Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm Not Too Concerned About Racism Anymore

I'm not too concerned about racism anymore. Are you shocked? How can a Black woman not be concerned about racism? Don't I know that racism still exists and that racial equality hasn't happened yet? Don't I know about all the statistics saying that Black people are treated worse than White people? Don't I care that White people are placed on a pedestal, viewed as the norm, and portrayed as superior? Honestly, no, not any more. But why?

Well because right now I'm more focused on getting my foot in the door to opportunities, staying there, and accumulating the power and resources I need to have the best life possible. If other Black people focused on this then their lives would improve, and the more Black people who have improved lives, the more we can say things have gotten better for Black people. I am not interested in finding out about, getting enraged by, starting a petition, or endlessly complaining about inequalities or racist statements/actions by individual people or groups. I just don't think that these actions do anything to help BP anymore. They just cause friction so that the people in power tip toe around us or try to stay away from us which is detrimental if we are trying to move into their spaces and get help from them. In the past focusing on racism was important because it prevented BP from being able to live at all because they were killed, abused, barred from establishments (e.g., education, jobs, stores etc.), and even from having relationships. But now those things are protected by laws and the majority of people recognize when our rights are being abused or when something is racist. It is now unacceptable for people in power to say racist things and they can actually lose their power when they do! That is progress!

So now BP are in a situation where the law is on their side, they can expect to be treated fairly, many people are taught to accept us and they actually do, and if someone acts racist then the majority will punish them in some way (e.g., lawsuits, forced apology, being fired, cultural sensitivity classes, boycotts, petitions etc.). So now I focus on getting along with people now that they have (and are often pressured) to let me into their spaces and accept me. Now that many of us have "gotten in" we have to be on our best behaviour to stay "in" because the people in power can kick us right back out. They can stifle our progress, sabotage us, ignore us, exclude us, be extra critical of us, or fire us if we don't get along with others. One way to not get along with others is to be a complainer. Let me give you an example, I was working on a project with a man and I felt that he was making me do all the work while he made the big decisions. I thought that I should be able to make the big decisions since I was doing most of the work. I sent him an angry email about it. He was the boss's favorite and he sent the boss the email! He was also more experienced than I was so ruining my relationship with him meant that I lost many work opportunities and the chance to learn from him. Because I was so focused on him using me I didn't see that I would be able to learn/use him for many things in the future. If I had calmed myself down and thought more about the consequences then things would have gone better for me. The man lost nothing from the confrontation but I lost a lot! I complained about someone in power and he used his power and influence to make my life harder and prevent me from getting what I wanted. If I had just finished the project and tried to get opportunities from the man after then I would have been much better off.

I think that the most difficult complainer for people to deal with is a racism (or sexism) complainer. My experience above only strained my relationship with my one coworker, but racism complaints strain your relationship with EVERYONE who is of the race you are complaining about and may make things difficult for many other BP who were not even involved. People who had no problem with you may avoid or dislike you after they hear your complaint about racism. They may avoid you (and other BP) because now that they know how sensitive you are and they don't want to tip toe around you. Or, if they thought you accepted them, they may be shocked and insulted by what you said during your racism complaint (e.g., accusations of reverse racism, overreacting, not being understanding, being difficult, insulting someone by calling them racist etc.). People who once thought you were easy to get along with may suddenly think that's not true and you are not who they thought you were. They are now looking at you like an outsider, unlike them, who they do not understand. People sometimes dislike those who are different who they do not understand. With a complaint about racism you can go from being part of the team, and "one of us" in a multicultural group to not being a team player and "one of them" who refuses to get along.

Am I saying this is fair? NO! Am I saying this is right? NO! But I am a realist and just explaining something that happens. Most of us have experienced this for instance after the O.J. Simpson trial, Rodney King, the Obama election, or any other racially charged incident. These can cause friction between Black and non-Black people who are not even involved. This is what happens on a smaller scale when Black people complain about racism. NOW HOLD ON, I am not saying that racism should be excused!!! I'm saying pick your battles, don't make a big deal about minor or ambiguous things that are not blatant racism, and THINK about the possible consequences. Remember, something a BP sees as racist may not be seen that way by most non-Black and anti-racist people because they are not as sensitive as you are (this does not make them bad people either). Accusing someone of racism nowadays is a HUGE insult that instantly makes people defensive and you do not know how they will defend themselves. Just remember to save your complaints for when it really matters because each complaint causes friction and people will only tolerate the friction for so long and for a certain number of times before they push back against it. Just like my story above, when they push back against complainers you may suffer way worse consequences than they do especially when they have more power.

Remember, when you complain you may not achieve the result you expected. You may be harshly punished for your complaint and be much worse off than if you had kept your mouth shut. When you go against the people holding the power and resources there is a risk they will take those vital things away. Here are some consequences we must think about before we open our mouths to complain:

  • Complaining about Black actresses being too light-skinned may cause movie producers to prefer casting non-Black actresses because there are fewer complaints. This will lead to fewer roles for BW and further complaints about the lack of such roles. The same goes for complaints about who Black actresses are romantically linked to in films/television. Complaints about interracial relationships will lead to the BW being replaced by WW. This will lead to BW not getting opportunities to show that they are relationship material and just as desirable as WW. It is WAY more important to see as many BW in positive media roles as possible rather than complaining about the way they look or who they are paired with. The goal should be to have a BW be eligible for any role without it being seen as controversial. All the media cares about is ratings/money earnings and they will ALWAYS make more money catering to the White majority than they will to the Black minority. We are lucky any of them ever try to appease us at all because they really don't have to, so be grateful for that.
  • Complaining about men not preferring dark-skinned women may cause them to dislike these women even more for insulting them by implying they are self-hating, racists, sell-outs etc. They may attribute negative traits to the complainers (e.g., low self-esteem, self-hate, being argumentative, being angry) that make it even less likely for them to date dark-skinned women. By acting like angry women needing affection from men who state they are not attracted to you it really makes you look bad. It makes you look desperate for affection from someone who doesn't like you, I'm sorry but it's true. You are displaying the very traits they cite as reasons why they prefer lighter women. NEVER beg someone to like you, you are too good for that. If someone says you are beautiful and they are interested in you ACCEPT IT and if he is a good man who meets your standards maybe you should give him a chance. How can you complain about men not liking your skin and then act suspicious and negatively when they do??? 
  • Complaining about fashion designers/companies not employing Black models may cause them to ignore BP as a sales demographic or continue ignoring them. They will just target their marketing and products to non-Black people. BP often complain about the models and advertisements of designers/companies they never even buy from and these companies know it. They have no financial motive to employ Black models. This is once again begging people to like you when you should be focusing on the ones who already do! Instead you should buy from companies who actually use Black models and cater to BP while ignoring the rest. Focus on who is focusing on you and reward them for that. 
  • Complaining when non-Black people are interested in afro-textured hair may cause them to no longer be interested and no longer like it. This may stop them from wanting to date women with natural hair or from finding them attractive. They may even ridicule BW for making such a big deal about hair (e.g., calling them superficial, shallow, too focused on race, or even racist). They may continue to encourage and laud straight hair instead of appreciating and accepting natural hair, the exact opposite of what natural haired BW want. 
  • Complaining when a celebrity (Black or non-Black) says something insensitive or racist. Let the media deal with it instead of discussing it with non-Black people. Discussing racism is negative and they may dislike you or be wary of you after the conversation when they did not have those feelings before. They don't pay much attention to race issues but you decided to bring it to their attention. Many non-Black people say they rarely think about race and I believe this is true. It doesn't affect them much or it makes them uncomfortable. By bringing up media incidents you have made them uncomfortable and they may avoid you to prevent feeling uncomfortable in the future. 
In the cases of actresses, models, advertising, and celebrities these people have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with you or the people you know. So why in the world would you let these incidents interfere with your relationships with people you know? Why would you let these incidents turn you into an "Angry Black Woman" who is avoided and disliked by the people you associate with? STOP IT because it is not helping you one bit! Let these actresses, models, and celebrities deal with their own careers and focus on your own because they surely are not concerned about you. When it comes to men, women, and non-Black people rejecting your beauty...well you can't force them to like you by begging or insulting them. You are wasting your time and energy on these people. Instead focus your attention and appreciation on those who find your skin and hair to be beautiful and BELIEVE THEM when they say it is. If you were actually repulsive they would not be complimenting you. Remember these compliments for the sake of your mental health. 

The way I see it, there are many jerks and mean people out there. Racists are just one form of jerky/mean people. You may encounter people who are rude, sexual harassers, sexual abusers, violent, bullies, con artists, unhygienic, selfish, cheating, back-stabbing, unreliable, lying, and endless other unpleasant people  in life. I try to avoid these people but I don't focus my free time on reading about these people, complaining about them, or worrying about them. I'll be concerned about these jerks when they do something to me personally. I believe in the saying "worrying about something is like paying insurance on a car you don't own" and the insurance you are paying makes you difficult to like or get along with. This is the same way I view racists and what they do. Every complaint about racism is a complaint about someone being mean, not liking you, or refusing to get along with you. I just try to succeed and get what I need out of life instead of on how these people are trying to stop me and ruin my day. I refuse to let the existence of jerky/mean people cause me to sabotage my personal relationships, appearance, and dating prospects by causing me to appear angry, unapproachable, suspicious, unfriendly, uncooperative, unreasonable, undateable, unattractive, insecure, desperate, or otherwise affected by their negative presence. If I do that then they win and I lose the things I want and need! Keep your eye on the prize!!!

P.S. I tried online activism before. I wanted to focus on gathering online self-help resources for BP because that was feasible and people could have used it to learn and help themselves. Instead BM members wanted to focus on the big bad prison industrial complex locking up Black boys who are simply victims of the White man's system. Or they were concerned about stopping BM from getting executed, BM being tasered, or BM reacting violently to racism (e.g., Jena 6). It was all about some White people doing something to some BM who had no personal responsibility and were victims of society and an unfair justice system. It was racism all day every day, fighting the man, and no personal responsibility and I don't think it achieved anything. Plus it was all about the U.S. and not even relevant internationally. 

Related Articles:
The survival guide for dealing with chronic complainers: Great quote, "
Despite how difficult their constant complaints are for those around them, chronic complainers do not usually see themselves as negative people. Rather they perceive themselves as forever being on the losing end of things, as drawing the short straw on a daily basis. Therefore they see the world as being negative and themselves as merely responding appropriately to the annoying, aggravating or unfortunate circumstances of their lives...
Even those chronic complainers who do recognize their prodigious complaining output truly believe their unlucky lot in life more than justifies their expressing their dissatisfactions to those around them because after all, it is they who have been saddled with terrible misfortune and more problems than most."
5 tips for dealing with chronic complainers
How to handle chronic complainers: Here is what you can say to stop a chronic complainer, "It is very simple but also very effective. Listen to the complainer Then, with deep sympathy in your voice, say “You know, that sounds terrible. I don’t know how you deal with all of these problems.” The answer will often be "Well..., it’s not that bad!” This approach works because it gives the complainer what he’s really after: Empathy. Not cheering up, not solutions, not egging-on. Just understanding of what is, for him, a difficult situation."
Is it time to stop moaning about the moaners?
Listening to complainers is bad for your brain: WOW!!!
Chronic complainers, a workplace blight
9 ways to defend yourself against complainers


  1. Great post again, Elegance!!!
    With respect to the work incident, I recommend reading Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power. Should a similar situation arise again, this book might give you some insight on how to deal with it.

  2. Excellent post. Spending time looking for racism is a tremendous waste of time and energy better spent focusing on oneself.

  3. You know what this reminds me of a book I read call the Law of Attraction, you should read it. One thing the book pointed out that made so much sense to me is that we attract what we think about most, therefor, if we as a group of people keep thinking about racism and looking for racism in every god given situation, then we are going to get it because that's what we're attracting to ourselves whether we want it or not. The book made it very clear that we are the creators of our reality. Therefor we are very much responsible for our current and future reality, and it is something that can be changed just by changing the way we think.

    I'm a 33 year old black Caribbean woman and I've traveled extensively and I've only been a victim of racism twice in my life. Once when I was in primary school which doesn't really count for much because kids are naturally mean. The second time I was 25 years old and I found out that the guy I was dating had racist parents who hated the fact that he was dating a black girl, but then again, they never actually liked anyone he dated so I never paid much attention to that experience either.

    I'm not trying to discredit anyone's experience because I'm sure that there are people out there who have had genuine experience with racism (racism still do exist) and I feel really bad for them, however I do feel that a lot of black people look for so called racism that is not even there and may just as well only exist in their head...just saying...

  4. I love your perspective. I am also getting to a point where I dismiss racism as just another unpleasant thing, instead of as the entirety of my existence.

    And thanks for the articles at the end. I am so over being a negative person...but now am having to deal with people venting and being perpetually negative as well! I am trying to politely disengage from those types of conversations...I know I was the go-to person for that sort of stuff before, but I don't want any part of that anymore!

  5. Bw should focus on creating goodwill and marrying up/in.

    For ex: Look at Huma Abedin. When Republicans in the house attacked her for being a Muslim woman, other Republicans stood up to defend her, because she made a name for herself in the political community.

    I'm sure this woman has had racist prejudiced things said to her, but she knows how to play her cards well.

  6. Thanks for the recommendation KC :)

    Hi Sisterlocgirl, yes I do think I wasted a lot of time focusing on that negativity. It wasn't a major concern or problem in my life at any time and I should have been focusing on other things. There is no point in worrying about things I have no control over or worrying about other people's problems.

  7. Hi Maria :)

    I do believe that if you are warned about something then you will be on guard for it and will notice when it happens. But the problem with racism is that sometimes it is very ambiguous so any time someone is mean or not the nicest to you, some people will say that's due to racism. I'm just going to take it at face value and think that the person was being mean, probably due to their personal issues and I won't stress about whether it is racism or not. Some people just act mean case closed, but I 'm not going to complain and worry about that every day.

    Hi onthewaydown :) I'm glad that you are over being a negative person. I'm getting over that too and it makes me feel much better. I don't want to wallow in misery anymore because life is too short.

    Hi Lornae :) I agree, BW should focus more on improving their lives and changing things they can actually control.

  8. Hi everyone. As a 17yr old black girl, I love all of the articles I've read on this site. I agree that change comes from positivity and I'm definitely going to better incorporate that into my life.