Let’s Talk About White Privilege is a six-week series running here in Fresno, every Wednesday evening. Title speaks for itself. I have attended the first three meetings.
This Wednesday, however, I did not ride the bus nearly an hour to the meeting spot. I did not smile and sit at a table full of white people and listen to them talk
I gave up. I am tired of listening to white people’s astounding excuses, self-centered prattling, and “innocent” ignorance.
The facilitators of Let’s Talk About White Privilege specifically asked that People of Color be present. Honestly, I saw the talks as a chance to tell white people about themselves and poke my head out and see if their delusions were worse than what I experienced in college when I gave these kinds of conversations all my fury and passion in the hopes that white people could begin to understand the issue of white privilege. But I ended up being much kinder than I imagined. I did not utter one unkind word to them at any session. My truth, my presence, was enough of a shock for their white asses.
Which is sheer ridiculousness in and of itself.
How do you live your whole life with everything you have built on the backs of others then look at the victims of your privilege and say “WOW, gee, I didn’t know!” ?
“I work as an educator in the Black community but I don’t live in a community where there aren’t any Black people.”
“Are Black students just bad or is it something else?”
“You’re my new best friend!” (The lady who said this to me never came back as far as I know after she and her husband gave me a ride home the first Wednesday.)
“[Black people] should stop being so sensitive.” (To which, I replied, “I’m not being sensitive at all”.)
“I’ve never thought about my privilege at all. [I] just never saw it. Never wondered…”
Their ignorance of their white privilege made me absolutely sick to my stomach. As important as these talks are, I couldn’t sit through another one of them. This is the reason I hesitated to attend in the first place; it wears on you eventually, no matter how positive an attitude you come into it with, no matter how much you want to help. It always does.
Watching the number of attendees shrink. Eventually being one of only two Black people in attendance. Seeing whites who were friendly with me last Wednesday, even gave me a ride home, disappear from the meetings completely or hightail it out of the meeting room without so much as a backward glance. Walking and catching the bus home after sundown in the dark with all that toxic, disgusting white bullshit swirling around in my head.
I think about the white faces I saw at he first meeting but not at the second. I think about the dwindling number of attendees by the third Wednesday round of Let’s Talk About White Privilege and I think, At some point, they get tired of facing the harsh, unrelenting reality their white privilege rains down. Whites retreat back into their comfy, white fantasies where I do not exist. Where they can pretend the white elephant in the room doesn’t exist. But I don’t have the luxury of retreat. I don’t have the privilege. Nor do other Black folks and People of Color.