Now, I am all for white people making their fellow Caucasians realize the role their privilege plays in their lives. Great! But it’s possible to give privileged people too much credit for basic human decency. It’s an easy trap to fall into. I’ve done it myself without noticing.
But we have got to stop.
Recently, my friend, Joshua Welch, had a tweet of his go viral. If you can’t tell, he’s using Culture Day at his school to dress like thief because white people steal other cultures (and he’s not lying, but that’s not what I’m going to talk about here).
dressed like a thief for culture day bc white people steal everyone else's culture pic.twitter.com/XnY4juY9fh
— welch's grape juice (@jotswa_welch) October 5, 2016
Let it be known that this isn’t the first time Josh has talk about culture appropriation or other issues that involve people of color.
Let it be also known that for those you don’t know him personally, this is a huge difference from when he was stuck in a different mindset when we were eight….I mean…..(yes that’s me in the picture)
remember when i was extremely culturally insensitive 🙁 pic.twitter.com/6uSyM6VqS9
— welch's grape juice (@jotswa_welch) October 30, 2015
And I’m proud of Josh for not deleting it, standing by it, and having no regrets. He’s gotten a lot of support on Twitter as well as hate (I guess you can tell who those people are). I was even telling all my friends as school (Josh and I go to different schools so it was more people for me to tell). Before you know it, he was getting contacted from Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Mashable, and other publications who were loving his fun costume idea. Just recently, one of our local news stations invited him to be on TV.
Has anyone noticed the problem yet? If not, don’t feel bad, because it took me a little bit, too. It’s the fact that a white person bringing awareness gets more attention than the people who are affected by the problem.
I deal with cultural appropriation in a way that Josh does not have to. However, if it was me who dressed in that same “culture thief” costume to make a point about culture appropriation no one would care. I wouldn’t see Buzzfeed coming for miles and the local TV stations wouldn’t rush towards me. Even my classmates would just shrug it off and someone from administration might pull me to the side if they heard why I dressed like a thief. No one would find me funny in the same way people found Josh funny. Overall, people would just label it as “another black problem” and file it away in between “angry black girl” and “ugh, this again.”
White people who claim to be our “allies” are probably ready to throw some sweet messages at me about how “Oh! society would too care! You know people like you are keeping more white people from liking you!1!1!!!1!!”. Sit down Jan. I don’t think I want them as “allies” yet if they still get offended over nothing that easily. Plus, I know what I’m talking about. Here we have a local TV news station wanting a white person to explain the issues people of color face. When do we get to provide input on the issues we face?
I’ve been learning that there is a line between agreeing with the person and overpraising the person you’re agreeing with. That’s why I’m bringing this up. Are you unknowingly crossing that line at times too?
A funny thing about this is when a black girl like me, or almost any person of color really, wants to point this out some of us feel like we have to be polite about it. Did you notice how I started this article?
Part of me is all like “Screw what others think! It’s my opinion after all!” while the other half of me is like “Well….maybe I shouldn’t be harsh. Am I harsh?” Some of us think that we need to “kiss the king’s feet” before bestowing what is art thou wrong with the picture―even to our closest “white allies” (how was my Shakespeare, by the way?).
I don’t really care if Josh gets his 15 minutes of fame: the tweet is funny and true. What matters to me is the fact that I and other people of color are continuously ignored when we are screaming at the top of our lungs. Why can’t we work on these issues instead of rewarding privileged people who acknowledge them?
Dear United States of America and Media,
Please stop putting white boys on a huge stage for repeating what we say and turn on our mics for once. Just because you’ve turned them off doesn’t mean that we’ve haven’t been using them all along.
EVERY SINGLE PERSON OF COLOR WHO IS TIRED.