Dear White People, We Need To Talk About This Racist Sh*t
A Facebook friend of mine planned a baby shower for a friend of hers (not a mutual friend). During the party, they played a game in which each guest was supposed to write a cute or funny message to the parents-to-be on the front of a diaper.
And this is what someone decided to write on one of the diapers:
Shaquille DeShawn Tyree Hope every thing [sic] comes out all white
“Hope everything comes out all white.”
If you’re reading this and you’re white, you might feel horrified, enraged, disgusted. You might be shocked that this kind of thing still happens. You might think, What kind of person would do something like this?
If you’re reading this and you’re black, you’re probably not surprised by this at all.
I think we all know exactly the kind of person who would do something like this, so let’s dig a little deeper with our questions:
Why did this woman (still, in this day and age) feel safe and comfortable smearing a racist joke on an infant’s diaper at a party? What does it say about the other people at the baby shower? What does it say about the rest of her community?
Here’s what it says to me:
It says that this woman’s social circle has led her to believe that this kind of shit is funny. That “jokes” like this would not only be tolerated, but enjoyed.
It says that in this woman’s world, jokes like these are probably also told aloud.
It says that in this woman’s world, there is, at the very least, an implicit assumption of white superiority—and I’m being generous here. It is more likely that the assumption of white superiority has been explicitly stated aloud. I mean, she did write it on a diaper, at a party that was full of other people.
It says she lives in a homogenous world, and any black “friends” she would claim are really just coworkers or people she sees at the grocery store and not actual friends who would ever hang out with her, because she’s racist.
It says she likely clutches her purse when she sees a black man walking her way.
It says she rolls her eyes at black-sounding names, like the ones she chose to write on that diaper.
It says her white children, who likely attend school with black children, are absorbing her disgusting ideology.
It says that the white folks in her social circle who are Not Racist™ have not done their part to make this bigoted sack of shit feel as uncomfortable as possible, as often as possible.
Did I overshoot a little on some of those conclusions? Eh, maybe. But… probably not. I’ll own my assumptions—unfortunately, I had racist uncles too.
Listen, I know it’s awkward and even scary to speak up. I get it—I hate confrontation too. I know the feeling of being about to hit the share button and hesitating because you don’t want to get “too political.” I know the feeling of being at a social gathering and someone says something low-key racist and you want to call them out but your mouth turns to chalk and your heart accelerates, and you just let it go because what’s the point, who are you going to convince? Why start an argument? Why make everyone else uncomfortable?
White people, it is time to get uncomfortable. Long past time, actually.
This bigoted asshole and others like her are out walking around in the world sucking up perfectly good oxygen and spreading their message of hatred to whoever they think will be too afraid to stand up to them. And it’s time for us white people—not black people, this is not their mess—to remove ALL FEELINGS OF SAFETY for those who would propagate this racist bullshit. It is high fucking time to raise a stink.
You know you have a few racist stragglers in your friends list. Share this on your feed and challenge your friends to do the same. Tell everyone you know that this “joke” is not funny to you and you won’t tolerate it in your world.
And when another white person announces that slavery ended two hundred years ago and it’s time to “get over it,” show them the above image and tell them no one’s fucking talking about slavery; we’re talking about discrimination and racism happening in the right here, right now. (And also it was only 153 years ago.)
When another white person claims affirmative action is no longer necessary because “Oh, come on, we’ve had a black president!” show them the above image and remind them that people who conduct interviews and review college applications are sometimes the kinds of people who think black-sounding names are a reason not to hire a job candidate or accept a college applicant.
When another white person speaks against Black Lives Matter with their dismissive All Lives Matter rhetoric, show them this image and remind them that too many who serve in law enforcement are the kinds of people who think black = dangerous criminal.
When another white person rolls their eyes about a strong black woman raising her voice about racism—“Making a big deal out of nothing”—show them this image and remind them that the reason black women are pissed is because they know this shit is happening and their rage is entirely justified.
White people, it is time for us to do this work. What is written on this infant diaper is not a joke. It is an ideology that too many people still adhere to, an ideology that places white above black, that scorns and mocks and belittles in a way made more vile by the off-handed, casual nature in which it was delivered.
I’m glad my friend posted this to social media since she wasn’t able to confront the guest directly. (Though if it were me, an email or group text would have gone out, and I would have been on a mission to track this guest down and shame the shit out of them.) And to be clear, I’m sure not everyone at that baby shower thought this was a funny joke. But only my friend spoke up about it, and that’s pretty telling.
I don’t want my children to inherit a world in which someone feels comfortable sharing hatred cloaked in humor to a gathering of people whose purpose is to welcome a new child into the world.
I’m just not okay with that at all, and I want everyone who knows me to be absolutely clear about that. And you should too.
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