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Dear white allies: We're tired of white people asking us how they can do better, so it's up to you to teach your friends.

By Aaminah Shakur I began this essay two days before Charlottesville, VA imploded. I originally opened with two scenarios that I have witnessed of white self-described “allies” asking how they can influence their fellow white people in their social circles to do better for Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). It seems like every time something happens, white people wring their hands and ask “what can we do?” This places the onus on marginalized people to provide suggestions, lists, links, and handholding (i.e. literal and emotional labor) at a time when we are already trying to cope with and survive the given situation. It has been my experience that even when we offer the labor of suggestions, most white "allies" will ignore (or argue) every suggestion we give. Marginalized people can literally name “this is what I need from you right now” and be told that isn’t really what we need.  While we are frequently treated as a monolith, where one of us is supposed to answer for our entire community, in the face of specific actions we ask allies to take suddenly they remember that none of us can speak for all of us, and they tell us that whatever we are asking for is unreasonable and does not represent our community’s “real” needs. So many lists fly around every time a crisis is happening, and when a new crisis happens we have to create a whole new list — even though it looks eerily like the last list that people should have been familiar with and applied to the new situation.
Related: HEY, WHITE ALLIES? IT’S GAME TIME.

My habit of showing my humanity via having feelings, is routinely used by white people as ammunition to discredit anything I have to say.

By Shannon Barber Don't call me angry when what you mean to say is: this Black person has full human emotions and I'm uncomfortable. Or if you mean: I feel personally slighted by a generalized statement because who is this Negro is telling me what to do. Don’t dehumanize me because you are uncomfortable with what I have to say. Before we go further, for the official record, this is not me angry. I am sad. I am exhausted. I am not angry. One of the downsides to being a writer in the age of the internet are reader comments and being accessible when someone feels some type of way. The function of this type of entitlement is that I am expected to give my time and energy freely, be nice, and show only the face of a Strong Black woman. Any sign of humanity, of emotions, or even simply saying, “no I don’t want to talk to you/further engage” enrages people who exercise this type of entitlement. There is a mix of righteous indignation that I have not made myself available that is mixed with disbelief and dismissal. Often, people will go out of their way to find me, send me a private message where they explain to me what I've already said, explain how I've experienced my life experiences incorrectly, explain to me that my anger and aggression are too scary to be given space, how I personally am responsible for racism and sexism still existing – these are just a few of the nicer things. I won’t repeat the rape and death threats verbatim, nobody needs to see that.
Related: TEN WAYS WHITE PEOPLE CAN STOP ANNOYING PEOPLE OF COLOR ON SOCIAL MEDIA

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