“Never Let These White People Tell You How to Feel”

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Never let these White people tell you how to feel,” I told my friend who had just experienced a larger than micro-racist event.
She was shook and needed to deconstruct the experience.
I posted about it, using the above statement which is ACTUALLY from a Childish Gambino track. The social media post actually resulted in White people…telling me how to feel because of how it made them feel.
You make me feel bad for being White.
You have no idea what I have been through as a White person.
Not all White people are like that.
You can’t say things like that.
It’s cool when it has a beat behind it and a flow to it but say some shit in real life and all of a sudden it’s unacceptable when you can’t dance to it.
It isn’t about you. You as a specific tangible White person. My grandpa was white, I am part White and I’m not out here trying to be prejudice against White people by speaking directly to experiences that we encounter often. It is about deconstructing and evicting the voice inside of us, or outside of us, that tries to cause a ruckus and stir up some inferiority complex.
There are interactions where things are not said directly, but are implied, and sometimes they are a little more blatant. My father told me a story of our neighbour who talked with him at the end of their side by side driveway. They shot the shit in a neighbourly manner. My father told him that I was in Grad school and the neighbour said something like, “For a Native, you seem to be doing pretty good for yourself and you raised your children right.”
My dad had to break this talk down later with us.
Never. Let. These. White. People. Tell. You. How. To. Feel.
After multiple experiences like this is paired with an educational system and society that feeds you messages and stereotypes about yourself… you begin to carry around an inner mini self oppressor. Also known as: inferiority complex and/or internalized racism.
These messages are so strong that they can dictate behaviour and responses of the oppressed without actual racism having to take place at all. As the foundation for it was built and instilled prior through the culture of oppression in which we live.
Last year my boyfriend at the time and I went to a comedy show in the city. My boyfriend was a black man and I am an Indigenous woman. As we walked into the venue where the line up was we got mixed up and thought there was a separate line for drinks. As we tried to bypass that line a very well dressed White man pipes up from a group of White people, “Whoa, whoa, where do you think you’re going?”
“The line up to get into the show,” my boyfriend replied.
“No you’re not because you’re cutting ahead here. You need to get behind us,” the guy says in his dude-bro voice.
“Okay,” I say as we walk to the line behind them.
The White guy says something under his breath. His group laughs and they carry on with loud drunken obnoxious talk. I look at my boyfriend and I can tell he isn’t present. I can tell I am not present. That both of us feel the tension of the feelings that came up without it being said. White people superiority. Even if it wasn’t racial, you could feel the implications of race in the moment. The feeling of being put in your place.
I held his hands and faced him, trying to ground both of us.
During the comedy show the comedian makes jokes about big dicks and the same White guy, even drunker now, points at my boyfriend with a face like, “hey you can relate”… as if they were homies.
On the car ride back to where we were staying I say, “so did you feel all that weird White people shit?”
For lack of better words, because I couldn’t say, “Did you feel the sting of forced inferiority in that situation that happened with those Caucasian folks?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I was trying really hard not to put him in his place.”
And we talked that shit out.
Never. Let. These. White. People. Tell. You. How. To. Feel.

My friend, who is an amazingly eloquent Indigenous woman, talked with me a few days ago about how she shrinks in the present of White men in the academic world. That when she is asked about her work she does not feel safe to tell them or to launch into conversations with them because of the worldview that they may come from. She feels her voice break under the weight of the western academy and assertion of it’s right to white knowledge production.

Never. Let. These. White. People. Tell. You. How. To. Feel.

A huge part of this is being able to evict your own inner mini-oppressor and tell it that it can’t live there no more. Once we become aware, become grounded, then we can try to slay these moments as they happen. There is always a host of shit happening in everyday situations that Caucasian people do not have to be aware of and layers of reality they are never exposed to. It does not mean that it does not exist because someone is never exposed to it.
You can’t stay silent about it for the sake of not offending people and interrupt your own healing and decolonization processes. The time for that has gone and passed.

I no longer know where I am going with this blog post so, chime in if you feel the need.
Unless you are going to try to tell me how to feel. Then keep that shit to yourself.

In Spirit,

Helen K

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