Engaging Across Difference
White tears & black TV
Tips for accomplices: Stop crying! When a person of color talks to you about a microaggression you committed or wants to discuss the impact one of your comments had on them, hold back your tears. In 2011 Robin DiAngelo, a white woman, coined the term "white fragility" to describe the defensiveness that white people exhibit when their beliefs about race and racism are challenged. Not only does a wall of defensiveness go up, but more often than not that defensiveness is coupled with tears. A white woman's tears, can and will, often stop a conversation mid-sentence.
Accomplices! Do you realize how powerful your tears are? How much privilege they expose? When a person of color trusts you enough to share something with you, your tears make us rethink sharing something with you the next time. Your tears are a deterrent. They say: "I don't want to talk about it. I want to avoid this conversation. It is too difficult and I feel too uncomfortable. Please stop talking."
Instead, if you are feeling strong emotions, excuse yourself. If you are having conversations about race and racism in a room full of people, step out to gather yourself instead of crying in the presence of people who have experienced the racial violence firsthand. Find and build a support system of white people.
Self-care tips for folks of color: Challenge yourself to take a week off from input that is majority white. A couple of months ago, we decided to challenge ourselves and only watch black television and movies. It seemed hard at first, but after a day we were really enjoying ourselves. This challenge went even further--not only were we only watching majority black television and movies, we were only reading black authors and only listening to music by black artists.
In a white-washed world, sometimes we don't realize how absent WE are in the faces we see and the voices we hear. This has been life-changing for us and we have continued to watch majority black television and read more black authors. Try it and let us know how it goes!