The 49 seconds of truth every white person needs to hear right now

Shea Coulee
Kerry-anne Mendoza

Black Lives Matter. This is not a message for Black people. We know our lives matter, and we know the lives of non-Black people matter. But for a very long time, up to and including today, many white people cannot say the same. African American drag queen Shea Couleé took just 49 seconds to explain what every white ally needs to do right now.

Do the work

One of the most exhausting elements of racism is the burden of emotional labour. White people often view racism as a problem for the oppressed communities, not the communities doing the oppressing. Improvements in racial equality are seen as our job to deliver. And continuing racist attitudes are blamed on our failure to reach people who think we’re less than human. But as the ever-fabulous Drag Race season 9 finalist puts it:

It’s white people’s problem. It’s y’alls problem.

And it’s not my job to stand up here and tell you how to fix it, because I’m not the person that created it in the first place…

for allies… It is up to you to be able to talk and communicate to those people in your life that don’t understand. Because you’re the ones that can get through to them. They’re not going to listen to me the same way that they’ll listen to you.

So anybody that sits there, and they’re complacent, and they don’t speak up? You are just as much a part of the problem…

the job in fixing this is up to you because… I’m just busy trying to survive.

Be an ally

White privilege isn’t something you can reject or accept. It exists, regardless of whether you want it or not. But what white people can do is challenge it wherever they see it. That means getting good at recognising it for yourself. Listen to Black people, believe them, notice when you see it happening, and be the one to act. Be the one to have the awkward conversation. Accept the burden of the emotional labour. Leave the Black or Brown person to get on with their day, while you deal with the white fragility. And know that you are repaying a debt, not creating one that the Black person owes you. You are settling the tab, daily, for centuries of oppression. And you are doing it with a smile on your face, because finally you can be of service in a real way. Because you want a world where all lives matter, and right now, they don’t.

That’s how to be an ally.

Featured image via Hey Qween/YouTube (modified)

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  • Show Comments
    1. Well said.
      The problem is far deeper than just colour of one’s skin though. Black people like Mugabe, Idi Amin have wielded the same kind of oppression. Doesn’t matter what colour skin you have, it comes from the dark side of this animal we are.
      Time for social brilliance, and apart from the publications like the Canary which actually print what people say I haven’t noticed any.
      Perhaps T.S.Elliot ‘s The Wasteland describes this shallow vacuum in understanding leading people to look for a Planet B, as the Planet were on now is beyond hope with any vision with which to survive?
      It seems to be peoples feeling.
      But as Shea Coulee says its time to speak out against this social violence of cold blooded murder of a peasceful man. “I can’t breath” speaks for us all.
      Social violence against Jeremy Corbyn as a voice for progressive change was astounding too brought by the concepts of class seeking to rule over Britain.
      They are failing miserably in this and with their properous complacency I don’t even think they take goverance seriously as a way for us to survive as a culture worthy of surving on the planet.
      Reading through history they never have.
      One conquers another period.
      Now is our time to start which looks to be what we are doing.
      Life matters is a good start on having brilliance.

    2. I was initially very sympathetic to BLM, and I still am, but I do not like being told I am “privileged” when I don’t feel that way and I am sure there are others who feel the same way.( a problem with “identity politics” in general) Police violence can affect people of all races, and it is not just black people on the receiving end. Of the average 1000 people killed per year by police in the USA, most are still white, a fact which is often used by opponents of BLM.
      Over policing, militarized policing and excessive for affect everyone, and has to be challenged for that reason as well, it’s not just about racism.

    3. When Black Lives Matter, start to care about all the Black lives, in Yemen, Palestine, Venezuela, Iraq and the myriad of other countries that American, and British troops, both Black and White, continue to terrorise. Either through direct actions, or tacit support. I might start taking them seriously, but they do not. Western Black lives Matter would be more accurate..

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