Welcome to Hustle in Faith. This podcast is dedicated to helping you find your trail to a happier healthier you by discussing topics regarding Christianity, health & wellness, beauty & so much more! I’m your host Tosha Johnson.
This is episode 111: Are you the problem or the solution?
Before we dig into today’s topic, I just want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to listen and share my podcast with other people. Even if you didn’t agree with me, I still appreciate you taking time out to listen to a different point of view. I really appreciate it.
Now, for those of you who are familiar with my podcast, I know the last couple of episodes have been my Random Thoughts segments which is when I discuss random topics that are on my mind. With that said, today will be another Random Thoughts segment, but I promise you I am working on other topics.
It’s just with everything that’s been going on lately, I felt compelled to share my thoughts. All right, enough rambling from me, let’s jump into today’s topic.
I saw this meme that said, “July please come in here like you got some sense.” Isn’t that the truth?! Like I feel like I need a break because 2020 has felt like an absolute rollercoaster ride. So for selfish reasons, my birthday is in July so I desperately just want it to be a chill month.
I’m not a big social media person. This is ironic because my background is in marketing. The reason I feel this way is for two reasons. I’ll use it for work, but I’m not one of those people who spend hours online because I prefer to make memories offline. That’s always been my motto.
However, the other reason why I’m not big on social media is that it reminds me of how many dumb people there are in the world. Whenever I see stupid comments it takes a lot for me to keep it moving. It’s especially disheartening when I see those comments coming from people I know. I’m all about keeping toxic people and thoughts outside of my world. It’s the only way I know how to stay sane.
Again, unless you have been living under a rock, I’m sure you know that there have been numerous protests regarding police brutality against Black people.
I was on Facebook one day and I saw some White women talking about how they had a desire to attend “peaceful protests” so they were going to a protest in suburbs. The statement “peaceful protests” rubbed me the wrong way because it insinuates that once again Black people are the problem.
Plus, this country wasn’t founded via peaceful protests which is something a lot of White people conveniently forget about, but what made me really sad is that these women are teachers. They should know better. However, in my gut, I truly believe these women were just going to the protest so they could feel better about themselves and capture their “good deed” on film and not because they really wanted to seek change for Black people.
So imagine my surprise when I happened to come across an article called, “White Women Stop Treating Protests as Instagram Photo Shoots.” It was literally White women using the protests and protestors as background props. Some were holding signs, took pictures, and immediately left the protest.
I’m not going to lie. It made me angry because it reminded me of the quote, “Everybody wants to be Black until it’s time to be Black.” Meaning, many White people love to capitalize off of our creativity, our features, music, etc. when it can be used to their advantage, but then disappear the moment someone Black is in an adverse situation or discusses racism, then they magically disappear.
By the way, White women capitalizing on our features drives me insane. When I was younger, I was teased for how I looked. The very same features I was teased for my skin tone, my shape, my lips, my hair all given to me by God, are praised when White women attain them by having plastic surgery or baking in the sun or spray tanning their way to achieve our melanin.
Heck, even today in the corporate world it’s an unwritten rule that the standard of beauty is to look as close to European as possible.
Black women are constantly made to feel like they won’t be viewed as professional if they wear their natural hair which is oftentimes curly or even in a protective style like braids or twists. I’ve had White coworkers and managers go above and beyond to praise me when my hair is straight only to go silent or and/or say stupid comments like, “New hairdo,” with a look of dislike and/or confusion. I normally smile and say, “Yes, my hair is very versatile and it’s much easier for me to wear it curly.”
Anyway, I’ve just chalked it up to they don’t have any home training. I’ve always been taught that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. However, many White people state what they have to say without fear of adverse consequences for sharing their opinions even when it hasn’t been requested.
I don’t have this luxury. In fact, I always have to triple think about what I want to say when I’m at work because I truly don’t have the energy to get into a White tears situation. I’ve mentioned what the term White tears means in a previous episode, ‘Episode 109, Why can’t we all get along?’
For those of you unfamiliar with the term White tears, it’s what Black people say when we refer to someone White who believes that they have been wronged when someone Black points out their behavior racist behavior and/or is upset that someone Black is experiencing more success than them.
Those who cry White tears often do so in order to get other White people on their side in an attempt to make the Black person appear to be wrong when it was really the White person. Again, every Black person I know has experienced this at some point in time in their lives.
I have so many examples of this in my career that I lost track. It really sucks because it’s like the ultimate Catch-22. When a Black woman speaks her mind she risks being seen as the angry Black woman stereotype, but when a White woman does it she’s passionate. However, if the Black woman remains silent, her self-esteem will take a hit.
My mom taught me early on to say what I need to say and not to buy into this psychology nonsense. That Angry Black woman stereotype was created in an attempt to silence us. I must do my part to never allow that to happen, regardless of the consequences.
It’s interesting because now companies are finding themselves in the Catch-22 that Black people experience on a daily basis. If a company remains silent regarding the protests against racism they run the risk of offending their Black employees, Black customers, other customers of color, and those that choose to fight against racism. Yet, if that same company chooses to be vocal runs the risk of exposing the fact that their staff is lily White and they have racist customers.
Both options have consequences, but as my mom always said, “You need to do the right thing.” This isn’t rocket science; yet, many companies delayed in issuing a response because deep down, they were hoping the issue would go away.
After all, companies haven’t had to choose a side before so why should this be any different? I can see where this faulty logic might come into play, but they failed to realize one thing. Everyone has a breaking point. What you see are the effects of a community that has lost hope.
Many Black neighborhoods are poorly funded so they look like war-torn countries, these areas are food deserts, meaning they don’t have access to supermarkets and grocery stores (imagine going grocery shopping at a convenience store because that’s what many do), education in these areas is a joke so the thought of going to college is just a dream because they can’t afford it.
Even if they do go to college they will need to do so based on grants, search for lenders who will without a doubt give them the highest APR possible if they do decide to give them a loan, then this student must work twice as hard to make up for all the education they missed out on in high school.
Then let’s say they graduate they aren’t able to get a job because they have an ethnic-sounding name and/or don’t have the connections to get a job. Now they have a mountain of student loan debt that they can’t pay for living in the same area that they so desperately were trying to escape from. You’re trying to achieve success all while trying to avoid any run-ins with the police because you know that one wrong move can result in death. Sounds exhausting right?
What many of these companies fail to get is that your silence supports violence. The mere fact that these companies are struggling to find the right words is because deep down they’re still trying to figure out how they can somehow not offend anyone.
One example is the NFL. The NFL needs to be ashamed of themselves. It took the NFL 10 days after the protests and a video from prominent football players to make a statement. When I heard Roger Goodell’s so-called apology it made me sick. Back in 2016, Colin Kaepernick did a peaceful protest kneeling during the national anthem and hasn’t played in the NFL since. Yet, there was no mention of Kaepernick in that apology which is why it rang extremely hollow.
Same thing with Nascar. Bubba Wallace, the sports only Black driver on the circuit, and he literally had to tell Nascar that they needed to ban the Confederate flag at events. Again, are you kidding me? By the way, I will never attend an NFL or Nascar event because as a Black person I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing so. I’m not about to get into a situation where I’m sitting near someone drunk who also happens to be racist. I’ve read and heard about one to many instances of this happening and refuse to be a part of that statistic.
I already research the level of racism I can expect to receive or encounter when I choose a vacation spot, so I’m not about to add this nonsense to the list as well.
Again, companies must realize that if you’re going to demonstrate support in the fight against racism then you better put some action behind those words. Black people are not amused by your long flowery statements. Actions speak louder than words.
If you really support Black lives, how many of them are on your staff? What actions are you taking to impact the community? By the way, it’s baffling to me how many companies are hiring diversity consultants. It’s even more disturbing to me that the companies that are being hired are owned by White women. Once again, it feels like White people are profiting from our pain and experiences. The money spent on a diversity consultant could have gone towards resources and time on projects that would bring about sustainable change.
This is why I’m not about to waste my time in some stupid listening circle talking about racism to a White woman who would never be able to relate to my experiences when I could be taking that precious time to connect with those within the community and allocating resources to help end the inequality. If companies really want to resolve racism then ask yourself, “How can I make the greatest impact within the Black community?”
It all starts with educating yourself. Then you need to pay if forward and share that information with other White people. Listen and share content written by Black people, not just content that talks about our experiences.
Many White people will spend hours researching the perfect restaurant, vacation spot, the list goes on, but when it comes to learning about the Black community, “I don’t know where to start.” Which is hilarious, because I feel like White people are always saying that they have a Black friend so you would think that they would have some idea on where to start.
All you have to do is channel that same energy into learning more about us. Identify the glaring gaps within the community like housing, education, employment, etc. and start the process of filling them. If you see that your company doesn’t have any Black people then hire them and if you have Black employees then survey them to uncover unmet needs. There’s no reason to waste your money on hiring a White women-owned diversity firm.
Take that money and use it to fight racism, not just talk about it. The next step which seems like common sense, but obviously common sense isn’t all that common anymore, is if you see someone unjustly being treated then say something.
Again, I’m all about the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. The time for talk is over.
Like NAACP Image Award Nominee, Atlanta based activist Kimberly Jones said in an interview, “I think the only way something is going to come out of this is if we start making the necessary changes ourselves. Because it’s been proven time and time again that we’re on our own. The saddest part about that is that racism is not a Black issue that white people need to empathize with. Racism is a white problem. They caused it. They need to fix it. But I don’t have faith anymore that that’s going to happen.”
I want nothing more than to be proven wrong, but I feel the same way Kimberly does. It’s like Black people have been given a puzzle that we didn’t ask for and are now being forced to put these pieces together as soon as possible.
We’ve been working on this puzzle for over 400 years, so it’s time for White people to take over working on the puzzle so we can celebrate the final image of what equality and justice really looks like in God’s eyes.
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