To White People Who Want to Be ‘One of the Good Ones’

Jun 20, 2020

There are a lot of reading lists being passed around among us whites. Besides books on racism and antiracism, there are documentaries to watch, conversations to unpack, privilege to be examined and a foreboding sense of work to be done.

We are determined to do that work and determined to let everyone know we are doing it. This work is deemed necessary so we can become better allies for black people in the fight for racial justice. There are so many anguished conversations among white people taking place right now about what to write on our protest signs, about that time we said that thing to a black friend and it changed the energy in the room, about whether rewatching the movie “The Help” counts as progress.

There is a frantic race to catch up, and that’s got to be the correct instinct, right? I mean, look at this moment in history. I swear, if I don’t do it right I’ll ask to speak to my own manager.

However, when I pause for a second I get a sneaking feeling that my ego is involved. I catch myself wanting to be “one of the good ones,” and I have to laugh at myself. Who exactly do I imagine is paying attention to me? Is somebody out there doling out points? Black people are being killed in broad daylight by the police, by actual representatives of the state, and I am fretting over the wording of an Instagram post.

One powerful lie that we were born into is that white people deserve different, better lives than anyone else.

NY Times fake news: Lumping all white people into one homogeneous group; check. Blaming all white people for the sins of a handful of them; check. Parroting lies about police shooting statistics; check.

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