I Am Not Your [Respectable] Negro

So lately I’ve been accused of being “too harsh” and “too mean” to bigots by more than one person.

The irony of the statement astounds me every time I hear (or read) it. Sometimes I reply to the criticism (if you can call it that), and sometimes I let it ride. But so it is clear where I stand on the topic, let me address it here and now.

I am physically unable to sit in the face of bigotry with a smile. Not only can’t I, I won’t.

For far too long, marginalized people have been asked to respond to bigotry by being nice and docile. We’re told to “have a conversation” and “settle our differences with respect.”

The “They go low, we go high” rhetoric. And while I love me some Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, issa no for me.

There are several issues with this ideology, the most glaring one being that we’re reducing the system of white supremacy to interpersonal interactions and individual feelings. White supremacy is a system that adversely affects every one of us that is not a cisgender white (seemingly middle-class or wealthy) man.

I understand that white feelings can be hurt when discussing how whiteness contributes to the misfortune for so many lives, but please know that 1) your feelings are not my concern and 2) I’m critiquing an entire system, not you personally (well, sometimes you personally LOL).

It’s not always about you, boo.

This ideology to indulge whiteness is deeply rooted in respectability politics. Something I have never subscribed to.

Settling our differences would be I want catfish, and you want chicken, so we decide on steak. A “difference of opinion” is not poor people shouldn’t have access to affordable and proper health care, or Black lives don’t matter, or LGBTQ+ identifying people don’t deserve the same rights and luxuries as cishet people. That’s outright bigotry. There’s no conversation to be had, only actions to be taken.

Someone’s humanity is NEVER ever up for debate or discussion.

I say all of this to say, I’m not required to meet bigotry with civility. I am not willing to meet dehumanizing discourse with decorum. I am unable to converse with someone who sees me less than human. I am not here to comfort a system that is literally designed for me to fail.

White validation is not the wave I’m riding. We will continuously be doing the same two-step until we realize that the comfort of white feelings does not and should not take precedence over the existence of marginalized people.

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