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!
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.
The survival guide for dealing with chronic complainers: Great quote, "
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."
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