(Look, I know this is long but please, just humor me. I know how these people think. I've talked to far too many of them. The context is very important and I have an actual point.)

So I didn't read your original article (though it did show up in my feed a couple times) and probably won't at the moment because I'm in a bad mood right now for totally unrelated reasons, so I'm gonna make a few assumptions based on context clues.

But first, let me get this out of the way: None of this offends me personally. I don't feel any emotional connection to Team White or any crap like that. Especially right now. It's impossible for me to empathize with these people in any way beyond a clinically detached need to understand their thinking.

About 95% of the articles in my Medium feed involve race relations--Black people in White spaces, White privilege, cries of frustration and rage at the daily horrors and outrages and general bullshit Black people have to put up with every single day.

And I've actually read a lot of them. Enough to start treating it as its own literary subgenre.

95% of the time it's a provocative, confrontational title, (an ugly necessity in modern blogging) followed by an extremely reasonable, calm, well-structured argument. Most of the time I just sigh and think "Yeah, pretty much." Most of it is the exact same shit I write about myself, so I often have little to add besides "Yup."

Which is largely how I feel about this piece: This is all stuff I've noticed and talk about constantly. It's slightly more aggressive than most, but whatever, I get really worked up over this too and it doesn't even affect me personally.

But.

It also inadvertently triggered another metatextual thing, something I truly wonder if Black authors factor in when they look at how Whites respond to their works:

Every day, our inboxes and news sites are all screaming their own apocalyptic, attention-grabbing headlines. It's nobody's fault. It's not even immoral. It's just something we all have to do to survive in this media environment.

But they wear on you.

The race stuff in particular isn't what bothers me because I actually read the articles and sympathize with the writers. Even when my inbox is flooded with "DEAR WHITE PEOPLE"s I'm more annoyed by the spam than the contents.

But what if I didn't? What if I was just a casual reader?

Then I'd probably start getting real pissy real quick.

Look...I'm not judging here. You've got every right to be furious and you're not wrong in what you're saying.

But dude, one of the biggest triggers Whites have is when they, as individuals, are lumped in with Whites, the social/political/historical abstraction.

I have talked to so many of these people, many of whom are otherwise not very racial in their thinking, and they get so incredibly defensive about this, no matter how gently you introduce the subject. A lot of these people definitely say and think problematic things, but they don't see themselves as rabid bigots, nor do they see themselves as living the high life at the expense of others.

Again: Not defending their thinking, just articulating it.

Which places an unfair burden on you, the Black writer: If you don't want tons of Whites freaking out in the comments, you'll have to walk on eggshells and put in all these obnoxious, legalistic disclaimers about how the term "Whiteness" is very complex and ambiguous and refers to many different things, and it may or may not refer to the reader specifically. You can also make a less confrontational, more reassuring title and watch as your readership plummets.

But that would be shitty, dishonest writing.

So I guess the real question is, what is your specific reason for writing this? Is it personal catharsis? Is it meant to raise awareness? Among whom? Whites, Blacks, both? Are you honestly trying to persuade the reader? Or are you trying to help likeminded people feel like they're not alone?

I won't pretend to know the answer. But I think there is a disjunction between the fact that you wrote a provocative piece and your seeming surprise at the response you got. It does seem odd that you wrote something called "I Don't Know If White People Have Any Humanity" (or whatever) and were surprised White people didn't like it.

Anyway, hope this helps.

--

So there's this thing called privacy

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store