Protesters march down Brookside for the #WeCantBreathe demonstration Saturday, May 30, 2020 | Photo by Christopher Creese
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By Jordan Rogers, a Tulsa Native and a doctoral student in literature at the University of Miami
White folks love to apologize to Blacks, before doing nothing to change their anti-Black ways. I expect little to come of these protests, despite all of the insincere displays of White allyship floating around social media and elsewhere.
Since I live in South Florida, it goes without saying that the same goes for ‘White-Latins,’ who do a slightly better job of hiding their racism from the American imagination than their Anglophonic counterparts.
I wrote a letter to the editor of a local media platform, criticizing their amplification of police propaganda: the same corny images of cops hugging Black folks that White liberals love to see.I explained that if they really want to help, they need to contact actual Black folks related to these movements and ask how they can use their platform to amplify more important things. And I swear to god, their response is the most Miami-thing ever: “As a non-Black person of color, for a long time, I thought I was good because I’m not White.”
I don’t want their cheap apologies for treating Black folks like trash. I’m not here to absolve White folks of their racism. I don’t know why they feel such a burning need to be innocent of centuries of racism, especially when they have profited so handsomely off of it. If they have no intention to stop living off the dividends they still earn from racism, then they should drop the charade of performative allyship. Honestly, I might have respect for more of them if they did.
The reason why so many White and White-adjacent individuals and institutions apologize so profusely to Black folks and perform so hard on social media is because they know that they’re full of shit. The unmitigated gall they possess to say that they are on our side, before retreating to mediocre trappings that White privilege affords them, when it comes time to end the vicious cycle of systemic racism is unmatched. And they want our undying affection and pity in spite of it.
We need look no further than higher education.
Universities saying that they are on the side of justice aren’t going to start suddenly paying their football and basketball players. They won’t suddenly prioritize Black Studies, or hire/pay Black professors what they’re worth.
And they certainly won’t offer additional financial aid to the non-athlete Black students who they depend on so they can call themselves diverse. No, they will keep charging exorbitant tuition prices and the game continues. The rhetoric is beyond empty and meaningless; it is grotesquely opportunistic for the anti-Black status quo.
These protests are not about White folks or institutions being “good” or “bad.” They are about our repeated requests for you to dismantle the privileges that, deep down, you secretly hope that we will not truly threaten or take away from you.
If we have survived for this long, maybe it has dawned on you that we might know you slightly better than you know yourselves.
As yet another generation of our youth takes to the streets, you should know that we write our own histories, and we are the ultimate judges of your actions.
Jordan Rogers is a doctoral student in literature at the University of Miami, where he specializes in the literature and culture of Blacks throughout the Americas. He also translates Black non-Anglophone literature into English and is an aspiring documentary filmmaker. Rogers is originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma.