Using the privilege of being afraid to indulge social prejudice
To People of Color Living in America,
I’m not sure whether you’ve noticed, but a lot of us white Christian folks here in America are really on edge these days.
We could really use your help by doing what you can to put us at ease in such emotionally charged times.
Here are a few suggestions:
Don’t linger in coffee shops… or restaurants… or campuses… or parks.
Sure, I know it looks as though they’ve been purposefully designed to be places people feel comfortable and want to relax while waiting for, you know, meetings and stuff. But your quiet presence will draw our attention and disturb us to the point that we will be compelled to call the police or a manager or the news. Please place your order immediately prior to sitting or using the bathroom, and when finished, move along quickly so we can enjoy our lattes and waffles in peace.
Don’t go golfing.
We’ll be alarmed by seeing you in the places we’re relaxing and socializing with other white folks. We won’t engage you, of course, we’ll simply allow our fear to run amok and our minds to quickly move to panic. Again, authorities will likely be called. You can help avoid all this by taking up a hobby that doesn’t cause us heartburn and encroach upon our bubbles of privilege — or at least do us the service of hiding out of view and let us play through.
Don’t rent vacation properties near us.
We’ll immediately feel threatened and imagine the absolute worst—not pausing to actually speak to you or question whether or not our knee-jerk reactions are based in reality—or they’re the toxic bi-product of years of learned prejudice, false stereotypes, and bad theology. Often we’ll just call the cops. (You see the pattern here, right?)
If at all possible, avoid driving.
Seriously, with all the public transportation options nowadays, the high price of insurance, and the state of the environment—it’s just better if you don’t travel by car. If you do, invariably you will get pulled over or be involved in a fender-bender, and since we’re already super nervous, there will definitely be more law enforcement vehicles dispatched and things are far more likely to go sideways. It’s just better to forego cars altogether, in our humble opinion.
Do not protest:
Not racial inequities, systemic issues, police brutality, tainted drinking water, discriminatory legislation, or unjustifiable killings. These things will only cause us to dig in our heels, and move our President to change the narrative into attacks on America, the flag, and our Military — and it will not go well. Please simply quietly accept present conditions and current injustices, and wait for us to remedy them.
Don’t raise your voice.
When you get loud, we get scared, and when we get scared we do crazy things: like pull guns, call the cops, alert the media. Even if we raise our voices, please don’t respond in kind, as it will surely feel like provocation or aggression. If you can watch your tone and keep your voice down, it would sure be a help to us.
Don’t use the First or Second Amendments.
Words and guns are things we’ve gotten comfortable wielding with impunity, and we’ve grown accustomed to doing it alone. In your hands these things scare us. You have to understand that we love the Constitution, but (like the Bible) it’s always going to be something we’re reticent to share the benefits of. All that Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness stuff—it’s not for everyone.
Whatever you do, under any circumstances — please don’t say Black Lives Matter.
This triggers us — there’s no other way to say this. Sean Hannity and President Trump and our ministers and our grandaddies all told us that this is a direct attack on us, on the police, on the Government. We’re intimidated at the very thought of it all, so please stop saying these incendiary, provocative words.
This may all sound demanding, but you’ll have to bear with us. We’re fragile, easily frightened, and conditioned by pastors, GOP politicians, and FoxNews to believe we are perpetually in danger — and that you are one of our greatest threats.
We’re also realizing that we’ll soon be outnumbered here and won’t be able to push our weight around, control the narrative, legislate our fears, or mandate our religion much longer. We know that the world is tipping toward equality, and this feels like oppression to us.
So friends of color, given how terrified we are of you — if you’d indulge our prejudice, privilege, and paranoia by modifying your behavior, attitude, countenance, and body language accordingly — we’d greatly appreciate it.
This would really give us peace of mind. It would likely make America great again.
Lots of Scared White People
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com