The fallout from the “Karens” and “Kevins” has been unparalleled after one of our favorite Aunties, Oprah Winfrey, sat down with Meghan and Harry for some piping hot Royal tea. First, came Piers Morgan, and then Sharon Osbourne followed behind wielding her weaponized white woman tears. Something about a Black woman who was offered a seat at the table of whiteness and then deciding to get back up because love was no longer being served there really pissed folks off. Not only how dare Meghan Markle walk away, but then how dare she defend herself and speak her truth. It was where people went from quietly rolling their eyes to becoming extra vocal.
The number of Twitter comments made by white women questioning the authenticity of Meghan Markle’s story were nauseating and triggering. They were all leveled at Meghan and none of the shots fired were thrown at her husband, Harry. It drudges up the Jezebel trope. The poor mulatto temptress uses all her sexual cunningness to lure an innocent white man into her bed and subsequently wrecks an age-old institution like the monarchy. The trope is ever in the background of overt racists looking for an opportunity to bemoan Black women. Yet it also triggered latent racism. The “good people,” who have Black friends and don’t see race, also have been vocally exercising their white privilege.
Watching Meghan holding back tears and emotions reminded me of all the times I had to show up and put on a face because the folks berating me and disrespecting me signed my checks. I also understood that her daring to even hint at the racism she faced would cause white folks to begin to feel like she was directly addressing them. I also fully expected the Royals to also begin a we are not racist apologetic tour. However, the need to begin to tell us who you are not is the first sign that you are just as guilty of racism. And no teary eyed aggressive confrontations to prove how one has been racist doesn’t absolve one from racism.
It couldn’t be any clearer in the exchange between Sharon Osbourne and her cohost Sheryl Underwood. Sharon was willing to support her friend Piers but readily willing to attack her friend Sheryl in the same breath. And not only was she willing to attack her she was also ready to silence her pain rather than see her pain. Yet she’s not the only one and that’s the frustrating part of the fallout from the interview. Every Black woman I engaged with around the topic experience Meghan Markle moments and Sheryl Underwood moments. And so for us watching, reading and taking in the fallout it was downright exhausting because we were intuiting their pain in the moment while also being triggered to remember all our painful experiences that often begin in childhood.
The exhaustion of carrying that burden and living with that pain, while mentally preparing for the next traumatic racist moment to emerge is why I hate when people put the onus on Black people to educate white folks on racism. I am fighting for my own sanity and those of my sister girlfriends, and my bae’s experiences, and my mom’s experience to care to point out how seemingly good people who have Black friends can perpetuate racism. We are busy. We are drained. We have lived this truth for far too long and there are too many resources for us to be responsible for educating you on why blackface is wrong, why the n-word is inappropriate, how you shouldn’t use people’s cultural dress as your party costume, and how offensive it is to tell me you don’t see color. The truth is that not only tiki torch burning, hate spewing klan membership toting white folk are racist. In fact, regular old white women that defend their white male friends to the point of telling a Black woman she has no right to cry are also operating in racism.
Black folks stop explaining. Unless, someone is coming to you humbly asking how can I actively pursue racism, then just protect your peace and keep it moving. To the white folk who will read this consider how drained your Black friend, co-worker, even spouse might be during this time, so don’t ask them to help you out. Instead, Google is your friend. Ask what books you can read to learn about white fragility and microaggressions. I want you to take a page from how my mom raised me in the 80s. If I didn’t know the meaning of a word she told me to get a dictionary and look up the meaning. I had to already have some knowledge before I went back to her for clarity. So, if you want to know how a situation is racist or you are operating in racism. Grab a book, read it and start to educate yourself. Give the Black people in your life the chance to breathe, heal, and recover. I promise you for any level of exhaustion you feel over racially charged incidents the people of color around you feel it even more. So, let us be great by allowing yourself the chance to educate you on how not to be a racist.