever I just have to close my eyes. And I’m saying that, and maybe you’re like,
“Well, you’re not like” whatever – I really don’t care. Like, there’s times whenever I see things and I just have to close my eyes and keep on keepin’ on; because I do not have the energy to go back and forth with somebody on something. I don’t have the energy to sit and unpack something that is racist for them, because I’m like, you know, I have other things to do. There are some people that I know they’re not in the place to accept it. There are some people that, I have put, relationally, sort of on the back burner. So whenever they’re on Facebook saying stuff that is ratchet, I just ignore it, because I don’t have the emotional energy to go to that person and pour out – and basically be talking to a wall. So I just ignore that. And I hate that what that does to other people is, for other white people, that says that those things are OK. And then for other Black people who might be friends with that person, that person, they have to deal with that violence, those Black people have to deal with that violence: I hate that. But for my peace – for my emotional health – I just say, “You know what? I’m just not going to deal with that.”
But there are people who I’m maybe a little bit closer to, who I may be in relationship with a little bit more, that I will say – and some of it, I know that they have a heart that’s willing to receive what I have to say – I will say something. And I will say, “Yeeeahh, no, don’t say that. Yeeeeahh, no, don’t do that.” And then the people that I let close to me, the people that I let in my circle – the white folks that I let in my circle – they know that I could call them out, at any point, on anything that they say and do. And so with that said, I don’t really have a whole lot of close white friends. I have a lot of white associates. I have a lot of white people with whom I associate. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not their
friend; it doesn’t mean that I don’t love them and I don’t care about them. Because I do. I love them; I care about them; but they’re associates. But I have very few white friends – very few white people even that I trust to have in kind of a circle of confidence, or kind of a circle of “Yeah, I can trust you if I bring this issue to you.” There’s very few. And those very few white people who are in that space are people who have proven themselves. I’ve not like put them through tests and trials. They just have proven themselves to me, that if I say that something’s racist, they’re going to believe me. I’m not going to have to convince them, because they are going to believe me immediately. If I say, “Yo, this is racist,” they are going to believe me, sight unseen, that something is racist. And they might have to do work to understand why it’s racist, but they’re going to believe me that it’s racist. These people: they know my experience. They know I trust them; that if I share something with them that has happened to me, that is a racial microaggression or something like that, I trust them that they are not going to defend white supremacy, but that they are going to weep and lament with me, as I am weeping and lamenting. Or they’re going to be angry with me, as I am angry about whatever it is that I’m going through. And so that group of people is very, very, very small. But I have a lot of white associates because I’m in a lot of spaces that are white.
So I say all that to say, sometimes emotional health for us means just navigating who we can let close to us. And it might mean letting some people go. It might mean there are some people that I love – I love their personality, I love their spirit, I love most of the things they have to say – but I realize that there is this one element that is toxic, and I can’t predict that. And so I’m just going to kind of keep them at arm’s length. And yeah, people say this whole thing, like, “People can’t hurt you, and they can’t whatever.” No. No. Oh my goodness. I wish I had the time left to unpack the whiteness in that statement. I believe that absolutely, yes, we have to be vulnerable with one another; and as we’re vulnerable with one another, that certainly opens us up to being hurt, because people might reject our vulnerability. But I don’t think that we have to put ourselves in relationship with people who are just going to be violent to us, and they’re not going to care that they’re violent to us. Even if they’re good people.
Because you can be a good person and still be racist. And I think that for Black people, we have to understand that racism ain’t a binary state. I think that a lot of us have bought
the hype that racism is some sort of binary state, so we label people “racist” or “not racist.” So it’s like, “Well, my friend over here, my friend Jackie, she’s not racist.” But then you deal with a whole lot of racist nonsense from your friend Jackie. And it’s like, no: if you deal with racist nonsense from somebody, then they’re racist. And like I said at the top of the podcast, white people are racist; they have prejudices, and that makes them racist. And so there’s like a baseline of racism that every single white person possesses. And so we have to come to terms with that. Because we have bought into the hype that white people aren’t racist because they’re kind to us. A lot of us have bought into that hype, and we have to stop. We can’t buy the hype. We have to realize that there’s a baseline of racism that every single white person deals with.There’s a baseline of racism that every single white person possesses in their mind. And they have to divest and dismantle that.
And I think that people have beyond the baseline – because you say, “Well, there’s a baseline level; if they just dismantle that baseline level, then it’s gone.” That’s not true. It took 400+ years for this country, for us to build a system of racism. One lone white person in their however-many-year-old lifespan, has not undone 400 years of messaging that has compounded over all these years. They just haven’t undone it in their lifetime. Nor should we expect to fully undo it in our lifetime, which is why we have to pace ourselves, and not just go on a rampage and try to take whiteness out of every single thing – because you’ll die. Like, I want you to stay here. I want you to be here. Sometimes, like I said, you have to close your eyes. You have to close your eyes and you have to say – it’s not that you’re closing your eyes and you’re going back to sleep; and you’re like closing your eyes and getting in a sunken place – but sometimes you just have to say, “I’m going to pick my battles.” And choose to pick your battles with people who care. And choose to pick your battles with people who want you to win. And choose to pick your battles with people who actually care about working on themselves.
Now, with that said, I don’t think that we just kind of say, you know, “OK, we’re going to work on our little circle of people.” Because that leaves a whole lot of racist people out there. It leaves a whole lot of – let me rephrase that. That leaves a whole lot of ignorant people out there. That leaves a whole lot of people who are just racially ignorant – like they have no idea that white supremacy and racism exist. They had no idea that racism
was still a thing. That leaves a whole lot of those people out there. So I think that as we are able to – as we have the antiracist spoons to be able to deal with these things – we do have to go out, and we do have to call out these things. We do have to seek out some of those associates. We do have to seek out some of those people and say, “You know what? Yeah, that’s a thing. You just said a thing that was not OK. You just did a thing that wasn’t OK. And I’m going to call you out on it.” And we have to do that. But in doing that, we don’t have to be anybody’s mammy. Don’t be somebody’s racial, emotional, white fragility mammy. Don’t do that. Don’t do that stuff.
White people will tell you; white people – especially white women, I think, are very guilty of this – is making us their mammies. They mess up, and so they want us to hold their hand, and they want us to pat their hair, and they want us to make them feel better for being a racist. And in a lot of ways they want to turn the problem of racism back onto us. I think that we cannot allow white people to turn their racism back onto us, and make their racism our problem. Because their racism isn’t our problem. I mean, it is our problem, because we’re dying for it. But dealing with their racism is not our problem. And so we have to hold that mirror up and say, “Look. No, son. Look in the mirror. This is you. This is all you; this is all you and your folks. And so you have to dismantle. You have to divest. You have to repent. You have to repair.” That’s what we have to be.
So don’t be somebody’s emotional punching bag. Don’t allow yourself to be that person that is constantly in that space; constantly standing in the gap for white people who refuse to understand. At the same time, realize that yeah, there are times whenever we’re going to have to go out and we’re going to have to be courageous; we’re going to have to call some things out, and we’re going to have to deal with some people, and snatch some wigs and gather some edges; because that’s just – we have to do that. Because that group – there’s only so many of us, and there’s a whole lot of them. So we do have to go out there.
But then – I’ll say this, and I’ll end on this note: we don’t have to do it all. We can empower our white friends. Those close friends that some of us might have? We can empower them to be able to go out and collect their cousins. And yes, we still might have to do some work; we still might have to do some hand-holding and some babysitting,
kind of like, “Yeah, we need to call this out. But you need to push harder on this.” And that’s a whole other discussion. But really the basis – I mean, I can’t – I’m wanting to say all the things, and push everything out. But I can’t do that. I can’t push all the things out and say, “This is exactly how we deal with this.” But this is a small portion. It’s a small – very small, very flawed – view of this.
So I hope that you’ve gotten something out of this time. I hope that something I’ve said today maybe has edified you, has lifted you up, has blessed you; has given you a little bit of strength, a little pep in your step and a little bit of slide in your stride. I hope that this empowers you.
So I’m going to sign off for now. I’ll talk to y’all later. [MUSIC]
“Combing the Roots” is powered by The Witness – A Black Christian Collective. Special thanks to executive producers Tyler Burns and Beau York. Catch up with what I’m doing on these internet streets by visiting allyhenny.com. There you’ll be able to connect to my Twitter feed, my Instagram, and my Facebook writer’s page. I’m your host, Ally Henny. Peace.
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