|Source: my photo.|
Life is too short to be consumed by angst and nonsense. It is too short to be routinely frustrated by people you could feasibly cut out of your life. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so I better make my time worthwhile – my time is valuable and mine.
I have chosen not to forgive racist trespasses – that mask themselves as clueless microaggressions – of those who will not make amends. I don’t mean the Dylan Roofs or confederate sympathizers; they have never occupied real space in my world except as university press fodder or media terrorism when white nationalism materializes into violence. Rather, I mean the everyday, unintentional racists: white liberals.
Acknowledging them in my own space, when I am claiming that they are no longer deserving of my space, is already fatiguing. It’s not that I can’t handle the “inevitable” fuck-ups; I don’t have to “handle” anything that is a waste of time.
I am a forgiving person. I think I have a lot of tolerance for mistakes, and in many causes, I do not rule out intent, even as I care more about impact.
But I am tired of excusing those I’m supposed to call allies or friend of their behavior. When asking for forgiveness, the wrongdoer typically makes clear that they will do whatever it takes to rectify the mistake. Forgiveness is not a hand-out or ticket; it’s a privilege that must be earned. I have bestowed forgiveness on those who I believed actually wanted to make amends; they just wanted a three-month “angry free” pass.
The everyday white racists are ahistorical, clueless, and lazy. Their behavior is normalized because they are the beneficiaries of institutional racism. They do like people of color, especially black people as consumable material objects, but very rarely as fellow beings. Only when that person of color has proximity to whiteness in some way (via wealth, shared ideology or interests, whatever) they become “human-lite.” Then when it comes down to personal needs, also known as the benefits of whiteness, is this recognition abandoned.
As black people in the US, we are chastised for not “readily believing in the power of white liberal allies.” They have a lot of institutional power, and are on “our side.” But does not actively hating someone and freaking out about a Beyonce song only because it resonates to you as a white feminist actually being on “our side?” While we are on the front lines sacrificing ourselves for liberation, is having them make facebook posts in support but not donate to our jail funds allyship? They are on “our side,” but they never do any work.
Maybe it’s unintentional. Maybe they are unable to do anything without me saying lullabies interspersed with plees for survival, like a Mammy. It used to be a conundrum for me, and a great source of anger and betrayal. Why is it that the person who claims to love and care for me is violent to my being as a black woman? Why does she always hurt me? And why am I supposed to forgive her.
“I'm not going to dwell on this young man. I don't harborsort of dark feelings about him; I almost pity him, because his racism isn'teven interesting; it's just blunt and sad.” Roxane Gay was speaking about the Charleston terrorist, but the paragraph sticks out to me. It’s not worth my time to dwell on why my “natural allies” are not actually my natural allies. I don’t have to give it the time of day, except maybe in a seminar paper. I don’t need to be frustrated with these people, or even acknowledge. Their racism isn’t even interesting to inhabit my personal life. There is no time.
So I will not forgive their mistakes. I will not dwell on it. I will just cut them out of my life, no questions asked. You don't need to wait for a milestone to be respectable enough to do it. Just do it. What do you value? Your life, or undue stress?
I cut 240 individuals from my space. Two made a scene, and one asked for forgiveness by saying "the right words." But it's not enough. Forgiveness without the will to make amends and face consequences is not accountability; it is continuing a cycle of abuse.