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When it was just smoke

There have been a lot of posts by well-meaning white folks lately. While it is nice, from my perspective it is bringing a smoke detector to a three-alarm fire. The people in the burn ward do not need to be told that while you have never been on fire, you understand that it was hot.

I needed you every time a person said I had a bad attitude. I needed you to ask them why they thought that. I needed you to point out that I wasn’t doing anything different, or responding differently than another coworker.

I needed you when someone said they felt threatened by me. I needed you to ask them why, and what I had done. I needed you to challenge them with their own bias. I needed you to tell them then, that being black isn’t a threat. I needed you to not validate their racist feelings just because they feel them. I needed you to think about how a man that has spent his life defending others would feel being labeled as dangerous.

I needed you to confront your friends when I told you how they treated me. Not tell me, that you don’t see me that way, or that you nave never seen it. I needed you to trust that I wouldn’t say it was a hostile work environment unless it was. I needed you to talk to people that wouldn’t listen to me.

I needed you every time someone said “I don’t see color” and tell them that doesn’t make them enlightened, but it makes the ignorant to the unique experiences of others. I’m not just talking about racism here, if you don’t see color, you miss out on the beauty of a rainbow.

I needed you more times than I can list here. And not just me, so many of us. I don’t need you to tell me when the world is on fire, I needed you when it was just smoke.

Originally posted to my Facebook June 1, 2020.