I spend a lot of my day navigating the white people in my life that I love. I try to figure out when to offer comfort, encouragement, hard truths, or humor. I agonize over when to take time just for me, when to give up, when to take the risk and challenge someone I love who is hurting me. People fuck up; it’s natural. And when we deal with topics as fraught as race, people fuck up a lot. But when you are a person of color in a white majority country, the fuck-ups that cut into you are relentless and unavoidable. People talk about building bridges, about finding common ground, and so you find that, and you walk together. And then when it is most important you find yourself standing alone over the water where the bridge has been unfinished and you look over at your friend and they say to you, “Oh no, I won’t go there.” And then you look down, and like in the cartoons, you fall (…) On social media I’m often confronted with white friends posting about how afraid they are to fuck up, how unforgiving their friends of color are when they do. How “call-out culture” is ruining their relationships and destroying discourse. How they were labeled “racist” for asking a simple question or saying the wrong thing. And then I see my friends of color, heartbroken when once again a trusted friend reveals deep-seated racism. I see them trying so desperately to get the people they love to see. “You are hurting me,” they say in so many ways, and the response is always, “No, you’re hurting ME.” I see them lamenting not only the loss of a relationship they valued, but the loss of yet another person who they had once thought saw their humanity. I see them calculating each time something hurtful is said or done: “Do I say something now? Do I risk it? Or do I swallow this again? Do I refuse to look down and risk seeing that the bridge is no longer there?”

Ijeoma Oluo in White People Will Always Let You Down (Theestablisment)

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