Common Excuses to Deny Racism and White Privilege


10 Excuses Used To Deny Racism DEBUNKED! | Decoded | MTV News

Source: Racism Scale

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Dismantling Racism: Dynamics of Denial and Resistance, Causally Racist White Bingo, Cultural Bridges to Justice: 
Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

Other Great Racist Rebuttal Sites

So You Want to Talk About Racist Rebuttals

Helpful Rebuttals For Racist* Talking Points

Dear White People: If you have ever said any of these things then you are part of the problem

Table of Contents




Lack of Intent

Competing Victimization

Logical Fallacies


Denial of existence of oppression

“Denial is the heartbeat of racism, beating across ideologies, races, and nations. It is beating within us. Many of us who strongly call out Trump’s racist ideas will strongly deny our own. How often do we become reflexively defensive when someone calls something we’ve done or said racist? How many of us would agree with this statement: “’Racist’ isn’t a descriptive word. It’s a pejorative word. It is the equivalent of saying, ‘I don’t like you.” Ibram Kendi, How to be an Antiracist


  • Its over now
  • Slavery was over a long ago
  • Discrimination is a thing of the past
  • Racism was fixed in the 60s with the civil rights movement and law (Post Racial)
  • It’s a level playing field now (meritocracy myth)
  • In this day and age?/I can’t believe this is happening in the US today?


  • Slavery and Jim Crow wasn’t that long ago
    • 5a9ee7e77add3.image_.jpg
  • Slavery didn’t end but was transformed into new systems
    • 1-JqNDSUG4uRiz3vWT4MXuYA-2
  • Effects of these systems still felt today
    • Racial wealth gap
      • Wealth of Median White Family – $147,000
      • Wealth of Median Black family – $3,500 (2% of white family)
      • Learn more about the racial wealth gap here
    • Internalize bias
      • Unconscious bias we all absorb by growing up in a society founded on white supremacy
      • Job applicants with white-sounding names get called back about 50% more than applicants with black-sounding names
        • even when they have the same exact resumes
      • Learn more about internalize bias here
  • Past injustices created our current racist systems supporting white supremacy
    • Schools
    • Criminal justice System
      • Black people make up 13% of population but 40% of prison population
      • Black people are more likely to get pulled over, arrested, assaulted by police, convicted by juries, sentenced longer by judges, than white people.
      • Learn more about the US criminal justice system here
    • People of color have never stopped suffering from racism
      • Despite white people being segregated from these negative realities

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Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

9)            We Have Overcome

“We dealt with racism in the 60’s with all the marches, sit-ins and speeches by Dr. King. Laws have been changed. Segregation and lynching are ended. We have some details to work out but real racism is pretty much a thing of the past.”

Reality Check and Consequence

The absence of legalized, enforced segregation does not equal the end of racism. This denial of contemporary racism, based on inaccurate assessment of both history and current society, romanticizes the past and diminishes today’s reality.

We just have to look at the volcanic rise of racist hate groups during the campaign and since the election of President Barack Obama, to know racism is alive and well in the United States.

15)            Not Here In Lake Wobegon

“We don’t have a racism problem here at this (school, organization, community)” or “We didn’t have a racism problem in this town until that Mexican family moved here.”

Reality Check and Consequence

As white people we do not have to think about racism when our school, organization or community is all white. Racism does not usually become apparent TO US until there are people of color in our frame of reference.

Screen Shot 2019-10-08 at 4.56.50 PMFor more White Supremacy Responses by SURJ and illustrative designer Rachel Ashley-Lovelace

“The past is the past” story line is central to color-blind racism since it fits well with the minimization of discrimination frame. Thus more than 50 percent (twenty-one of forty-one) of the college students and most DAS respondents used the story line most often when discussing affirmative action or government programs targeted for blacks. The core of this story line is that we must put the past behind us and that programs such as affirmative action do exactly the opposite by keeping the racial flame alive. A perfect example of how students inserted this story line was provided by Andy, a student at WU. Andy’s answer to the question, “Do you believe that the history of oppression endured by minorities merits the intervention of the government on their behalf?” was,

I almost-I think that the past is kind of the past and so, history of oppression?10 I don’t know if anyone [is] owed anything because of the, like, past (is) really past history, but to look at things, the way things are right at this moment and to try to move forward from there. Then I support some things, maybe affirmative action, so long as it wasn’t a runaway sort of…

Emily, a student at SU, used the story line in an exchange with the interviewer on the meaning of affirmative action:

I have, I just have a problem with the discrimination, you’re gonna discriminate against a group and what happened in the past is horrible and it should never happen again, but I also think that to move forward you have to let go of the past and let go of what happened, you know? And it should really start equaling out ’cause I feel that some of, some of it will go too far and it’ll swing the other way. One group is going to be discriminated against, I don’t, I don’t believe in that. I don’t think one group should have an advantage over another regardless of what happened in the past.

Very few DAS respondents who expressed their displeasure with programs they believe benefit blacks solely because of their racial background did not use a version of this story line. For instance, Jennifer, a school-district personnel director in her forties, expressed her opposition to affirmative action in a straightforward manner: “In general I am against it. I think it had its place. It was necessary.” She later reaffirmed her position using a version of the story line in response to a hypothetical case dealing with a company that decides to black over a white applicant because of past discrimination:

“Again I don’t think that we can make retribution for things that happened in the past. I don’t think it serves any purpose today to try to fix something that happened a long time ago that doesn’t affect anyone today. All it does is bring up to the surface that there was a problem.”

Jennifer’s last statement (All it does is bring up to the surface that there was a problem”) is the central ideological component of this story line. For whites, remedial policies are inherently divisive, hence whites’ insistence on forgetting the past.

Kate, a salesperson and part-time college student in her twenties, used the story line to explain her opposition to government programs for blacks. Kate first stated, “To make up for what we did in the past, I’d say no. I mean, we can’t still punish the Germans for what happened to the Jews so if that is to make up for what they did, then I’d say no.” Since her answer left open the possibility there may be cases in which compensatory assistance was reasonable, the interviewer asked for clarification. After the interviewer read the question to Kate again, she answered,

Am I not elaborating enough? (Interviewer: Oh, no, no, no, no, we’re just … No, I don’t think that the government should because I think that’s saying “OK, we made a mistake a hundred of years ago so now we’re gonna try to make up for it.” But yet, you know, I think that is the past and you have to move along I mean, should they admit that they made a mistake? Yes! But should there be programs for blacks that aren’t for whites if they’re in the same position, you know? If they’re hurting or they’re battered or they’re starving should it be any different because they’re not black? No!

But what is ideological about this story? Is it not true that “the past is the past”? First, whites interpreted the past as slavery, even when in some questions we left it open (e.g., questions regarding the “history of oppression”) or specified we were referring to “slavery and Jim Crow.” Since Jim Crow died slowly in the country (1960s to 1970s), their constant reference to a remote past distorts the fact about how recent overt forms of racial oppression impeded black progress. This also means that most whites are still connected to parents and grandparents who participated in Jim Crow in some fashion. Second, the effects of historic discrimination have limited blacks’ capacity to accumulate wealth at the same rate as whites. According to Melvin L. Oliver and Thomas M. Shapiro, the “accumulation of disadvantages” has “sedimented” blacks economically so that, even if all forms of economic discrimination blacks face ended today, they would not catch up with whites for several hundred years!!1 Third, believing discrimination is a thing of the past helps whites reinforce their staunch opposition to all race-based compensatory programs. This story line, then, is used to deny the enduring effects of historic discrimination as well as to deny the significance of contemporary discrimination. Thus, when one considers the combined effects of historic and contemporary discrimination, the anchor holding minorities in place weighs a ton and cannot be easily dismissed.

“I Didn’t own Any Slaves”

The essence of the “I didn’t own any slaves” story line is that present generations are not responsible for the ills of slavery. This story line was used frequently in conjunction with the story line of “The past is the past,” but it was inserted less often (nine students and a third of DAS respondents). As with the previous story line, this one was usually invoked in discussions about affirmative action. For instance, Carol, a student at SU, said in response to the question on government intervention: “I mean, I almost kind of have the ‘what happened, happened attitude. You know, I mean, my generation certainly didn’t inflict any of this onto your generation, I mean, if anyone should pay it’s the generation that did the inflicting.” Because the generation who did the inflicting” is long gone, her suggestion would not have any impact on blacks today.

Lynn, an MU student, used the story line to explain her opposition to a hypothetical company hiring a black candidate over a white candidate because of past discrimination:

I think I would, I would, I’d disagree, I think. I mean, yeah, I think I’d disagree because, I mean, even though it’s kinda what affirmative action-well, it’s not really because I don’t think like my generation should have to-I mean, in a way, we should, but we shouldn’t be punished real harshly for the things that our ancestors did, on the one hand, but on the other hand, I think that now we should try and change the way we do things so that we aren’t doing the same things that our ancestors did.

Using the story line here gave credence to Lynn’s stance on this case because she had stated before she supported affirmative action and she realized that this case was “kinda what affirmative action” is. It also helped Lynn to regain her composure after a serious bout of rhetorical incoherence (“I think I would, I would, I’d disagree, I think. I mean, yeah, I think I’d disagree because, I mean”).

Finally, Sara, a student at SU, used the story line to state her view on government intervention on blacks’ behalf:

Hmm (long exhalation), maybe just-Well, I don’t know ’cause it seems like people are always wondering if, you know, do we, like do we as white people owe people as black something their ancestors were, you know, treated so badly. But then, I mean, it wasn’t really us that did that, so I don’t know. I mean, I think that the race or that culture should, you know, be paid back for something in some way. But I don’t think that … I don’t know (laughs).

DAS respondents used this story line in ways similar to students. For example, Dina, an employment manager for an advertising agency in her early thirties, used the story line to answer the question on government compensation to blacks for past discrimination:

No, and I, you know, I have to say that I’m pretty supportive of anything to help people, but I don’t know why that slavery thing has a—I’ve got a chip on my shoulder about that. It’s like it happened so long ago and you’ve got these sixteen-year-old kids saying, “Well, I deserve because great, great granddaddy was a slave.” Well, you know what, it doesn’t affect you. Me, as white person, had nothing to do with slavery. You, as a black person, you never experienced it. It was so long ago I just don’t see how that pertains to what’s happening to the race today so, you know, that’s one thing that I’m just like, “God, shut up!”

Roland, an electrical engineer in his forties, also used the story line to oppose the idea of reparations:

I think they’ve gotten enough. I don’t think we need to pay them anything or I think as long as they are afforded opportunities and avail themselves to the opportunities like everybody else, I, I don’t know why we should give them any reparation for something that happened, you know. … I can’t, I can’t help what happened in the 1400s, the 1500s, or the 1600s, when the blacks were brought over here and put into slavery. I mean, I had no control over that, neither did you, so I don’t think we should do anything as far as reparations are concerned.

Although most Detroit-area whites used this story line as part of their argumentative repertoire to explain their opposition to or doubts about affirmative action, occasionally they used them in odd places. For instance, Monica, a medical transcriber in her fifties with a strong commitment to the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious viewpoint, used the story line while discussing discrimination. After a long statement arguing that because of past discrimination, blacks developed a cultural outlook based on the idea that they can’t succeed because of discrimination, Monica then proceeded to argue, “It’s, it’s become such a mess and it’s perpetuated again by media and by these special interest groups. You and I aren’t responsible for what our ancestors did in slavery, that we didn’t initiate that slavery.”

As can be seen, these two story lines served whites as instruments to object to blacks’ demands for compensatory policies. Furthermore, they helped whites stand on a high moral ground while objecting to these policies. But, again, what is ideological about this particular story line? It is a fact that most whites did not participate directly!2 in slavery or came to the country years after slavery had ended. However, this story line ignores the fact that pro-white policies (“preferential treatment”) in jobs, housing, elections, and access to social space (“No blacks and Mexicans allowed here!”) have had (and continue to have) a positive multiplier effect for all those deemed “white.” Thus, not surprisingly, “suspect” racial groups such as the Irish, Italians, and Jews,14 among others, struggled to become “white” because by doing so, they could receive the manifold “wages of whiteness” (see chapter 1). Hence, the “It wasn’t me”15 approach of this story line does not fit the reality of how racial privilege operated and still operates in America. Although specific whites may not have participated directly in the overt discriminatory practices that injured blacks and other minorities in the past, they all have received unearned privileges16 by virtue of being regarded as “white” and have benefited from the various incarnations of white supremacy in the United States.” Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: Racism without Racists


  • If Obama and Oprah can make it…(Black exceptionalism)


  • Just because one person of color overcomes the odds doesn’t mean
    • They didn’t face racism and systemic oppression along the way
    • They didn’t have to work harder than white people at the same level
    • That other people of color can succeed in the face of systemic oppression too

John McCain Concession Speech Pushing the Post Racial Myth


  • Confederate flags and monuments is about heritage


  • Confederate flags and monuments are part of an effort to whitewash our history called the Lost Cause of the Confederacy which started after the Civil War to:
    • Sell a myth that slavery wasn’t that bad
    • Sell a myth that the South was fighting for states rights and not the right to continue slavery
    • Sell the myth that people who fought to enslave black people were heroes
  • Lost Cause efforts were used during civil rights periods to support white supremacy coded around “heritage”

Denial of responsibility for it


  • I don’t see race (color blind)


  • By saying you don’t see race you are denying the systemic racism people of color experience everyday.
  • You don’t see race because it doesn’t effect you
    • Doesn’t mean it doesn’t effect people of color


Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

1)            I’m Colorblind

“People are just people; I don’t see color; we’re all just human.” or “I don’t think of you as Chinese.” or “We all bleed red when we’re cut.” or “Character, not color, is what counts with me.”

Reality Check and Consequence

Statements like these assume that people of color are just like me, white; that they have the same dreams, standards, problems, peeves that I do. “Colorblindness” negates the cultural values, norms, expectations and life experiences of people of color, and most importantly, their experience as a target of racism. Even if an individual white person could ignore a person’s color, the society does not. By saying we are not different, that we don’t see their color, we are also saying we don’t see my white-ness. This denies their experience of racism and our experience of privilege.

“I’m colorblind” can also be a defense when afraid to discuss racism, especially if one assumes all conversation about race or color is racist. Speaking of another person’s color or culture is not necessarily racist or offensive. As one of my African American friends says, “I don’t mind that you notice I’m Black.” Color consciousness does not equal racism.

Everday Feminism: To White Feminists Who Don’t Want to Discuss Racism: Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know

  1. Being ‘Colorblind’ Isn’t Actually a Good Thing (Or a Real Thing, For That Matter)

I’m embarrassed to admit that “I don’t see race!” is something that I actually used to say (and aspire to make true). But it’s something that white people say all the time when the subject of race and racism comes up. Or maybe you’ve said, “We’re all one race: the human race.”

In theory, this sounds pretty good, right? And, while yes, you should see everyone the same when it comes to their humanity and their inherent value, being “colorblind” isn’t actually the same as not being racist (and, in fact, it actually is racist). And let’s just stop right here to acknowledge that it’s not just the concept of “colorblindness” that is problematic – the word itself is ableist language.

The first problem with colorblind ideology is that it’s, um, bullshit. Unless someone is physically blind, it’s not realistic to say that they just don’t notice the race of a person. When someone is in front of you, if you have the physical ability to see, you will notice what color their skin is.

But beyond the physical improbability of it, viewing someone completely devoid of racial context actually ignores the very real lived experience of the person standing in front of you. Someone’s race affects the way they move through the world, the way the world treats them, may reflect their culture, and cannot be separated from who they are as a person. It’s the same way that my identity as a woman influences who I am as a person and the way I’ve experienced and interacted with the world.

What Can You Do Instead?

Don’t judge people based on their race, but don’t invalidate their identity, either.  View them as whole, complete people, with many factors that contribute to who they are, with their race being one of them

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“Whiteness is not divorced from race, whiteness is not neutral, whiteness is loaded and always ready to fire, yet whiteness moves through the world claiming the exclusive right to wear the cloak labeled, “humanity” ••• We have all been conditioned within Anglo-normativity, white-normativity – in our education, in mainstream media and cultural production •• we have been miseducated as to who owns the voice of authority, the voice of logic, the voice of universal human experience, the voice of unbiased facts ••• we have associated “race” with non-whiteness, and a sense of racelessness with whiteness •• whiteness has been bestowed the whole universe of options unhampered by racial constraints ••• we were taught of whiteness as humanity, as simply a blank canvas, when in reality it has created and wielded the racial paintbrush against all ••• we must destroy and rebuild” @elwingbling

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  • I’m not racist, I have black friends
  • I voted for Obama


  • A lot of racism today is more about systems of oppression and internalizations that benefit white people while hurting people of color, regardless if white people want it or are even aware of it
    • Having a black friend or voting for a black president doesn’t remove these realities
    • Learn more about systemic racism

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

7)            Don’t Blame Me

“I never owned slaves.” or “I didn’t vote for David Duke.” or “None of my family joined the Klan.” or “I taught my children that racism is wrong.”

            Reality Check and Consequence

Often white people hear blame whenever the issue of racism is brought up,

whether or not blame has been placed on us. As beneficiaries of racism and white privilege, we sometimes strike a defensive posture even when we are not being individually blamed. We may personalize the remarks, put ourselves in the center, but most references to racism are not directed personally at us. It is the arrogance of our privilege, that drags the focus back to us.

When we are being blamed or personally accused of racist behavior, this defensiveness and denial further alienates us and probably precludes our examining our possible racist behavior.

12)            Innocence By Association

“I’m not racist, because… I have Vietnamese friends, or my lover is Black, or I marched with Dr. King.”

Reality Check and Consequence

(Perhaps, if every white person who says they marched with Dr. King actually had, the current situation would look different!)

This detour into denial wrongly equates personal interactions with people of color, no matter how intimate they may be, with anti-racism. There is an assumption that our personal associations free us magically from our racist conditioning.

“Phrases such as “I am not a racist” or “Some of my best friends are black” have become standard fare of post-civil rights racial discourse. They act as discursive buffers before or after someone states something that is or could be interpreted as racist. Therefore, it was not surprising to find that four students and ten DAS respondents used phrases such as “I’m not prejudiced, but in their answers. One example of how the respondents inserted this semantic move was Rhonda, a part-time employee in a jewelry store in her sixties. She used the move to safely express her highly racial views on why she thinks blacks are worse off than whites:

Well, I’m gonna be, you understand I’m, I’m (not) prejudice or racial or whatever. They’re always given the smut jobs because they would do it. Then they stopped, they stopped doing (them). The welfare system got to be very, very easy. And I’m not saying all, there’s many, many white people on welfare that shouldn’t be. But if you take the percentage in the Tri-city country area, you will find that the majority are white, but all you see is the black people on welfare. But it’s a graduation up. Thirty years ago they started it and they continued it, and they continued it, and they continued it. And it was easier to collect welfare from the state rather than go out and get a job. Why work if, if they gonna, if the government’s gonna take care of you?

After Rhonda stated that, “I’m, I’m (not) prejudice or racial or whatever,” she then gave her account on how she believes the welfare state has spoiled blacks. The ideological value of the “I am not a racist, but” move is clear here.

The phrase “Some of my best friends are ..or its equivalent was used by eight students and twelve DAS respondents. Surprisingly, many respondents used it to refer to their Asian friends. For example, Eric, a student at MU, used this phrase after revealing that most of his friends while growing up were white.” Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: Racism without Racists


  • My ancestors never owned slaves


  • “Even if your relatives didn’t own slaves or weren’t in the US during slavery
    • you’re still benefiting from a white supremacy society with a racial hierarchy built from slavery to continue benefiting white people at the expense of people of color


  • I’m not a racist
  • He has good intentions


  • White people have been sold a watered down definition of racism for the last half century.  That racism invovled bad people who have hate in their hearts and want to harm other races.  The reality is most racism in this country occurrs unconsciously by good people, regardless of our intentions.  We were all born into a country founded on white supremacy. Its a waste of time to think we are not apart of this.  A better use of time is learning how to dismantle the racism we were born into.


  • I’m not political


  • Politics and political opinions may seem trivial to you but its survival for others. 
  • Its a white privilege to not have to worry about your life and livihood every election.
  • Its white privilege to summarize oppression as a “difference of opinion”

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Vox:No, really, George W. Bush lied about WMDs

: Nobody Should Be Friends With George W. Bush

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  • Its just my opinion
    • Difference of an opinion/belief


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Its my opinion excuse

  • Belief that assigning value to people’s lives can be an “opinion” and not a “morality”
    • For example voting for a political party that is separating asylum seeking families of color is a difference of “opinion”
      • and not a judgment of your “morality”

“If your “personal opinion” has the consequence of erasing or minimizing the realities, dignities or livelihood of others— I’ve no interest in discussion. I will not be “open minded” to your violent bullshit.” Rachel Cargle – Activist

“You have a right to your own opinion. You do not have a right to ignorance. If you’re not sure which side of the line you’re on, ask yourself if you’ve spent more time talking about it than reading about it.” The Badger Harald: ‘It’s my opinion’ is no acceptable excuse for intolerance


  • Its my freedom to…

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  • Not all white people…


  • When you say “not all white people” you’re minimizing the harm people of color feel.  Regardless if white people do certain actions all white people are born in a white supremacy world that benefits them and hurts people of color. To downplay this reality by discussing a few specific actions that each white person does or doesn’t do minimizes the reality.  There are no “good ones” and “bad ones” when it comes to white supremacy.  Just systems and internalizations we all need to confront.
  • Saying “Not all white people” centeres the conservation not on the harm being done to a person of color but the feelings of a white person
  • “While individual people contribute to racism, the problem isn’t actually about me or you as people. It’s about larger systems that are at play. Making it about you (or me) distracts from the very real, very important issue at hand. It centers whiteness in a conversation about people of color.” Britni de la Cretaz, To White Feminists Who Don’t Want to Discuss Racism: Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know

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For more White Supremacy Responses by SURJ and illustrative designer Rachel Ashley-Lovelace

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Everday Feminism: To White Feminists Who Don’t Want to Discuss Racism: Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know

  1. Refrain from #NotAllWhitePeople-ing

Have you ever read an article or a comment thread where people of color are calling out this really racist thing that white people do, and found yourself getting really uncomfortable? I have. It’s a terrible feeling, and one that makes me want to get really, really defensive and yell, “But I don’t do that!” I want people to know that I’m a good person, and I’m not racist.

But what I’ve learned is that feeling of discomfort is actually my white privilege being challenged. And sitting with that discomfort is necessary for growth. And racism is systemic. While individual people contribute to racism, the problem isn’t actually about me or you as people. It’s about larger systems that are at play.

Making it about you (or me) distracts from the very real, very important issue at hand. It centers whiteness in a conversation about people of color.

What Can You Do Instead?

If you feel yourself getting defensive or wanting to #NotAllWhitePeople in the comments, that’s a great time to just. not. say. anything. Seriously. Shut up, sit down, and listen.

I know how hard that is. As white people, we’re often socialized to think that our words and thoughts have more value than anyone else’s, but that’s not true. That’s white supremacy at work. And undoing that conditioning is hard, but we have to be willing to do hard things if we hope to help dismantle racist systems.

Not all white people? Reverse racism? Seriously? | Riley J. Dennis

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  • I’m not racist but…


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Further Readings

Shae Collins: 3 Types of Racists That Are More Dangerous Than What You Think a Racist Looks Like

Back to Top


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Source: the.mirror

Playing down the damage


  • Racism isn’t a big problem anymore
  • It’s not that bad
    • There are worst places in the world


  • The Median wealth of Black families is 2% the median wealth of white families, non-white school districts get $23 Billion less funding than white ones, and black people make up 13% of population but 40% of prison population.  Racism is still a problem.
  • Just because you’re segregated from the negative realities of racism doesn’t mean its not a problem anymore.
  • If you’re child had to endure being treated unjustly on a daily basis because of the color of her skin you may think its actually “that bad”

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

9. We Have Overcome

“We dealt with racism in the 60’s with all the marches, sit-ins and speeches by Dr. King. Laws have been changed. Segregation and lynching are ended. We have some details to work out but real racism is pretty much a thing of the past.”

            Reality Check and Consequence

The absence of legalized, enforced segregation does not equal the end of racism. This denial of contemporary racism, based on inaccurate assessment of both history and current society, romanticizes the past and diminishes today’s reality.

We just have to look at the volcanic rise of racist hate groups during the campaign and since the election of President Barack Obama, to know racism is alive and well in the United States.


  • Its just a joke! Lighten up!
    • Don’t take things so personal


  • Its not a joke when people are suffering
  • Making something funny doesn’t erase the harm being done
  • If it was your child suffering would it still be funny to you?

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

6)            Lighten Up (lighten? whiten?)

“Black people are just are too sensitive and thin-skinned.” or “Indians should get a sense of humor. We’re just kidding around.” or “I didn’t mean anything racist, it’s just a joke.”

Reality Check and Consequence

Here are racism and agent deletion in partnership again. The problem and perpetrators are exonerated, because the rationale declares that humor isn’t hurtful. This form of denial serves most to trivialize the pain and reality of daily racism.


  • Be grateful
    • Love it or leave it


  • Its hard to be grateful when harm is still being done
  • I’m grateful for the progress that has been done and I’m going to honor that progress by using it to fight for equality
  • I can love this country and fight injustice at the same time. One has nothing to do with the other. 
  • What I love most about this country is I have the freedom and constitutional right  to fight against oppression.



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Further Readings


  • We’ve been through worst
    • We’ve made it through worst times…


  • A lot of marginalized people didn’t make it through those times. I’m not worried about myself. I’m worried about the marginalized people who won’t make it this time.

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  • Making excuses for racist family members
  • That was the norm back in the day
    • Presentism


  • I’m not concern about how it was. I’m concern about the harm being done now.
  • There’s no past experience or situation that justifies continuing harm in the present
  • Humanity, compassion, empathy wasn’t invented recently.
  • If they can learn how to operate an iphone they can learn how to not support racism.

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Source: elwingbling

Spiritual bypassing


  • We’re all one race – human race
  • Love not hate, Love conquers all
  • Just focus on being more positive


  • Positivity and love isn’t going to change the harm being done.  Only institutional and cultural change.
  • Job applicants with white-sounding names get called back about 50% more than applicants with black-sounding names.  I don’t think they cared how positive black people were.
  • This is a form of respectability politics and victim blaming that blames the suffering of people of color on their actions (ie not being positive enough)
  • Would you be less positive if you had to watch your child suffer every day due to racism?


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“The easiest way for white women to skirt around the realities of racism is to just “love and light it away”. When confronted with ways they have offended a marginalized group with their words or actions, they immediately start to demand unity and peace; painting those they harmed as aggressive, mean, or divisive” Rachel Cargle, Harpers Bazaar, When Feminism Is White Supremacy in Heels

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Dismantling Racism: Dynamics of Denial and Resistance 

BLAME | justifying oppression, blaming the victims of oppression for it | Look at the way they act. If they weren’t so angry… Women are too emotional.

Justifying oppression/Blaming the victims of oppression
(Victim Blaming)


  • Must have done something to deserve police brutality
  • Should have follow the police’s commands better
  • If black people just acted better they could rise above oppression (Respectability Politics)
  • Black people are poor because their not trying hard enough


  • There is no crime or criminality record that requires police brutality or murder by police without trial.
  • When you live in a society that has institutions based on benefiting white people while oppressing people of color sometimes “trying” can only get you so far.
  • Its myth to say there’s a way that black people can act that won’t incur racism.  Very nice, very respectful black people are subject to racism every day. 
  • White supremacy doesn’t care if the person of color is nice or a hard worker. 

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

2)            The Rugged Individual, the Level Playing Field and the Bootstrap Theory

“America is the land of opportunity, built by rugged individuals, where anyone with grit can succeed if they just pull up hard enough on their bootstraps.”

Reality Check and Consequence

These are three of the crown jewels of U. S. social propaganda. They have allowed generation after generation to say, “If you succeed, you did that, but if you fail, or if you’re poor, that’s your fault.” Belief in this propaganda is founded in a total denial of the impact of either oppression or privilege on any person’s chance for success.

Attacks on programs like affirmative action find rationalization in the belief that the playing field is now level, that is, that every individual, regardless of color (or gender or disability, etc.) has the same access to the rights, benefits and responsibilities of the society. The rationalization continues: since slavery is ended and people of color have civil rights, the playing field has now been leveled. It follows then, that there is no reason for a person of color to “fail” (whether manifested in low SAT scores or small numbers in management positions) EXCEPT individual character flaws or cultural inadequacies. This form of denial asserts that such “failures” could have no roots in racism and internalized racism.

The consequences include “justified” victim blaming, and denial of the daily impact of generations of institutionalized racism and white privilege.

4)            Blame The Victim

“It’s their fault they can’t get a job, or be managers.” or “We have advertised everywhere, there just aren’t any qualified people of color for this job.” or “If he only worked harder, applied himself more, or had a stronger work ethic.” or

“If she just felt better about herself…” or “Internalized racism is the real problem here.” or “She uses racism as an excuse, to divert us from her incompetence.” and “If he didn’t go looking for racism everywhere…” (As if racism is so hidden or difficult to uncover that people of color would have to search for it.)

Reality Check and Consequence

All “blame the victim” behaviors have two things in common. First, they evade the real problem: racism. Second, they delete from the picture the agents of racism, white people and institutions, who either intentionally perpetuate or unintentionally collude with racism. (Similar to agent deletion in discussions of rape. Most statements refer to a woman being raped, focus on her clothing or behavior at the time of the rape and delete the male rapist from the picture.) As long as the focus remains on people of color we can minimize or dismiss their reactions, and never have to look directly at racism and our own responsibility or collusion.

Respectability Politics

  • False claims that if only POC acted a certain way things would be better
    • Ignores systemic racism, implicit bias, white supremacy, US history, etc.
  • Personal responsibility myth, bootstrap theory
    • People of color just need to try harder
  • Divided myth, tribal myth, white moderate
    • “…more concerned about tranquility & status quo than justice & humanity” MLK Jr
  • Civility, tone-policing, spiritual bypassing, gas lighting, universalism
    • Politeness is often behavioral expectations enforced on the marginalized
      • Nice does not equal not racist
    • All you need is love, we’re all one people
      • Denying systems of racism and bypassing real anti-racism work
    • Equating legitimate hurt/anger from injustices with abuse of oppressor
      • Equating anger to hate, Don’t fight hate with hate
    • White discomfort
      • I don’t care about your experience with oppression as much as my feeling of discomfort


  • Black people suffer because their families are dysfunctional (Missing Black Father Myth)
    • Absent black father


  • The absent black father was an excuse created in the 1960s to blame racism on black people.  It was based on the idea that if a black father wasn’t married or living in the same house he must be absent.  In reality we now know from many studies that although more black fathers arent married or may not live in the same house as white fathers, they are just as much present in their children’s lives if not more.
  • Reality is black fathers are just as present in

The Myth Of The Absent Black Father| AJ+


Source: CDC Study: Fathers’InvolvementWithTheirChildren:UnitedStates,2006–2010

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 7.27.18 PMSource: elwingbling


  • What about black on black crime


  • Crimimals and victims are most oftent the same race for all races.  Most white crimes are committed by white people.  Latinx crimes committed by other Latinx people.  etc.  This is largely due to high levels of racial segregation.  But its only ever brought up by people trying to dismiss police brutality against black people.  Black on black crimes is pushed as a justificaiton or minimizations of racist police brutality. It pushes the stereotype that black people are all criminals that deserve what they get.
  • No one ever says white on white crimes, etc.

77343801_1815426455268806_3136889927967440896_nSource: Racial Battle Fatigue


  • Playing the race card


  • This excuse assumes that systemic racism doesn’t exist, or at least anymore, and if a person of color mentions it its only to create an excuse or an advantage.  And not that they may actually be experiencing racism.

The New Republic: The Myth of the “Race Card”

“The term “race card” is always evoked as an accusation, implying that black people are playing a game when we mention race in conversation. As the metaphor goes, the race card is a supposed trump card that’s used to shut down a conversation, to win some sort of rhetorical victory. But when you’re black in America, race is not just one card in a hand that can be played or not; it’s an integral part of our identity, as inextricable as our nationality, if not more so. So when a white person antagonizes us, we cannot ignore the fact of our skin color or the way our country has treated people of that skin color since its inception.”

New York Times: Stop Playing the ‘Race Card’ Card

The truth is that the people who accuse others — without a shred of evidence — of “playing the race card,” claiming that the accusations of racism are so exaggerated as to dull the meaning of the term, are themselves playing a card. It is a privileged attempt at dismissal.

They seek to do the very thing they condemn: shut down the debate with a scalding-hot charge.


  • You’re not helping your cause by being aggressive/angry (Tone Policing)
  • You need to be more civil if you want to be heard.


  • If the harm I’m experiencing was being done to you or someone you loved would you find it hard to not react?
  • Does reacting to oppression make the oppression any different?
  • Does me having a natural reaction to my oppression make you uncomfortable?
  • What you’re communicating to me right now is that you care more about being comfortable than the oppression I’m experiencing. 
  • Please understand marginalized people often do not have the luxury of emotionally distancing themselves from discussions on their rights and experiences. 


“Tone policing, simply put, is the dismissal of a person’s argument (generally a less-privileged person in social justice discourse) because of their tone, which may be perceived by the bigoted more-privileged person as ‘too personal,’ ‘too emotional’ or ‘too angry.’ Meanwhile, the oversensitivity argument basically amounts to the bigoted more-privileged person telling the less-privileged person to suck it up and deal with the abuse the hierarchy deals out. Put together, these things add up to a massive display of double standards. ‘I shouldn’t have to deal with your [justified] anger/pain, but you should just sit back and take my [unjustified] bigotry.” Anger is Justified

Reasons why Tone Policing is Bad

  • Being emotional does not make one’s points any less valid
  • Anger is valid, anger is important, anger brings social change
    • Anger is NOT counterproductive; anger is NOT hate
  • Politeness is often behavioral expectations enforced upon marginalized people
  • What it really communicates,
    • “I don’t care about your experience with oppression or how it makes you feel. I only care about how it is discomfiting for me to hear about it.”

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Too Young for the Living Dead:  This is a post about tone policing

“I’ve been seeing an awful lot of tone policing on my dash lately. It seems a lot of people don’t really understand why someone would respond aggressively or angrily, or otherwise emotionally, to having something really fucked up/hurtful/oppressive said to them. Or, they think it’s counterproductive to respond in that way.

First off, the reason that people may respond in a “harsh” manner to oppression: Living in a world that reminds you daily of your lesser worth as a human being can make a person very tired and emotional. When someone says something oppressive — that can be a racist slur, an ableist stereotype, a misogynist dismissal, an invalidation of identity/experiences, being asked invasive and entitled questions, and so on – it feels like being slapped in the face, to the person on the receiving end. The automatic response is emotion and pain. It’s quite exhausting and difficult to restrain the resulting anger. And, frankly, it’s cruel and ridiculous to expect a person to be calm and polite in response to an act of oppression. Marginalized people often do not have the luxury of emotionally distancing themselves from discussions on their rights and experiences. 

Second, tone policing is the ultimate derailing tactic. When you tone police, you automatically shift the focus of the conversation away from what you or someone else did that was wrong, and onto the other person and their reaction. Tone policing is a way of not taking responsibility for fucking up, and it dismisses the other person’s position by framing it as being emotional and therefore irrational. The conflation of emotionality with irrationality is often used to silence women and people who are read as women, when they are trying to speak about anything at all. It’s also used against all marginalized people when they attempt to speak about their very personal experiences with oppression. But being emotional does not make one’s points any less valid. It’s also important to note that, by tone policing, you not only refuse to examine your own oppressive behavior, but you also can blame that on the other person, because they were not “nice enough” to be listened to or taken seriously.

Third, the implications: Tone policing assumes that the oppressive act is not an act of aggression, when it very much is. The person who was oppressed by the action, suddenly is no longer a victim, but is “victimizing” the other person by calling them out. Now, I’m not saying it’s okay to be abusive, or oppressive in response to a person who fucks up. But anger is valid. Anger is valid, anger is important, anger brings social change, anger makes people listen, anger is threatening, and anger is passion. Anger is NOT counterproductive; being “nice” is counterproductive. Nobody was ever given rights by politely asking for them. Politeness is nothing but a set of behavioral expectations that is enforced upon marginalized people.

If you see someone who is angry and upset about something that was said or done to them, don’t tell them they should be nicer. Instead: Recognize their emotions as valid. Recognize that their emotional state is an indication that something extremely harmful was done to them, whether it was by you, or someone else. Work to understand why the action was oppressive. Take all that energy that you’re wasting being so concerned with how people are responding to their own oppression, and channel it into fighting oppression.”

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Further Readings about Tone Policing


  • We’re a nation of laws
    • Believe in our due process
    • Lady justice is blind


  • In this country people of color are more likely to be stopped by police, experience police brutality, arrested, convicted by juries, and given longer sentences by judges for the same crimes as white people. 
  • As long as theirs implicit racial bias and systemic racism Lady Justice will never be blind
  • Laws often treat people differently
  • The legacy of institutionalized racism has left its indelible mark on the U. S. legal system. Even when individual police officers, judges or juries strive to be fair and unbiased, the system itself has been corrupted by centuries of racism. “Innocent until proven guilty” may be turned to “guilty until proven innocent” for too many people of color who enter the legal system.

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

11)            Due Process

“Lady Justice is [color] blind.” White parents who tell their children, “The police are here to protect you. If they ever stop you, just be polite and tell the truth.” Then when a Black teen is beaten or killed by police, those same parents say, “He must have been doing something wrong, to provoke that kind of police response.”

Reality Check and Consequence

Many white people believe that the police, courts, the legal system and social services work without bias; that due process, fair trials, juries, judges, police officers and case workers have everyone’s best interest at heart, including people of color. Or at least, no less than they do for white people. This belief clouds reality. We tend to look at isolated incidents rather than the patterns of institutionalized oppression.

The legacy of institutionalized racism has left its indelible mark on the U. S. legal system. Even when individual police officers, judges or juries strive to be fair and unbiased, the system itself has been corrupted by centuries of racism. “Innocent until proven guilty” may be turned to “guilty until proven innocent” for too many people of color who enter the legal system.

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Lack of Intent/strong>

Claims racism must be intentional
(intent vs outcome)


  • He had good intentions
  • I didn’t mean it like that
  • But he’s a good person/good people can’t be racist (good/bad racism binary)
  • It was only a joke


  • You don’t have to be bad to cause racism.  Good people are capable of racism.  Racism isn’t who we are. Its something we’re doing in the moment that is disproportionately affecting people of color.  And we’re capable of changing that at any time as long as people can help you understand the impact of your actions.
  • We’re often unconscious of our racism. We often don’t intend to be racist either.  But regardless if its intention or if we’re aware of it, the racism is still there. And often times we all need help seeing it in order to change it.
  • Even if it wasn’t meant to be racist the impact was racism. 

Huff Post: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

The Good/Bad Binary: The most effective adaptation of racism over time is the idea that racism is conscious bias held by mean people. If we are not aware of having negative thoughts about people of color, don’t tell racist jokes, are nice people, and even have friends of color, then we cannot be racist. Thus, a person is either racist or not racist; if a person is racist, that person is bad; if a person is not racist, that person is good. Although racism does of course occur in individual acts, these acts are part of a larger system that we all participate in. The focus on individual incidences prevents the analysis that is necessary in order to challenge this larger system. The good/bad binary is the fundamental misunderstanding driving white defensiveness about being connected to racism. We simply do not understand how socialization and implicit bias work.


“The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.” Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

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“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Impact over intention all day everyday. Ya dig? Especially my fair skin friends.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
You may not intend to cause harm, you may authentically intend to AVOID harm, but in the end your intention might not mean ish. Have you ever been in a car accident? If you crashed into a person and left them bloodied and bruised would you get out of the car and proclaim “I didn’t intend to harm you!” then ignore the pain you’d caused? I sure as heck hope not! And I doubt you’d appreciate if someone tried that on you. Same here my sweets. Whether you intended to cause harm or not is truly not the point. The point is that you did. Period.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
POCs have to swim through swamps of murky micro aggressions, nevermind blatant racist violence, all day everyday. Do I believe the vast majority of folks who perpetuate emotional violence intend to cause me harm? No. I do not. Do I still have to spend an exorbitant amount of time, money and energy healing my heart from all the pain incessantly inflicted upon me by “well intentioned white folx”. I sure AF do⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
So! The next time someone calls you out or in, please take a breath. LISTEN to what’s being said. Believe them. Challenge your inner ego’s tempting whispers to defend, deny, object. APOLOGIZE. Take ownership and examine why you did or said what you did (or failed to do so). And understand that your intention is irrelevant. F.Y.I. Actions matter. Impact is everything.” iamrachelricketts⠀⠀⠀

5 Things You Should Know About Racism | Decoded | MTV News

Intent vs Impact Section: 1:20-2:10

Listen. Reflect. Apologize. Do Better.

It doesn’t matter whether we, deep down, believe ourselves to be __________-ist or whether we intended our actions to be hurtful or _________-ist.


If the impact of our actions is the furthering of oppression, then that’s all that matters.

So we need to listen, reflect, apologize, and work to do better in the future.

What does that look like?

Well, to start, we can actually apologize.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of hearing the ““I am sorry your face got in the way of my Frisbee! I never intended to hit you” apologies.

Whether it’s Paula Deen weeping on TV or Alec Baldwin asking us to simply trust that he’s not a “homophobe,” those are not apologies.

That’s why I was incredibly inspired and relieved to see a major organization do it well when Kickstarter apologized and took full responsibility for their role in funding a creepy, rapey seduction guide.

They apologized earnestly and accepted the role they played in something really terrible. hey pledged to never allow projects like this one to be funded in the future. And then they donated $25,000 to RAINN.

At the interpersonal level, we can take a cue from Kickstarter.

When we are told that the impact of our action, inaction, or words is hurtful and furthers oppression, we can start by apologizing without any caveats.

From there, we can spend the time to reflect in hopes of gaining at least some understanding (however marginal) of the harmful impact.

And we can do our best to move forward by acting more accountably.

Ibram Kendi is a professor and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University Explains Racism

Competing Victimization

Dismantling Racism: Dynamics of Denial and Resistance 

COMPETING VICTIMIZATION | claiming that targets of oppression have so much power that we are threatened | Women really have all the power. We just want our rights too. They’re taking away our jobs. White people are under attack.

Claiming that targets of oppression have so much power that we are threatened


  • All Lives Matter


  • Black Lives Matter movement isn’t trying to say “only” black lives matter.  They’re saying black lives matter too. Which isn’t often a reality in the US. No one is saying white people’s lives don’t matter. 
  • One of the many reasons the Black Lives Matter movement is so important today is not that most white people in the US are openly racist (although many are), rather most white people know explicit racism is wrong (n-word, KKK, etc.) while unconsciously devaluing the lives and suffering of millions of people of color to the point that they aren’t even a consideration when discussing or acting on things like voting, housing, hiring practices, schools, history curriculum, safety, criminal justice system, etc.

All Lives Matter Myth

“Black people, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of being “colorblind.” They live in a culture which constantly reminds them of their Black-ness, which tells them in a million large and small ways that they are not as important as white people, that their lives actually do not matter as much as white lives. Which is why saying “Black Lives Matter” is so important.

“All Lives Matter” is a problem because it refocuses the issue away from systemic racism and Black lives. It distracts and diminishes the message that Black lives matter or that they should matter more than they do. “All Lives Matter” is really code for “White Lives Matter,” because when white people think about “all lives,” we automatically think about “all white lives.”

We need to say “Black Lives Matter,” because we’re not living it. No one is questioning whether white lives matter or whether police lives matter. But the question of whether Black lives really matter is an open question in this country.” John Halstead

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White Lives Matter

The major difference:

Black Lives Matter (Too)
White Lives Matter (More)

Remember that.

— X (@XLNB) August 22, 2016

Here’s the problem with “White Lives Matter”

Black Lives Matter = Fight for equality

White Lives Matter = Fight for superiority

— Ugene’s Politics (@UgenesPolitics) August 22, 2016

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  • The Irish were oppressed too


  • The Irish were never slaves.
  • The Irish was eventually allowed to become white in exchange for continuing the oppression of black people.  Black people have never escaped their oppression.

“If Jews, Italians, and Irish Have Made It, How Come Blacks Have Not?”

Another story line that has become quite popular is “If (ethnic groups such as Japanese, Chinese, Jews, and Irish) have made it, how come blacks have not?”

This story line is used by whites to suggest blacks’ status in America is their own doing, because other groups who experienced discrimination in the past are doing quite well today. Few college students, but ten DAS respondents, used this story line. However, it is important to point out that 35 percent of the students agreed with the premise of this story line when it was asked in the survey.

One example of a student who used this story line is Kim, a student at SU. She inserted a version of the story line in combination with the “the past is the past” story line to explain why she does not favor government intervention on behalf of minorities:

Um no. I think that, you know, a lot of bad things happened to a lot of people, but you can’t sit there and dwell on that. I mean, like the Jewish people, look what happened to them. You know, do you hear them sitting around complaining about it, you know, and attributing, you know, anything bad that happens to them? I’ve never heard anyone say, “Oh, it’s because I’m Jewish.” You know, and I know it’s a little different because, you know, a black, I mean, you can’t really, a lot of, you can’t really tell on the outside a lot of times, but, I mean, they don’t wallow in what happened to them a long time ago. I mean, it was a horrible thing, I admit, but I think that you need to move on and try to put that behind, you know, put that behind you.

Although DAS respondents were more likely than students to use this story line, they did not use it as frequently as they did the previous two. An example of how they used this story line was provided by Henrietta, a transsexual school teacher in her fifties. Henrietta used the story line in her answer to the question on government spending on blacks’ behalf:

[Five-second pause] As a person who was once reversed discriminated against, I would have to say no. Because the government does not need programs if they, if people would be motivated to bring themselves out of the poverty level. When we talk about certain programs, when the Irish came over, when the Italians, the Polish, and the East European Jews, they all were immigrants who lived in terrible conditions, who worked in terrible conditions, too. But they had one thing in common: they all knew that education was the way out of that poverty. And they did it. I’m not saying the blacks were brought over here maybe not willingly, but if they realize education’s the key, that’s it. And that’s based on individuality.

Mandy, a registered nurse in her forties, used the story line to address the issue of whether or not blacks’ standing in this country is due to of their values and laziness:

Mandy: Generally, I think that’s probably true. Now are you talking about all minorities? [Interviewer: Umhumm.] ‘Cause I don’t—when you look at the people coming from Asia, Japan, and China … they’re making the honor roll. When

you look at the honor roll here in Rochester, they’re all foreign names. You know, sotne of those kids from minority families figured out that they had to work and strive and work harder if they were going to make it all the way to the top.

Interviewer Okay. So you’re saying that you would classify minorities by race and go from there?

Mandy: Not all minorities are lazy and lay on the couch all the time.

This story line equates the experiences of immigrant groups with that of involuntary “immigrants” (such as enslaved Africans). But as Stephen Steinberg has perceptively pointed out in his The Ethnic Myth, most immigrant groups were able to get a foothold on certain economic niches or used resources such as an education or small amounts of capital to achieve social mobility. “In contrast, racial minorities were for the most part relegated to the preindustrial sectors of the national economy and, until the flow of immigration was cut off by the Pirst World War, were denied access to the industrial jobs that lured tens of millions of immigrants. All groups started at the bottom, but as Blauner points out, the bottom’ has by no means been the same for all wroups “i? Thus, comparing these groups, as this story line does, is comparing apples and pears as a way to “blame the victims” (many minority groups).” Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: Racism without Racists


  • White people are discriminated against too


  • Yes white people can be discriminated against.  And all discrimination sucks. But for white people there is no systems of racism that can back up their discrimination, making it something much worse.


  • People of color have it easier than white people these days
  • Women really have all the power
  • They’re taking away our jobs
  • White people are under attack


  • Even with affirmative action and civil rights protections is still harder for a person of color to get a job, get accepted to college, or to be treated equally.
    • Its harder for people of color with no criminal record to get a job than a white person convicted of a felon.

“Equality feels like oppresion to those who have always been privilege” Rachel Elizabeth Cargle


White People Will Always Be Fine | Op-Ed | NowThis

Privilege as a Zero-Sum Game  and the Misunderstanding of Affirmative Action

“to the extent that white people believe that racism against blacks has decreased, they also believe that racism against whites has increased. They really see it as kind of a fixed pie of resources, a zero-sum game. One job for a black person equals one job that a white person didn’t get” Michael Norton, Harvard

“When a person of color receives a benefit, like a scholarship, it feels like feels like something is taken away from white people” MTV Look Different: White People

  • 21 million people apply for financial aid every year
    • Among undergraduate college students
      • 62% are white students but receive 69% of private scholarships
      • 38% are minorities but receive 31% of private scholarships
    • Even with affirmative action
      • Whites students 40% more likely receive financial aid
      • Blacks and Hispanics are more underrepresented at top colleges than 35 years ago

Affirmative Action

  • Policy that ensures qualified minority applicants
    • Are given the same employment and college opportunities as white people
  • It is a flexible program:
    • No quotas or preferential treatment for people of color
    • No one is required to hire/accept an unqualified person of color
  • Companies and schools are suppose to explain why they didn’t hire/accept a qualified applicant of color
    • Rarely ever enforced
    • Only applied to public companies and college
  • White women have been the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action

“I Did Not Get a Job (or a Promotion), or Was Not Admitted to a College, Because of a Minority”

from Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: Racism without Racists

This story line is extremely useful to whites rhetorically and psychologically. When whites do not get a job or promotion, it must be because of a minority. If they are not admitted into a college, it must be because of a thinority. This story line allows whites to never consider the possibility that they are not qualified for a job, promotion, or college. Curiously, the number of actual cases filed on reverse discrimination before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is quite small and the immense majority of them are dismissed as lacking any foundation, 18Furthermore, as I will show, most versions of this story line lack substance, are based on limited data, and rely on less than credible information.” This lack of specificity, however, does not detract from the usefulness of this story line, since its sense of veracity is not based on facts, but on commonly held beliefs by whites. Hence, when whites use this story line, precise information need not be included. And because this story line is built upon a personal moral tale, many whites vent personal frustrations or resentment toward minorities while using it.

Almost a quarter of the students (ten of forty-one) and more than a third of the DAS respondents used this story line. For instance, Bob, the SU student cited above, opposed providing unique opportunities to minorities to be admitted into universities. After anchoring his view in the abstract liberalism frame (“you should be judged on your qualifications, your experience, your education, your background, not of your race”), Bob added,

I had a friend, he wasn’t–I don’t like him that much, I think it’s my brother’s friend, a good friend of my brother’s, who didn’t get into law school here and he knows for a fact that other students less qualified than him did. And that really, and he was considering a lawsuit against the school. But for some reason, he didn’t. He had better grades, better LSAT, better everything, and he-other people got in up above him, I don’t care who it is, if it’s Eskimo, or Australian, or what it is, you should have the best person there.

This is a classic example of this story line. Bob “had a friend” (who was not his friend, but his brother’s friend and whom he did not “like that much”) who claimed to know “for a fact” (facts he never documents) that minority students who were less qualified than his brother20 were admitted into SU Law School. Bob uses the story line here to reinforce his view that admission to colleges ought to be strictly based on merits.

Kara, a student from MU, inserted the story line when she was asked if she had been a victim of “reverse discrimination”:

I think applying to schools. I know a couple of people, like, schools like Notre Dame that are, you know, very, like, competitive to get into. Like, I was put on the wait list where this kid in my school who was black was admitted and, like, for me, you know, like, I almost had a four point, you know, I did well on my SATs, and he was kind of a slacker, grade-point wise, and I always thought it could have been something else, but it didn’t make sense to me and that was the only thing I could put it to.

When asked if she knew of other cases of “reverse discrimination.” Kara added, “Yeah, especially my friends that applied to the Ivy League schools.” They really felt that they were discriminated against.

Kara claims that while she was not admitted to Notre Dame, a black “kid” in her school who was “kind of a slacker” was. She believes the only logical explanation for this is “reverse discrimination” and that many of her friends experienced it, too. But we do not get any data on how she did on her SAT (she reports doing “well,” but does not indicate her score) and, more significantly, we get absolutely no information on how well the black student did on the SAT. Regarding her friends’ claims, Kara provides even less information.

This story line was also important for white DAS respondents, since more than a third of them used it. One example is Ann, a young, unemployed woman. She used the story line in her answer to the question, “Do you think that being white is an advantage or a disadvantage in contemporary America?”:

No. It’s, I don’t know. (Interviewer: Why do you think that?] I don’t know it’s (laughs), it’s weird because my friend that is there, she went for a job interview with two of her white girlfriends. It was her and those three white females and the rest were black. Well, when they were done with the testing they took their scores and they all had the same scores, the three white girls. And they come out and they hire, they said that the two white girls didn’t pass their math test, but they said that she passed hers and then they hired her.

Ann claims that a black friend of hers experienced preferential treatment in a job search. As usual in the iterations of this story line, the story is very fuzzy and refers to third parties. In Ann’s narrative it is very difficult to assess any of the particularities of the case. How many people went for the job? How many tests did they take? What scores did all the applicants get? Were the applicants interviewed after they were tested? What kind of job were they applying for? The answers to all these questions are uncertain.

Marie, a homemaker in her late thirties, used the story line to explain her position on affirmative action:

Ah, I’m puzzled a little bit by that. I’m for making sure everybody gets equal opportunity. I think that there are points, though, where it is inappropriate. Just as an example, my sister has a good student that applied for a teaching position at a university and was told that she was one of three final candidates for the position, but the other two candidates, one was a Mexican American and the other was a black female. Unless she could prove she had some active minority in her background, she could not be considered for the position because they had to hire a minority.

Although Marie’s story seems more robust than usual, the details do not square with what we know of the academic job market. First, based on the peculiar list of final candidates (peculiar because it is very unusual to have two minority scholars as finalists in a job search), it seems this job required expertise on racial matters. This does not disqualify the white applicant, but it adds some complexity to the story. Second, the argument that she had to prove some minority background to qualify for this position (after she made the final cut) is not credible. Had that been the case, this applicant could have successfully sued this university for discrimination. An alternative reading of the events is that this white applicant lost out to a minority candidate and explained this to herself, her professor, and her peers as many whites do, case of reverse discrimination.

Many of the workers in the sample vented lots of anger against what regarded as “preferential treatment” for minorities, although few knew affirmative action was. Not surprisingly, many used the story line in its generic sense. The following two cases illustrate my point. First is Darren, bus driver in his late forties. He opposed affirmative action by stating that “two wrongs don’t make a right” and used the story line to supply evidence on which to base his opinion:

Ah no, other than I have applied at jobs and been turned down because I was white. Now, I have nothing against the black person [if he) was qualified better than I was. But when the guy comes into the interview and I’m off on the side and I can hear them talking and he can’t even speak good English, he doesn’t know how to read a map, and they’re gonna make him a bus driver and hire him over me. I’ve been doing bus driving off and on since 1973 and I know the guy well enough that [I know] he’s a lousy driver. I know why he got the job, and I don’t think that’s fair.

Darren believed he was turned down for a job as a bus driver because he was white. Furthermore, he claimed that he overheard the interview and that his black competitor could not even speak good English” But his story is as loose as the others. Both applicants now work in the same company, which suggests Darren got the job there at some point in time. And Darren failed to mention two other factors that may account-besides driving skills, which we cannot ascertain based on the information he provided-for why this other driver may have gotten the job before Darren did. First, this company is located in Detroit and it makes business sense to hire black bus drivers. Second, and more important, Darren has moved a lot in his life and has had more than twelve jobs. Hence, any rational manager must look at his record with some trepidation and wonder why this person has moved so much and whether he would be a reliable worker.

Tony, a carpet installer in his twenties, used a very unusual version of the story line to explain why he believes being white is no longer an advantage in America: “Oh yeah. Like when my girlfriend went to get on aid, the lady told her if she was black, she could have got help, but she wasn’t black and she wasn’t getting no help.” Tony’s account can be translated as “I did not get welfare because of blacks.”


  • So black people can use the n-word but I can’t


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Ta-Nehisi Coates: The N-Word

Everyday Feminism: 4 Reasons White People Can’t Use the N-Word

1.We lost the privilege

2.Why should we get a say in the conversation about that word?

3.Not everything should be in bounds to us as white people

4.It is not, in fact, a double standard – It’s a standard

The Last Word on That Word


  • I don’t have white privilege, I’m poor, I had it hard too


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  • Social Justice warriors, Political Correctness, Cancel Culture
  • Anti-racist are the real racist (Racists Redefining Racism)
  • You talk/focus too much about race


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Everday Feminism: To White Feminists Who Don’t Want to Discuss Racism: Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know

  1. Yes, Everything Actually Is About Race, So Stop Telling People of Color Not to ‘Make It About Race’

Every time a white person tells a person of color not to make it about race, what we’re really doing is silencing them. Because that’s what telling someone not to “play the race card” is: a silencing tactic. It’s something that white people do to get people of color to stop talking about the racism that they experience. And when we do that, we are actively contributing to that racism.

What Can You Do Instead?

Instead of silencing people of color, work on amplifying their voices. Talk less, pass the mic more.

Huff Post: The Race Mongers: Conservative Media’s Efforts to Delegitimize Justice for Trayvon Protesters

“Race-profiteers, some of whom put what remained of their credibility on the line agitating against Zimmerman, are determined not to let the verdict be the end of the polarizing case.” wrote Alex Newman of The New American. Newman’s was one of many voices from the right trying to spin the Justice For Trayvon Movement as something less than legitimate; manufactured as opposed to grassroots outrage. The notion that anyone who cries racism is somehow a race-monger, is nothing new for the right wing which constantly downplays America’s race problem, or denies it outright, all the while inciting it.

This trend is exemplified in the reporting on the post-verdict demonstrations, nationwide, by conservative sources. The only city they focused on was Oakland, Calif., because it was the only city in the country to see notable incidents of violence; the only one to fit the narrative. The Blaze and Breitbart in a celebratory frenzy, provided their readers with numerous articles containing video and pictures of protesters burning American flags. However, they were, by no means, the only conservative outlets to do so., and a slew of others got on board. The imagery potent, the emotional appeal palpable, such reporting is yet another attempt to frighten older white audiences with unruly black youths. By not providing the context behind the actions, these presentations are meant to delegitimize the black protesters, and beyond that, Trayvon Martin.

The trouble with reporting flag burnings as stories in themselves is that they are not stories; they are part of a larger picture, a legitimate racial controversy, which was strikingly absent from any of these articles from conservative sources. Because racism is fundamentally detrimental to democracy and society, the media has a responsibility to at least provide context when covering racially charged events. Without it, the coverage only serves to reinforce people’s prejudices, as made apparent by the comments sections of some of the articles:

Redefining Racism

  • White People supporting racism are the real victims
    • White people are the most discriminated against (over 50% of white people believe this)
      • White people are wrongly labeled a racist for being proud of their heritage of European-American
  • You can’t be racist if you don’t harbor hate in your heart towards minorities
    • Racism is a personal choice made by openly racist people
  • Racism isn’t systems and policies but a referendum on the rot of the individual soul
    • Anyone could be racist now as long as they harbor hate in their heart including minorities and anti-racist activist
    • ““Racist” is seen as such a deep personal attack that it’s safer and more civil to refer to things as racially charged, or tinged, or explosive, or divisive, or (when all else fails) just plain racialGreg Howard – NY Times
  • The real racist are the anti-racist who are secretly anti-white
    • “”Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White” a slogan that became popular among white supremacists in the mid-2000s
    • White Genocide is a white supremacist conspiracy theory that immigration, abortion, diversity, racial integration, etc. are trying to destroy white dominated nations and white people
      • Fear of the decline of the white race
  • Anyone who cries racism is somehow a race-monger
    • Right wing tactic downplaying or denying America’s race problem, while inciting it

“It’s not that anyone denies that institutional racism once existed. But the belief now is that systemic racism is a national cancer that was excised long ago, in an operation so successful it didn’t even leave lasting effects. All that remains is individual hatred in the souls of the most monstrous among us — or else, depending on whom you ask, in vengeful minorities who want to nurse grievances and see whites suffer for the sins of past generations. Through the willful perversion of shared history, whites have been able to appropriate the victimhood of minorities and, in an audacious reversal, insist that an obvious thing isn’t real — otherwise known as gaslighting. And as in any case of sustained abuse, gaslighting is integral to institutional racism.” Greg Howard – NY Times

image352014 Alabama Billboard

“”Anti-Racist is a Code Word for Anti-White” is a racist slogan that became popular among white supremacists in the mid-2000s. It is derived from a short essay commonly referred to as “The Mantra,” popularized by long-time white supremacist Bob Whitaker. “The Mantra” attempts to rebut accusations of racism by claiming that people who profess to be anti-racist are actually trying to destroy the white race and that the term “anti-racist” is equivalent to “anti-white.” Whitaker’s followers have convinced themselves that if they simply repeat The Mantra, or the slogan derived from it, that they can somehow capture or reframe debates about racism. They frequently exhibit the slogan on signs and banners.” ADL

“Psychologists since Freud have argued that projection is part of our normal equipment to defend ourselves. It is also an essential tool in the creation of a corporate identity (Us versus Them).12 More pertinent to this section, projection helps all of us “escape from guilt and responsibility and affix blame elsewhere.”13 College students and DAS respondents projected racism or racial motivations onto blacks and other minorities as a way of avoiding responsibility and feeling good about themselves. The projections of college students appeared on a variety of issues (e.g., affirmative action, school and residential segregation, interracial friendship and marriage, and the work ethic of blacks), but most often on the hot issue of so-called black self-segregation.” Eduardo Bonilla-Silva: Racism without Racists

Further Readings on Redefining Racism

NY Times:  The Easiest Way to Get Rid of Racism? Just Redefine It.

Wikipedia: White Genocide Conspiracy Theory

Salon:   Is anti-racist a code word for anti-white? No, but the people behind #WhiteGenocide may think so

Rational Wiki: Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white


  • In the good old days


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Reverse Racism

  • Does not exist and is an excuse to avoid talking about real racism
  • Racism = Prejudice + Power
  • Denying, dismissing or minimizing people of colors’ experiences

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

3)            Reverse Racism

(a)            “People of color are just as racist as white people.”

(b)            “Affirmative Action had a role years ago, but today it’s just reverse racism; now it’s discriminating against white men.”

(c)            “The civil rights movement, when it began was appropriate, valuable, needed. But it’s gone to the extreme. The playing field is now level. Now the civil rights movement is no longer working for equality but for revenge.” or

(d)            “Black Pride, Black Power is dangerous. They just want power over white people.” (Include here any reference to pride and empowerment of any people of color.)

Reality Check and Consequence

(a)            Let’s first define racism:

Racism = Racial Prejudice (white people and people of color have this)


Systemic, Institutional Power (white people have this)

To say people of color can be racist, denies the power imbalance inherent in institutionalized racism.

Certainly, people of color can be and are prejudiced against white people. That was a part of their societal conditioning. A person of color can act on their prejudices to insult even hurt a white person. But there is a difference between being hurt and being oppressed. People of color, as a social group, do not have the societal, institutional power to oppress white people as a group. An individual person of color abusing a white person – while clearly wrong, (no person should be insulted, hurt, etc.) is acting out a personal racial prejudice, not racism (by this power definition.)

(b)            This form of denial is based in the false notion that the playing field is now level. When the people with privilege and historical access and advantage are expected to suddenly (in societal evolution time) share some of that power, it is often perceived as discrimination.

(c + d)            c is a statement by Rush Limbaugh. Though, clearly he is no anti-racist, both c + d follow closely on the heels of “reverse racism” and are loaded with white people’s fear of people of color and what would happen if they gained “control.” Embedded here is also the assumption that to be “pro-Black” (or any color) is to be anti-white. (A similar illogical accusation is directed at women who work for an end to violence against women and girls. Women who work to better the lives of women are regularly accused of being “anti-male.”)

The Root: Is Reverse Racism A “Thing?”

‘Reverse Racism’ Is A Giant Lie – Here’s Why

The “Reverse Racism is a Real Thing” Bingo Card by Hershal Pandya

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Logical Fallacies

  • Intentional errors in reasoning to manipulate arguments
    • Strawman Fallacies
      • Manipulating an argument then arguing the manipulation
      • Black Lives Matter movement hate white people
    • Ad hominem
      • Attacking the person/org making the argument rather than the argument
      • “If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you’d better have an established record of critique of our oppression.” Jesse Williams 2016 BET Humanitarian Award Acceptance Speech
    • Outlier Argument/Hasty Generalizations
      • Using cherry picked information to argue a generalization
      • Dallas Shooting proves Black Lives Matter wants to kill cops
    • Both Sides/Moral Equivalence fallacy
      • Compares minor misdeeds with major atrocities, suggesting that both are equally immoral
      • Both sides are to blame
      • Saying “racial divide” instead of “racism”
    • What About(ism)/Purity politics
      • Bringing up one issue in order to distract from the discussion of another
      • What about black on black crime?
    • Gaslighting
      • False information presented with intention of making the victims doubt themselves
      • Don’t fight hate with hate, maybe you just need to be more positive
    • Whitesplaining
      • White people explaining to people of color something they felt was racist wasn’t really
      • White people believing they have right to debate another’s humanity/oppression
      • He’s not racist. He’s a good person!
      • Show me the evidence of your oppression!
  • Common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument.
    • Strawman Fallacies – manipulating an argument then arguing the manipulation
      • If you criticize Israel you’re anti-Semitic
    • Both Sides/Moral Equivalence fallacy – compares minor misdeeds with major atrocities, suggesting that both are equally immoral.
      • Trump saying protestors and Nazi were both equality to blame for Unite the Right rally
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      • For more White Supremacy Responses by SURJ and illustrative designer Rachel Ashley-Lovelace
    • What About(ism) – Purity politics – bringing up of one issue in order to distract from the discussion of another
    • The Right to Debate Another’s Humanity
    • Whitesplaining
      • White people explaining to black people that something they felt was racist wasn’t really racist
    •  Gaslighting

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Everyday Feminism: Gaslighting Is a Common Victim-Blaming Abuse Tactic – Here Are 4 Ways to Recognize It in Your Life

In short, gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse “in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity.”

Essentially, gaslighting is a tactic used to destabilize your understanding of reality, making you constantly doubt your own experiences.

“It’s not that anyone denies that institutional racism once existed. But the belief now is that systemic racism is a national cancer that was excised long ago, in an operation so successful it didn’t even leave lasting effects. All that remains is individual hatred in the souls of the most monstrous among us — or else, depending on whom you ask, in vengeful minorities who want to nurse grievances and see whites suffer for the sins of past generations. Through the willful perversion of shared history, whites have been able to appropriate the victimhood of minorities and, in an audacious reversal, insist that an obvious thing isn’t real — otherwise known as gaslighting. And as in any case of sustained abuse, gaslighting is integral to institutional racism.” Greg Howard – NY Times

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Source: the.mirror

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When an influential person is called out for doing something terrible, whether that’s promoting harmful, hateful views, holding prejudiced beliefs, or abusing someone online or in real life, there’s a formula for what they have to do.

First they have to issue an official statement, either owning up to or denying their wrongdoing and offering an explanation or an apology. Then they’ll need to gently rehabilitate their image so they can be officially un-cancelled.

But within that formula, there’s another formula – and that’s DARVO.

DARVO is an acronym that describes the typical response of a guilty person when they’ve been accused of bad behaviour. It’s traditionally referred to in discussions of a perpetrator of sexual crimes, such as rape or physical abuse, but is a pattern that pops up in many other situations in which people are called out for something negative.

It stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender. Let’s break down those stages.

First you have Deny – that’s pretty self-explanatory. You’ll see the person accused of wrongdoing simply denying that that’s the case; ‘I do not hold those views’, ‘I never said that’, ‘I did not do that bad thing’.

The Deny stage is where gaslighting starts to come into play, with the person often trying to simply deny someone else’s lived reality. ‘No, that doesn’t happen’, ‘no, you’re making that up’, or ‘that might have happened, but it’s not as bad as you say it is’.

Then there’s Attack bit. This is when the accused person will turn around the criticism to focus blame on the person calling them out. So let’s say a celebrity was called out by someone on Twitter – they might go into attack mode by accusing that person of just being jealous, or bitter, or a liar.

Finally, you’ve got the Reverse Victim and Offender stage. This is where things get sneaky and subtle. Suddenly, the accused person will turn things around and say that actually, they’re not guilty of doing something terrible. In fact, they are the ones being treated poorly.

In this stage, you might see someone introduce their own trauma as an excuse or a distraction tactic. They’ll respond to accusations of racism, for example, with a story about how they faced gender discrimination when they were younger. Or they might focus their statement on how they feel ‘bullied’ by the accusations, so those reading feel that the person who has been called out is actually the victim, facing online abuse rather than being challenged on their actions.

The acronym is the work of Jennifer J Freyd, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon.

She created the term back in 1997, but often speaks and writes about DARVO in the context of the #MeToo movement. DARVO can be nestled into an apology or it can be a replacement for one. Its aim is to disarm the accusors and essentially prevent people from making further criticisms.

It’s a clever trap when you think about it. Imagine all the stages together in this hypothetical. Illustration of woman working on a computer with the words ‘Breaking News’ on the screen Once you know about DARVO, it loses some of its power (Picture: Ella Byworth for Let’s say an influential person is accused of transphobia. They issue a response in which they deny that they are transphobic – ‘I love trans people! I have many trans friends!’ – then attack their critics – ‘people saying I’m transphobic are just cruel, hateful people who want to cause division’. Finally, they Reverse Victim and Offender: ‘I’m receiving so much online abuse because I’m a woman and we live in a sexist society’.

Now, as a critic, you’re stuck. If you continue to call that person out, you’re ‘cruel, hateful and want to cause division’. You’re being sexist. You’re piling on the online abuse.

Clever, right? It silences other victims, too, showing them that if they speak up they’ll just have their experiences denied, be attacked, and be blamed. 

The dangerous thing is that DARVO works. Research by Dr Freyd and her colleague, Sarah Harsey, found that exposure to a DARVO response was associated with less belief of the victim and more blame of the victim, meaning the response is successful for the perpetrators of abuse.

It’s handy to know about DARVO, however, so you can see through the sneaky tactics and work out what’s really going on. Dr Freyd has said before that people are much less likely to believe and accept a DARVO response once they understand the mechanics of this commonly used technique – and her research backs it up.

Knowledge is power, and the more people know about DARVO, the less effective it becomes.


Everday Feminism: To White Feminists Who Don’t Want to Discuss Racism: Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know

  1. Don’t ‘Whitesplain’ Racism

“Whitesplaining” is a term used to describe the act of a white person explaining racism to a person (or people) of color. This doesn’t even necessarily have to mean that you’re explaining away racism, or explaining what was really meant by the scenario that a person of color is bringing attention to for being racist. Though it can be that. It can also be a white person with a pretty decent analysis and understanding of white supremacy explaining to a person of color what that analysis is, like the white person is the expert.

I’m guilty of this one myself, particularly because so many of my friends are people of color with a passion for social justice. We all read the same theory (usually written by… wait for it… people of color) and it can be easy to find myself explaining these things I’ve learned to them.


What Can You Do Instead?

One of the most helpful things I’ve learned is to defer to people of color in conversations about race, whether that’s by linking to things written by them or sharing information that you learned from them (while being clear that you did not come up with this idea. Give credit where credit is due: to people of color).

Another way to do this is by not jumping into a comments thread to educate people when people of color are already on the thread and can handle themselves. However, it’s not people of color’s job to educate other white people, and the only time it is acceptable to jump on a thread is to collect other white people who are engaging in racist or problematic behavior.

We should aspire to talk less and amplify voices more.”

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Everday Feminism: To White Feminists Who Don’t Want to Discuss Racism: Here Are 7 Things You Need to Know

  1. We Don’t Get to Determine What’s Racist

How often do we see something posted about racism, only to then see a bunch of white people jump into the comments to argue about why that thing isn’t actually racist? For example, maybe someone calls out Kylie Jenner for appropriating Black culture with her braided hair. Or maybe they’re pointing out why white people wearing bindis as a fashion statement isn’t cool.

And then a white person comments, “Um, it’s just hair” or “Bindis have nothing to do with skin color.” Or perhaps someone is venting about a racial microaggression they experienced when they were out to dinner, where they felt like they were treated differently by their server because they’re Black.

And the next thing you know, a white person swoops in to say something like, “Wait, how do you know it was because you were Black? I think you’re being paranoid. It was probably just because the server was having a bad night.” But here’s the thing, fellow white people – it’s not on us to decide what is or isn’t racist because we don’t actually experience racism. The people who are experts on racism and therefore get to determine what is racist are the people who live it everyday – people of color.

What Can You Do Instead?

This one is simple: For the love of god, please stop arguing with people of color about what is or isn’t racist. I don’t always understand why something is racist or offensive at first. But I don’t have to understand in order to say, “Oh, okay. I won’t do/say that again.” What matters is that someone who has an identity that I don’t says that something is harmful. That’s enough for me because I don’t want to hurt anyone. If all it takes is for me to stop doing or saying that thing.

I don’t think that’s asking all that much. If you want to be an ally to people of color, it’s a good idea to not debate or discredit the lived experiences that they are sharing. Believe them as the experts on their own lives.

Everyday Feminism: Why White People Shouldn’t Impose Their Feelings Into Conversations on Race

White Feelings Don’t Compare to the Reality of Racial Oppression

When you enter a conversation on race, you may feel uncomfortable, guilty, or upset. In comparison, people of color feel unsafe in their environments, fearful for their lives, worried about their status in the country, or heartbroken from the loss of their loved ones due to a hate crime.

Your whiteness means you don’t experience this to the same extent – or at all, in many cases.   If you think talking about police brutality is uncomfortable, imagine the fear that comes over many black people when we are pulled over. Many of us are thinking, “Am I next?” and wondering if we’ll receive the same fate as Sandra Bland or Freddie Gray.

You may feel uncomfortable talking about microaggressions in the few minutes that you spend discussing it, but you have to understand that microaggressions are a daily discomfort (to say the least) for many people of color.

Additionally, I often see white people derail a conversation by bringing up how they “feel the same way” or they’ve been oppressed like people of color because they are also marginalized. But there are holes in this argument. Even if you’re marginalized in another way and you want to talk about your oppression as a working-class person, as a queer person, as a woman, and so on, this isn’t always appropriate either.

At the end of the day, you’re forgetting three important things:

First, you still have white privilege.

Second, the conversation isn’t about how you are marginalized.

Third, people of color can also be working class, queer, women, and more, and their race intersects with other marginalized identities.

Because of how our various identities intersect, your feelings about how you “feel the same way” because you’re also marginalized aren’t exactly as similar as you think they are.  If you do want to find parallels and ways to relate your experience to that of a person of color, maybe you can find time to talk to them about it in another conversation.

Just be careful about dismissing their oppression or saying it’s the exact same thing. There may be parallels, but every person brings their unique experiences of privilege and oppression. In the future, you could also use these parallels to help other white people who are marginalized understand racial oppression

Right to Debate Another’s humanity

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Further Readings

University of Minnesota Press: There’s strength in a politics of imperfection

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