An Open Letter to Liberal White Women
Many Americans were deeply horrified by the open display of racism that took place in Charlottesville. To a person of color, however, racism within the United States, as well as around the world, comes as no surprise. Racism is a constant micro-aggression that never ceases to rear it’s ugly head. While displays of racism might offend and surprise liberal, well-educated, white women, they are oftentimes the protectors of it.
This letter is addressed to them.
Dear liberal white women,
This letter is long overdue. Maybe we’ve never had this conversation because a part of me has always admired you: I’ve pedestaled you and your side-swept bangs, I’ve coveted your nonchalant, casual nature and I’ve longed to go through life as unhindered and unbothered as you. Your whiteness has allowed you to coast through life, affording you certain privileges which I will never know. Despite our physical differences, your liberal upbringing has allowed us to to be friends, lovers and allies. The critical difference between us, though, has always been your immunity to feelings of inferiority. We were not born the same: you had virtue, and I had politics. You were pure and innocent, and I was black. I have never been envious of your whiteness but I have thought how exquisite it would be to forget my own blackness– to be free of the daily reminders and micro-aggressions that say my body is worth less than yours.
As a friend, lover and ally, you have stood by me and ‘spoken out’ against racial injustice. At the same time you have unknowingly contributed to my own, and other POCs, feelings of unworthiness. It’s the way you rebuke my personal experiences and say I’m overreacting to an incident that I felt was racist. It’s the way you slide down meekly in your chair when your relative makes a tone-deaf comment at the dinner table. It’s the way you awkwardly glance at me when you sing the word 'nigga.' It’s in these ways that you value your own whiteness over my blackness and it’s for these reasons that I cannot relate to you.
“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.”
– Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
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