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The Problem With Unfriending: Why White Allies Need to Keep the Conversation Going

by Hannah Smith

Right now, we’re seeing the world move together to bring attention to a matter that can no longer be swept under the rug. Though I cannot wrap my mind around why, the Black Lives Matter movement’s resurgence across the globe has also sparked a decent amount of backlash, primarily among conservative thinkers. Some of the arguments that are presented are head scratching, most of them are infuriating, and in turn, we’re seeing a movement of people unfriend conservative friends and family members so as to not deal with the frustration. And while, believe me, I personally understand the sentiment of wanting to do so, if you are an ally, I implore you to consider otherwise. 

For Black folks, trying to hold conversations with white folks about equality, civil rights, and the like are often unsuccessful or can often turn dangerous, as thinly veiled racism embedded in white folks begins to come to light the more conversations are held. Many are of the thought that racism died when the Civil Rights Bill was passed (I mean, that is what the history books said) and will refuse to see modern day racism for what it is. In addition, the concept of white priveldge becomes even more polarizing as some might argue they have none. There’s a culture deeply engrained in gas lighting the entire movement, and this makes these important conversations almost impossible to hold for Black folks.

And this is promptly where you allyship comes in 

Realize that if you’re white and you didn’t vote for the sitting president, you’re in the minority, which means your family are the ones you need to have a conversation with. When you see a family member post something infuriating, not factual, or blatantly racist, don’t freak out and unfriend them. Instead, recognize that you have the priveldge of holding a conversation with them. Present them with facts, present them with media they’re not seeing, tell them why you believe this is a worthy and just cause – it’s something our brothers and sisters cannot do and we must be their voice. Frankly, it’s a priveldge to be able to educate others on racism and not have to experience it yourself, so in stopping the conversation, you’re not using your priveldge to the best of your ability. 

To those allies who believe educating other white folks is not their responsibility, that’s a priveldged answer. Yes, they can go open a book just as you did once, but it takes a sense of open mindedness to even get that far, a sense of open mindedness that is often not present in this mindset. I understand the frustration – I don’t want to spend my time arguing with my family on Facebook when I know they’ll likely be the same stubborn mindset when I’m done. And I understand they can do the learning on their own, but they choose not to. So while you have them tangled up in your comments or theirs, use that time to your advantage. Though it might not be fruitful, it’s an attempt.

One thing that makes these arguments particularly agitating is the tendency to gas light the matter at hand. Rather than getting frustrated, push the argument forward with some tips we compiled from @liana.teresa on Instagram. 

Whether or not you care to believe it, if you’re white in this country, 54% of the white vote went to our sitting president, and that means we have a job to do. 

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