White women of the world, it’s time. Put down the cell phones. No really, put them down. Back away slowly. It’s time to talk, and I don’t mean about pumpkin spice or ugly sweater parties or the latest sale at HomeGoods. Lately, “stuff white people like” has come to include “calling the cops on black people doing normal people things.” This is not acceptable.
Look at my vampire-pale skin. I’m one of you. I like camping, Bansky, and vintage crap, all stuff white people are supposed to like. I have three adorable blond moppets with weird white people names. We do not use washcloths. I am so basic it hurts. And that’s why I’m telling you this now. People of color tell us we need to start policing our own, so that’s what I’m here doing.
We white women, we have to get it together. Now.
Put away your cell phones, and let’s get down to business. You don’t want to make the same mistake as Cornerstone Caroline, Gas Station Gail, BBQ Becky, Permit Patty, or any of the other idiot white women out there who saw normal black people, observed them doing normal people things,then proceeded to flip out and call 911 for no apparent reason.
I mean, you know that’s racist, right?
You are not being a good citizen, BBQ Becky, when you call 911 not once, but twice, to complain — so vociferously that the operator asks in all seriousness if you’ve ever been committed — that there are black people you claim are BBQing illicitly in a public park (newsflash: they were completely allowed to BBQ there). She demanded that “the situation be dealt with immediately so the coals don’t burn children and we don’t have to pay more taxes.”
This is not being a good person. This is not civic engagement. This is harassing black people simply because you can get away with it.
You are not protecting your place of work, Gas Station Gail, when you dial 911 because some folks on their way back from a peaceful protest about taking back Charleston from gangs and gun violence stop by to purchase some drinks for the kids with them. First, you don’t let the kids in the store — you make them stand out in the hot sun. They are literally holding signs that read “Stop the Violence” when you call 911 and say, “It’s like a riot out there.” Instead of saving your precious gas station, you’re showing that you’re terrified of black people in groups. Even when they’re children.
This seems to be the root of it, white women. Deep down, you are afraid of black people. They’re normal people trying to live normal lives in a society that constantly oppresses them, tells them they’re less than, shoots them in broad daylight with impunity, but you are somehow scared of them. This makes about as much sense as calling the cops on a small child selling bottled water — oh wait, that was Permit Patty who pulled that one.
Maybe you’re proud to be racist. In that case, I’m not talking to you, because you’re basically unreachable.
But most of you would be shocked to be called racist. You agree that racism is bad. Racism is wrong. But you probably also think that racism is no longer a problem (it is, and a big one), that colorblindness is a good thing (it’s not, and there are lots of reasons why), and that really, black people in America have it pretty good nowadays (they don’t).
But it’s likely you’re willing to at least learn. So let’s start with this protocol:
2. Imagine they are a white person. Not because it’s okay to imagine black people are white — it’s not — but because this will short-circuit the racist, kneejerk, reach-for-the-phone reaction. Desperate times, desperate measures and all that.
3. Now, pretend this imaginary white person is doing the same thing as this black person you are suspicious of. Would this fall under the aegis of “normal people thing” in that case? If so, carry on with your day and leave them alone.
4. Repeat as necessary to be a decent human being.
This protocol can save countless black people from being needlessly harassed by women who are both afraid of them and eager to exercise their meager power over someone, because they feel powerless and oppressed by a patriarchy themselves (that’s an essay in itself). It can also save you, personally, from becoming a viral internet meme and garnering a stupid nickname based upon your racist actions. You will be haunted forever, because the internet never dies. You may get fired. You will certainly mess up any google searches conducted by friends, future employers, or potential romantic interests. It’s not worth it, ladies. Cornerstone Caroline will never be the same. But neither will that nine-year-old she claims sexually harassed her when he accidentally brushed her with his bookbag.
Just put down your phone. Put it down. Realize black people have the right to exist, in public, without your interference. It’s an exercise in power that you don’t need to enact. Does it make you feel good to oppress people? Does it make you feel righteous, like some kind of good citizen, like you’re upholding some law or order or something?
You’re not. You’re being the oppressor. You’re enacting the problem. You’re traumatizing children, breaking down the bonds of civility itself, wasting police time and energy. Channel your energy into a real cause, like picking up litter or volunteering. That’s what real good citizens do: they make the world a better place. And calling the cops on random black people does not make the world a better place. It makes the world smaller, meaner. More hateful. More divided.
So from one white lady to another, just don’t make the call. Say “hi” instead. Smile. Wave. Go on your basic way with your pumpkin spice latte. No one asked you, anyway.