WHITE PEOPLE: STOP WEAPONIZING OUR EMOTIONS TO AVOID YOUR RACISM

Shannon Barber
6 min readFeb 10, 2022

Originally appeared in Wear Your Voice Magazine 2016

Don’t call me angry when what you mean to say is: this Black person has full human emotions and I’m uncomfortable. Or if you mean: I feel personally slighted by a generalized statement because who is this Negro is telling me what to do. Don’t dehumanize me because you are uncomfortable with what I have to say.

Before we go further, for the official record, this is not me angry. I am sad. I am exhausted. I am not angry.

[image description: photo of the author a Black femme face palming]

One of the downsides to being a writer in the age of the internet are reader comments and being accessible when someone feels some type of way. The function of this type of entitlement is that I am expected to give my time and energy freely, be nice, and show only the face of a Strong Black woman. Any sign of humanity, of emotions, or even simply saying, “no I don’t want to talk to you/further engage” enrages people who exercise this type of entitlement. There is a mix of righteous indignation that I have not made myself available that is mixed with disbelief and dismissal.

Often, people will go out of their way to find me, send me a private message where they explain to me what I’ve already said, explain how I’ve experienced my life experiences incorrectly, explain to me that my anger and aggression are too scary to be given space, how I personally am responsible for racism and sexism still existing — these are just a few of the nicer things. I won’t repeat the rape and death threats verbatim, nobody needs to see that.

This isn’t exclusive to me, I see this everywhere. For example, I was in a long conversation with other Black folks about natural hair, enter several white women who rather than sitting back and watching, decided to inject themselves into the situation. What followed was hours of raging out of control white women who informed all of us bullies that, our talk of the hair that grows out of our heads, was divisive and that we were the true racists for not including them in the conversation.

Most of us involved wound up exhausted. Some of us lost friends, a few of us spent the remainder of the night fielding messages from other white people who either wanted us to validate how good they were in not…

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