How to Talk to White People About Racism

In the spirit of talking about race, here’s another view. (It was also reblogged as “how to talk to privileged people about oppression.)

Our post today On Intellectual Laziness, Collective Truths and Storytelling, led us to this post on Tumblr, by Ankhesen Mie. Here is an excerpt from “How to Talk to White People About Racism”:

1. Do not debate. Declare.

I’ve come to realize that debating is just another derailing tactic. If you come across a white American who wants to argue, cloud the issue, split hairs, etc., then you’ve reached the end of the conversation – period.  Social justice is not a cult; it’s not your job to “convert” people. They have to choose to either be a decent human being or to support the racist colonialist system that is America.

  • If they talk a lot about their “opinions”, end the conversation.
  • If they ask you if you really do experience racism, ask them why they’re asking you that.
  • End the conversation if they start with lines like,
    • “I can’t imagine”
    • “I refuse to believe”
    • “I just don’t see”

And no, you do not have to be nice about it.

2. Do not end racial discussions on a positive note.

If white people end racial discussions on an optimistic, the-future-is-bright note, they’re happy, they feel absolved, and they tell themselves that things “will eventually work themselves out”. That’s why they have to leave these discussions bothered, troubled, and deeply perturbed.

We don’t get a slow, gentle, candy-coated introduction to the pains of American racism. Never have. White folks shouldn’t get to either.

3. Maintain realistic expectations.

What leads to frustration is most of us operate under the misguided notion that intelligence is all someone needs to learn something. Learning, in fact, requires additional components to intelligence, like consistent practice, research, recall, overall self-discipline, and a need for the absolute truth of things. White privilege conditions much of this out of most white Americans by the time they hit puberty.

4. Stop being afraid.

You don’t need white Americans to like you – if they cross the line, make them uncomfortable. We have already overcome and survived a lot in this country and contrary to popular belief, we did so with an overwhelming lack of support from white America. So do not doubt your worth or tone down your voice or temper your strength.

If you’re being dehumanized socially, assert yourself and walk way. If you’re being dehumanized occupationally or academically…lawsuit. Tolerance is a bullshit term, and we need to stop tolerating from hereon out, online and in real life – period.

Full article here.



About the Editors

We're all in this together.


  1. Why are black people spending so much time worrying about whether we like them or not? Plenty of people don’t like me, as long as they don’t cross a line I don’t really care.

  2. I’m gobsmacked. I had a lot of respect for the Good Men Project, but this post was written by a teenage girl.

    It is bigoted, ill-informed, and incendiary. It treats all white people as being a negative homogeneous bunch. That is racist in itself. It also perpetuates a dangerous them vs. us attitude.

    White people in America come from a wide range of racial, class, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds.

    Shame on the editors for not having more editorial integrity.

  3. Better than talking about racism is just being a decent human being, an example for all to see. Let the racists be softly shocked into silence as you treat everyone according to the content of their character.

    You show me a mountain of debate, I’ll show you one good deed. Which one weighs more?

  4. The Bad Man says:

    Racism exists everywhere, even in countries where there are no white people to blame. It is only in western society that there is the popular myth that only white people are at fault for racism.

  5. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    The only people I’ve seen be assholes about racism are rich white people. The more priviliged (more elite) a college is, for example, the crazier the “anti-racist” whites get. POC are usually happy to get support, and probably like the non-rabid support better. I agree, if someone approached me with this type of attitude, I’d leave. I kind of do think a color blind approach is the right one. Be fair, and let everyone show their own merits.

  6. This article is racist and tiresome, for that matter. It assumes that only white people can be racist. If you want to end racism how about addressing everyone’s racist beliefs? And that includes African Americans who are racist against whites.

  7. ‘Learning, in fact, requires additional components to intelligence, like consistent practice, research, recall, overall self-discipline, and a need for the absolute truth of things. White privilege conditions much of this out of most white Americans by the time they hit puberty.”

    What an incredibly racist statement. Most whites don’t have those things it’s just the way whites are. Yeah no that’s really bigoted of you

  8. Cracker sure do hate an angry black.

  9. What the hell is up with this fucking auto refresh?

    1. Do not debate. Declare. – Wow way to shut someone out of the conversation. Its going to take a good bit more than that to get me to decide they aren’t worth talking to.

    2. Do not end racial discussions on a positive note. – Why not? As long as they recognize that said positive note won’t just fall into out laps and that we (yeah we as in all of us) have to work for it I don’t see a problem with a positive note ending. This almost sounds like you folks think that white people must be actively made uncomfortable in order to start doing something. Way to sell white people short…

    3. Maintain realistic expectations. – I presume you only mean this in relation to white people and the discussion on race. If so then I agree, and it applies in other contexts as well.

    4. Stop being afraid. – If it wasn’t for, “We have already overcome and survived a lot in this country and contrary to popular belief, we did so with an overwhelming lack of support from white America.” I’d be inclined to agree. Sure you can debate (but is that allowed?) that white America as a whole doesn’t provide the support you folks speak of but you really come off as sounding dismissive of the many, many, many individuals of white America who do provide that support (like Margaret above).

    This is part of why there are a lot of men who don’t suppport feminism as much as feminists would like us to. Kinda hard to want to work toward something when your individual efforts are swept under the rug for the sake of being able to say “men as a class” aren’t doing anything for women.

    You don’t gain supporters like Margaret by ignoring their efforts so you can blanketly say white America hasn’t done anything.

    • Yes, that auto-refresh bit me yesterday as well. I wonder if it’s a primitive attempt at loading new ads, inflating the view count, or both.

    • The Bad Man says:

      The auto-refresh feature artificially inflates their visitor count for the purpose of google search popularity and advertisers.

  10. A lot of defensive responses… Tells me the author is on to something.

    Perhaps it would be useful for folks to reflect on why they feel so strongly about how racial concilliation strategies should be presented by a POC. Especially focusing on how a single narrative causes you to think negatively about an entire group?

    • Aldebaran: The author isn’t on to anything.

      The amusing part is this has nothing to do with race. This is about how to treat people, how to discuss things civilly and how not to be a dick. Skin color has absolutely no bearing on how this should be presented. I don’t care if you’re green, if you want to talk about something then let’s talk about it. But don’t start by saying “Declare instead of debate.” All that says is “I’m right, you’re wrong and it’s not even up for discussion.” How is that productive?

    • Perhaps it would be useful for this guy to reflect on why he feels so strongly about how racial conciliation strategies should be discussed with white people. Especially focusing on how his own narrative seems explicitly concerned with nothing more than the ethnicity of those he deems inferior to him.

    • “A lot of defensive responses… Tells me the author is on to something. ”

      I love this troll response. Ok I’m going to accuse of random heinous crimes off the top of my head. If at any point you become defensive then it must mean I’m right.

    • I don’t see anything in this article that I would call a “racial conciliation strategy.”. This is why I avoid talking about race, or racism, or social justice, or anything else, to pretty much anyone. As a white person, I’ve learned that no matter how progressive and well meaning I am, there is absolutely nothing I can do or say that will solve one single injustice that any person of color wants to complain about. I think many of the complaints are valid, but I can’t fix them, and no one ever seems to really want to have a genuine discussion, they want to berate me and demand that I acknowledge my “privilege.” Well, there is NOTHING I can do about my privilege. NOTHING. I can’t make myself less privileged or make someone else more privileged. White people are not born with a ticket book of privileges that we can hand out to others to make everything okay. All I can do is live my own little life the best way I can, and be nice to people and non-racist to the extent possible. Beyond that, the problems of “society” are beyond my power to fix.

    • “A lot of defensive responses… Tells me the author is on to something.”

      Yea. The same snorting high horse as every other self-righteous white traitor to their own kind.

  11. And for the non-PC response of the day…Screw this author!

    You want to talk to people like this, fine. Your choice. But all I hear when you’re this rude and dismissive is “Wahhhhhh!!!” So if you have no interest in furthering a frank and sometimes heated discussion on a tough topic, fine. But am I going to take you seriously or listen to a damn thing you say? No.

    Black or white, an asshole is still an asshole.

  12. As a white mature woman who marched, organized, and survived violence and decades of very UN privileged living as I worked for racial and social justice, I am tired of the latest generation of non-activist activists assuming and declaring I am a racist BECAUSE I am white, or I am a racist BECAUSE I am older.

    You don’t think debate, discussion, or relentless insistence on human dignity works? Fine – just please, shut up about “my” privilege(s), stop destroying our efforts by being the too-cool-for-school bully, and go enjoy your unearned self-righteousness, without dissing those women and men of color and white who have and continue to make a difference. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

  13. This seems to me like nothing more than the author’s blunt, self-righteous excuse to burrow himself into a blissfully homogenous echo-chamber where challenging views are by default dismissed as coming from lesser people (racists, apparently) in order to not have to go through the trouble of subjecting his ideas to the intellectual scrutiny of those who don’t agree with him wholeheartedly.

    Actually, this *is* something more than that: It is an invitation for others to join him in his self-congratulatory circle-jerk. Which, come to think of it, is brilliantly self-serving: With one short manifesto he has both established his intent to alienate himself from anybody who doesn’t agree with him *and* recruited other intellectually-crippled, self-righteous, like-minded people to become the infrastructure upon which he may erect this temple of ideological homogeny.

    I now stand up and offer this gentleman my most mockingly sincere slow clap:




  14. “We have already overcome and survived a lot in this country and contrary to popular belief, we did so with an overwhelming lack of support from white America.” Yup, cause no white people ever marched with MLK, no white presidents ever signed the Civil Rights Act, and there are no anti-racist white crusaders today.

    • I was thinking the same thing. Isn’t it funny how people can be so selective about what is representative of white America (or any group for that matter)?

  15. If a white person took these approaches or said these things it would be called hate speech!!! The content of this article does more to promote racism that to bring unity, or whatever it is that your looking for. I don’t care what color you are. Approach me with this kind of attitude and not only will I not like you, I wouldn’t give you the time of day. After reading this, with the exception of my christian brothers and sisters, I think I’m going to be very weary of people of color. I wish Martin Luther King was still with us. He preached healing and unity with mutual respect. I guess the dream really is dead. Darn shame people take this approach because I really hate racism.

    • This is the author’s viewpoint. There is no need to be wary (not weary) of all non-Christian people of color because you read, and disagree with, the thoughts of one person.

    • Nott African-American, just American says:

      White people want the rest of Humanity to forget how they got where they are today, and they want to be forgiven for all the evil, inhuman, atrocious acts of genocide and oppression they committed. But the biggest denial is the fact that they INVENTED race to begin with. It does not exist, and science has proven that it does not exist genetically or biologically. When the white controlled media and the social paradigm openly acknowledges this fact, then racism will truly be over. But white people in power as well as those in society generally refuse to do this because they still NEED “race” to prop up the long standing white affirmative action program known as “white supremacy” . How dare some white racists claim that black affirmative action is the reason for any success, when since before 1776, whites have had a pro-white affirmative action program in America?

  16. (FYI, I’m white) This is really hard for me. For myself, it was a long process to realize and learn about racism. I was raised to be “colorblind”. Blogs like helped me realize the truth. But I find that people just don’t want to listen. Whether it’s about religion, race, politics, whatever; people cling to deeply-help beliefs.

    I feel like… yes, you may be a catalyst. But ultimately it’s their choice whether to look deeper or not.

    Still, whether or not I make a difference, I feel it’s part of my duty to inspire discussion and present my own learning process.


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