Why I Don’t Talk to White People.

By Quentin Lucas

A few years ago, I struggled through a date at an art museum, admiring, but mostly just trying to understand, the pieces comprising a feminist exhibit. The woman I was with, much more educated about the subject than I, offered informed viewpoints, helping to add a dimension to the work which I, nevertheless, never fully comprehended nor enjoyed.

However, my date said one thing which stuck with me years later:

“During the height of the feminist movement, some women moved to enclaves where they started new lives completely separate from men, even beginning relationships with women though they wouldn’t identify as gay.”

I wish I had been alert enough that night to ask my date for clarity. Rather, I instead wondered if I could ever hate women enough to start dating men because I didn’t want to be around them anymore. Presently, I don’t think of hate as the chief catalyst behind women separating themselves from men. This is mostly because hate feels like clenching a muscle. Hate is work, and exhausting — like the reversal of your blood flow it’s such anathema to our natural state. Hate is so fatiguing I find its ability to exist in perpetuity almost inexplicable.

Yet, James Baldwin supplies insight when he says, “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”


All I’m certain of is that hate is not why I don’t talk to white people — though I certainly don’t flinch when I meet someone who does hate white people. I don’t feel any particular sense of loyalty toward, or need to defend, White America. Nor do I feel the need to explain why that is. But, psychologically speaking, I do seem to have shuffled off to an enclave.

Intimacy Issues

Not talking to white people hadn’t always been my modus operandi. As a child, I’d play tag, swap lunches, or talk cartoons with everybody — although, I grew up poor and in the inner city, so there were fewer chances to talk to white people. Conversely, as a teen I didn’t really talk to anybody — but, now that I think about it, I was more social in the black church I attended than my prep school. Then, as an adult, I’d seemed to have hit a groove where my curiosity had taken the wheel and I was back to my general acceptance of whoever happened across my path.

Psychiatrist Erik Erikson’s eight stages of psychological development highlights the importance of intimacy for building a full, happy life. And intimacy is what I’ve predominantly cited as the chief impediment to my talking to white people. Intimacy with that community doesn’t appeal to me.

Intimacy can be challenging, especially in the Information Age where social media has blurred the lines between who we are and how we present ourselves. Maybe my former Facebook friend who said anybody who would protest with Black Lives Matter should unfriend him was only grandstanding for his conservative social circles — nevertheless, I unfriended him anyway. And, truthfully, we were never really friends, just former co-workers, loosely hitched together by coding.

We are responsible for the communities we build around us, for the people we let in and those we keep out. I say that I don’t talk to white people because White America’s collective mindset is hostile toward people who look like me. But I could easily say, “I don’t talk to white people so White America’s collective mindset is hostile toward people who look like me,” because sometimes our actions feed our perspectives. And I am only certain of not always being certain of which side of the line I occupy.

A person may refuse to board an airplane because she thinks flying is too dangerous, while travelling via car is actually more lethal. But until she starts boarding airplanes and completing journeys through the sky, flying will always be the greater threat despite it being safer statistically. This is because all she’s ever known of air travel is to see it as likely death.   

Initially, I thought I stopped talking to white people because White America is just awful, touting degrading stereotypes of people of color in entertainment, mitigating our murders at the hands of civil servants, et cetera. Now I just feel that White America is misguided, though still reductive, hurtful, and even deadly. But it is a necessary, though potentially dangerous, pursuit, to consider if White America is only harmful to me because I treat it as something that harms me.

Incidentally, the September 18, 2015 episode of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher inspired this essay. Listening to Maher’s panel of white men — Maher, Mark Cuban, George Pataki, and Chris Matthews — explain the prudence of arresting 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed — because a teacher thought his science project might have been a bomb — was like watching a doctor tell a child, “You know, if you had only just killed yourself first, you wouldn’t be dealing with this pesky brain cancer.”

Have you ever had an imaginary conversation with a television show?

White People Talking

Bill Maher: Look, this kid deserves an apology, no doubt about it … but could we have a little perspective about this? Did this teacher do the wrong thing?

Quentin Lucas, puzzled spectator: Glad you asked, Bill. Yes. The teacher was absolutely wrong.

Mark Cuban: I talked to the kid. I asked, “Tell me what happened,” because I’m curious, right? His sister, over his shoulder, you could hear, listening to the question, giving him the answer.

Quentin Lucas, perplexed spectator: Hate to interrupt, Mark. But I’m curious, right? Could the defensiveness have come from your being the kind of a person who discusses the particulars of private phone calls with children on national television?

Bill Maher: He’s a great kid. No one’s doubting that.

Quentin Lucas, baffled spectator: Seems like you really are, Bill.

Mark Cuban: This is, again, secondhand. The kid, Ahmed, took the clock, put it in the first class. The teacher said, “It looks great.” Took it to the second class, teacher said, “Okay, whatever, it’s great. Looks great.” Takes it to the third class, same thing. Then he got to a point, again secondhand, where one of the teachers, an English teacher apparently, said, “Look, you gotta put it in your backpack because it’s gonna make some people nervous and it’s making me nervous,” and, again secondhand, he wasn’t responsive to it at all. So it took six classes before anything happened.

Jorge Ramos, only non-white guy on panel: But this wouldn’t have happened if he was Muslim … and because of the color of his skin.

Bill Maher: It’s not the color of his skin. It’s not the color of his skin. Excuse me, somebody look me in the eye right here and tell me of the last 30 years if so many young Muslim men haven’t blown a lot of shit up around the world. For the last 30 years it’s been one culture blowing shit up over and over again.

Quentin Lucas, stupefied spectator: Excuse me, Bill. First, I’d love to look into your eyes. Second …

Jorge Ramos: You can’t blame all Muslims around the world for what somebody else did.

Quentin Lucas, slightly relieved spectator: An obvious — but somehow elusive — point, Jorge. Thanks for making it.

Mark Cuban: All the kid had to do was engage with the teacher and he didn’t. That’s the part that was missing. It was wrong that he got arrested. But all he had to do was talk to the teachers. But he didn’t.

Quentin Lucas, apoplectic spectator: I’m sorry, what?

Bill Maher: The message is you can see why they would err on the side of caution. Because only 25 miles away, somebody did try to kill people.

George Pataki: I can’t believe I agree with you. And, by the way, we have zero tolerance in schools for things that are suspicious. And maybe that doesn’t look like a bomb — but it doesn’t look like a clock.

Bill Maher: What if it had been a bomb? So the teacher is supposed to see something that might be a bomb and say, “Oh, wait, this may be my white privilege talking?”

Quentin Lucas, spectator with a headache: I can presently think of several instances where I wish someone would say, “Oh, wait, this may be my white privilege talking.”

Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s Hardball: You know, in this country, one of the problems we got is this willingness to take sides in this country without knowing what the hell happened. How do you know?! I wasn’t there! You weren’t there! Everybody’s an expert. It’s all a cartoon! Everything’s a cartoon!

Quentin Lucas, slightly terrified spectator: Hey, Chris, not sure what you mean by cartoon. That’s kind of a weird …

Chris Matthews: Everything’s a fucking cartoon!

Quentin Lucas, slightly more terrified spectator: Weirder.

Jorge Ramos: A 14-year-old was arrested for doing a science project …

Mark Cuban: He shouldn’t have been arrested. But he should have opened his mouth and had a conversation about it.

Quentin Lucas, browbeaten spectator: I just want to say that it was great to hear Chris say fuck because, seriously guys, what the …?

Bill Maher: He was arrested. And they took him off in cuffs. And then put him in a cage and burned him. Oh no, that’s ISIS who does that. You know what, we put a kid after school for a couple of hours. This is not the end of the world …

Quentin Lucas, longsuffering spectator: Don’t say “we,” please. I don’t cosign this bullshit.

Bill Maher: The lack of perspective on this is astounding.

Quentin Lucas, demoralized spectator: Bill, I couldn’t agree more.

Chris Matthews: Let me just say one thing. The teacher said something that sounds credible. They said he wasn’t forthcoming. The kid had a chance to explain himself. All you have to do is explain yourself. And for whatever reason, just shyness … we don’t know what it was. He wasn’t used to that kind of tension. But he didn’t explain it. Who would’ve been there to explain this thing? I don’t know.”

Mark Cuban: But you know who the big winner is? Ahmed. Because when I talked to him — he got all the attention. His two hours were taken but he told — look he’s been getting all these offers … the kid came out way ahead.”

Bill Maher: I would love it if one of the adults who has talked to him would also say to him, “You know what, what happened to you was wrong but maybe one of the reasons why it happened is because in our religion we were responsible for 9/11, the Madrid bombing, the London bombing, the Bali discotheque bombing ….”

Jorge Ramos: But he’s not responsible for …

Bill Maher: He’s not! Of course he’s not! We’re not saying …

Talking to White People

To pursue intimacy, to discuss matters wildly important to my life, and livelihood — like race in America — with a cohort this remarkably obstinate would be to adopt the persona of The Shawshank Redemptions Andy Dufresne. Except, one would be crawling through “five-hundred yards of shit-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine” only to emerge from one prison while still trapped in another — that which is made of melanin.

A response to the aforementioned panel may look something like the following:

“Mark Cuban, the idea that the onus rests upon the shoulders of a 14-year-old student to articulate for his racist English teacher that he’s not a terrorist even after, according to your own secondhand account, some six other teachers basically said ‘nice clock, kid’ throughout the day, is the quality of bullshit that, if science could ever synthesize, may end world hunger through its fertilization properties alone.

George Pataki, the one thing you said through this entire bigoted diatribe is ‘maybe that doesn’t look like a bomb — but it doesn’t look like a clock.’ Glossing over the obvious constitutional reality that America doesn’t usually arrest children for creating items that don’t look like clocks — and your curious animosity for non-clockmakers — I have to say that you came the closest to doing your job well. You went on television and gave prejudice a thumbs up. If the GOP was the American Mafia, this is the moment when party members would line up to kiss your hand and call you Godfather.

Chris Matthews. You lost me when you said cartoon. And then you pulled me back in when you said cartoon again. How do we know? What do we know? Simply that if the police actually thought Ahmed had made a bomb they would have evacuated the school, or called the bomb squad, or brought in some bomb-sniffing dogs, or found a stray on the street and taught it how to sniff bombs so they could discover a strain of malice emitting from somewhere other than the collection of bullies who interrogated a child without even his parents being present.

And Bill Maher. You’ve been called intolerant before. And all you did tonight was validate that contention. On top of being arrested for making a clock, you wish some adult would be sage enough to tell Ahmed that it only happened because there are awful people who claim to share his faith — and it was necessary to err on the side of caution.

As you were.

Oh, and … America. America’s culture has been blowing shit up for the last 30 years. We have the most expansive and expensive military in the world for a reason. Also, white men. If people are going to “err on the side of caution,” then in regard to schools, arrest white males with anything in their pockets.

I don’t care if they only find pencils. Profile and arrest all of them — for the sake of caution, of course.”

But little of what I think deviates from the contributions of the disregarded and universally opposed Jorge Ramos, who could only voice his opinion through the walls of his melanin penitentiary.

Tunnel Vision

The serenity that accompanies choosing not to talk to white people is borne out from something not unlike successfully crawling through a tunnel of sewage — like Dufresne. Guilt and shame are mephitic, and ubiquitous. But neither torment as effectively as the prison cell where you just sit, swarmed by bigoted bombast and time, dragging like nails against a chalkboard.

Talking to white people can be a life’s slow, inglorious ending. So, you hold your nose and crawl through shame, and guilt toward something safer, healthier — wondering all the while if you’ve become like the xenophobic personalities you’ve loathed for so long.

I’m not a court of law looking for the intent behind an incident, asking whether George Zimmerman was hunted or hunting. My concern is the patterns, and the outcomes. A co-worker genuinely compliments me by saying he would never call me a nigger because I work hard, the impact is white supremacy. A friend kindly invites me to watch a movie where the people of color are non-existent or plucky sidekicks, the impact is white supremacy. My roommate casually mentions that he likes to watch Bill O’Reilly for entertainment, the impact is white supremacy.

The light at the end of that tunnel — shoving away White America’s casual oblivion like shadows — may be the closest I’ll ever come to knowing freedom in America. And so, yes, I would figuratively, or literally actually, crawl through a tunnel of shit to escape a world where everything has been made to be about race.

“Why do you make everything about race?”

To be a human being, accused of “making everything about race,” is to receive a thorny stem instead of the rose. The allegation is almost a kind gesture, almost a compliment implying that you’re somehow influential enough to make anything “everything about something.” Additionally, backlash for discussing American racism underscores the topic’s anarchistic pedigree. A mere analysis of the frequency of racism threatens a coup de gras for the American ego.

“As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it — whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”

~ Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

The cunning behind the accusation of “making everything about race” is that, like accusations of racism, it works as an honest observation, a power play, or both. And the consequential fallout of uncertainty can be disorienting. Being told that your perception is askew does little more than highlight the fallibility of your humanity. Anybody can sustain a temporary loss of perspective.

But when this peccadillo — a skewed perspective — is grounded in the controversy of American racism, the consequences may be widespread repudiation. Every American life is tied up in the labyrinth of racism. No matter whom you are in this country, where you stand on this single issue leaves you accepted or abandoned to some measure — which is one reason why the reluctance to examine it does not mystify.

Ironically, if it weren’t an incomplete thought, I would actually value the question, “Why do you make everything about race?”

But the question — “Why do you make everything about race when our country’s forefathers already did?” — drives the crucial point closer to home.

The Currency of Whiteness                                                     

In the 1973 movie, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, a scene consistently bewilders me though I’m aware of the realities behind it. David (pronounced da-veed) Lemieux plays Pretty Willie, a character who is asked to lead a bank robbery because of his light skin. The gang’s ringleader — played by the mahogany Lawrence Cook — makes the request because he trusts that Pretty Willie’s appearance will sway legal authorities from believing that black influences manipulated the caper.

Pretty Willie’s reaction is candid:

“Look man, I am tired of that! I am not passing! I am black! Do you hear me, man? Do you understand? I am black! I’m a nigger! You understand me? I was born black! I live black! And I’m gonna die probably because I’m black! Because some cracker that knows I’m black — better than you, nigger — is probably going to put a bullet in the back of my head!”

To this day, I still watch the scene and feel a floundering discomfort with the white man in the dashiki calling himself, and Lawrence Cook’s character, nigger. This is true even while understanding that David Lemieux is of mixed heritage, and is a former Black Panther — one of the youngest when he joined at the age of 16. Additionally, Lemieux later spent 26 years as a Chicago police officer — only after consulting activists first about how his policemanship might benefit his community — and, now retired, actively participates in the Chicago Black Panther History movement.

Though, in truth, David Lemieux could instead be a Ku Klux Klan member in good standing. Such a membership, in conjunction with his pale skin and flowing hair, nevertheless does not discount his blackness — which might inspire one to ponder what being black in America actually means.

To feel bamboozled by the racial boundaries chiseled into the American psyche is likely a reflection of your better judgment. When walking across the western border of Massachusetts into New York, there is no actual boundary fingered into the soil, indicating the moment you’ve ambled into the country’s 11thstate. But, like a shared hallucination, those lines have been tattooed into our collective truth — winning our devotion and compliance — though no such borders exist in the physical world.

Race is not dissimilar from that shared hallucination. A 2002 Washington Post article, People of Color Who Never Felt They Were Black, notes that, in Brazil, “Someone with Sidney Poitier’s deep chocolate complexion would be considered white if his hair were straight and he made a living in a profession.”

One of the earliest moments of legislating color lines into American culture followed Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676 — an ignoble escapade bent on the desire to slaughter American Indians. The bloodshed and duration of the rebellion were troublesome enough for the Virginian authorities. But what intimidated the ruling class of the time was that one of the final groups to surrender comprised 80 black slaves and 20 English indentured servants.

“There are hints that the two despised groups initially saw each other as sharing the same predicament. It was common, for example, for servants and slaves to run away together, steal hogs together, get drunk together. It was not uncommon for them to make love together.”

~ Edmund Sears Morgan, American historian

The aristocratic fear of being overthrown by the lower class culminated with a divide and conquer maneuver. As told by Howard Zinn in A People’s History of The United States, while the Virginia Assembly was passing laws galvanizing the discipline and punishment of slaves, “A law was passed requiring masters to provide white servants whose indentured time was up with ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings, and a gun, while women servants were to get 15 bushels of corn and forty shillings. Also, the newly freed servants were to get 50 acres of land.”

Edmund Sears Morgan adds that “Once the small planter felt less exploited by taxation and began to prosper a little, he became less turbulent, less dangerous, more respectable. He could begin to see his big neighbor not as an extortionist but as a powerful protector of their common interests.”

What gleams as the most apropos exemplification of American whiteness comes courtesy of intellectuals from the antebellum south. During the time when states were beginning to secede, James B. D. De Bow, a leading political economy writer, supported a growing sentiment that the North was the product of inferior white people. “The Cavaliers, Jacobites, and Hugeunots, who settled the South, naturally hate, contemn, and despise the Puritans who settled the North,” De Bow wrote in the popular De Bow’s Review. “The former are a master race, the latter a slave race, the descendants of Saxon serfs.”  

In truth, everything in America is not about race. More likely, if there was a god particle to America, it would be money. But race is a form of currency — even property according to the majority opinion of the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling:

“If he be a white man and assigned to a colored coach, he may have his action for damages against the company for being deprived of his so-called property. Upon the other hand, if he be a colored man and be so assigned, he has been deprived of no property, since he is not lawfully entitled to the reputation of being a white man.”

The value of both assets, money and whiteness, comes from our nation’s faith in them. Few examples underline this reality more starkly than the fact that when the country went to war with itself, one side attempted to steal the other’s whiteness.

Why I Don’t Talk to White People

I once endured a troubling experience with a cab driver. I paid for my fare with the credit card system from the backseat, but the cabby didn’t believe me. We argued for a few minutes before I tired and exited the vehicle. While walking to a convenience store, the cab driver followed me slowly in his automobile, bellowing invectives. He then followed me into the store to do the same.

Eventually, the cab driver called the police. Around 8pm, in a residential district, I stood surrounded by four officers, with one being particularly discourteous toward me. Fortunately, the idea to access my banking app and show the receipt of my payment was successful — baffling the cab driver and annoying the police officer who wouldn’t so much as look at me when I asked if I could leave. I recounted this story to a friend.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “Racism sucks.”

“Actually, both the cabby and the cop who was rude to me were black,” I answered.

“It doesn’t matter. Black-on-black racism, white-on-black racism, it all benefits me,” my white friend said.

Not talking to white people runs curiously parallel to having a gluten allergy, a nuisance which means, among many things, that I shouldn’t consume breaded foods. The conflict within that circumstance is not that I love breaded foods and yet I don’t eat them. The conflict lies in my loving breaded foods even more now because I don’t eat them.   

Thus, the paradox: I don’t eat breaded food. But sometimes I’ll eat breaded food.

I don’t talk to white people. But sometimes I’ll talk to white people. Where the two life choices diverge is that whenever I break my rule about eating gluten, doing so runs counter to my interests in self-preservation. Yet, many times when I break my rule about talking to white people, it’s done in the interest of self-preservation — especially in regard to America’s notional god particle, money.

Eating gluten, and talking to white people, sometimes happens because of an emotional need, either for comfort or company. Alcohol has facilitated rendezvous on several occasions. And there have been times when simply not wanting to be rude — to a white person who’s approached me or to someone who’s cooked a meal for me — has compelled a détente. Although, curiosity has likely been the supreme culprit when rule breaking occurs, for either matter.

Additionally, though the emphasis of this essay has principally concentrated on white people, the word talk also warrants attention. As found on dictionary.com, there is a literal difference between the words speak and talk. The former denotes the utterance of words or articulation of sound. The latter involves communication and the exchange of ideas and information.

I speak to white people frequently. But often, those utterances don’t lead to an open exchange of ideas, or true communication. Though there are serendipitous moments, as was the case with the friend who shared her view on my confrontation with the cab driver. In fact, I’ve been fortunate with the number of honest connections I’ve made with white people — and surprised.

Sometimes I weigh the cost-benefits of not talking to white people, wondering if the world would be a better place if more talking happened — especially since an exchange of ideas indicates there will be more listening. Conversely, there is no talking to white people for me without swimming through tragedy. Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, workplace discrimination, police brutality, the Rosewood massacre, the Black Wall Street massacre, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, the war on drugs, housing discrimination, gentrification, healthcare discrimination, mental health, the school to prison pipeline, income inequality, hunger, not slavery, yet, but the outcry to move on from slavery, and how those scenarios and more contribute to the present day value of whiteness — they all scroll through my mind like the credits of a horror film.

Even before attempting the act of talking to white people, the very idea exhausts me.

Talking to black people reminds me of how black people have endured. Talking to white people reminds me of what black people have endured. Yet, some of my favorite people happen to benefit from the American currency of whiteness — and manage not to wear it like an aristocrat’s family crest, for which I am grateful.

Meanwhile, I merely benefit from the knowledge of this currency, and try to act accordingly — from here on my enclave.

Quentin Lucas is a self-described “Army brat” — originally born in Frankfurt, Germany — who believes the trickiest part of writing comes after realizing the work is about more than the words, or even the idea. Writing is about the communication, or the “telepathy” as Stephen King would put it — taking an idea out of his head and successfully putting it in yours in a way that matters, and somehow adds value to your life. Along with working as a copywriter and professional blogger, he also runs a weekly a column at The Good Men Project which you can read here, has won the occasional poetry slam, and has also been published multiple times in both Elephant Journal and The Huffington Post. You can find a broad collection of his work, including his novel The Magnificent Adventures of QLuke, at his site www.qluke.com.

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Add yours →

    • I just want to live in a world with no hate, I love all races. We are all human. But you still have whites who have absolutely no heart. I’m white, but love African Americans just the same. Love knows no bounds. I love all peeps (:

  1. It saddens me . You tread through centuries of the past and the worst of current times. I am not you. I do not have your experiences but I feel for you. I’ll never understand where you’re coming from, what you’ve been through or how you’ve been treated in your life. But progress has been made and I think you willingly overlook that to benefit your article. Life’s not perfect. An it never will be. That rule applies to all men.

    I’m white, from texas and I don’t vote.(politics disgust me) Stereotype as you may but I don’t hate you. I love you, man. As one human to another human. I Wish nothing but peace, harmony and a healthy life for everyone. American or not. And I truly mean that. Houston is a melting pot and for all the negative connotations you can make from that it has given me a unique perspective and friends of nationalities across the globe. It’s not perfect, there will be differences but why can we not find the common ground instead of pointing out the differences between us? We all breathe air and have blood in our veins. I’m sorry you see only black and white but there’s a whole world of color you truly could enjoy if you just took that chip off your shoulder and let the past go. But as I’ve said, I’ll never know. It’s never been a black and white thing to me.

    This race issue is toxic. It’s disgusting how people may measure you by the color of your skin. But narratives like this only perpetuate the hate. You really never offered a solution or compromise or even a idea to resolve all of this pent up animosity towards white culture.

    I guarantee you there’s more people with my mindset who could care less what color you are as long as you’re a decent and honest person than there are of you just writing it off to stereotypes and chewing up every bit of media geared toward the topic. As a society we have bigger fish to fry than “o, my white roommate likes to watch bill maher, let me write a essay on why bill maher is a racist and why white people just don’t get it.”

    Dude we are trying to get it. That has to count for something. Hell, my ancestors came over pre wwII. Theres no record of slave owning in my lineage as far as i can go back in my research. Yet I still take flak for “white culture”. Wasn’t even on the continent but “my white heritage” was at fault. Not everyone hates you. We are not out to get you or offend you by any means. Im just trying to make my way in this world. I got bills, I got rent, I have problems of my own. Most of us are more than willing to get to know you, hear your thoughts and have conversations where there are no boundaries, because there shouldn’t be any if we want to progress. Maybe instead of isolating yourself from me, start a conversation. Try. That’s all we can honestly do. Stop these stereotypes, quit the hate and assumptions and just evolve as humans. That or sit here and throw shit at each other till the end of time.

    Ya there’s racist assholes of every color, fortunately the majority of us are better than that and teach our kids equality instead of superiority. T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E.
    The. hate. you. give. little ones.f*#ks.everyone.

    Try instead of assume.

    • The point is up here, and you are – sadly and predictably – all the way down there.

    • Do you realize that your “reply” is a prime example of why some black people would rather avoid than talk to white people? Mostly because you completely disregarded everything he said, slipped down into your own feelings and got defensive. You want him to build a bridge while you stand there and yell directions. You want history to be forgotten. Let me ask you, whom does that benefit? And how does ignoring how history got us to our present actually create a better tomorrow? How is anything you said actually helpful in any way other than to appease your own insecure fucking feelings? Dude. My advice, before you go giving advice to an oppressed person who is struggling daily to survive their oppression is to not. Seriously, just don’t do it. If you must say something, say it to yourself in the quiet of your apartment in the mirror. Because you are the only person your words are soothing.

      • Brandy, you’re wrong and rude, and I have too many things in my life at the moment to tell you how wrong you are.

      • OMG good! That was so freaking awesome!

      • Imani Ferguson June 24, 2016 — 6:12 pm

        I totally agree with you Brandy. I understand that you yourself might not be that way towards a certain race, but you can’t expect us to just forget about hundreds of years we were slaves by Caucasian people. And even after they gave us “freedom” we were still slaves because we had nothing, we had no rights. Now don’t get me wrong I do talk to Caucasians and I have had a crush on Caucasian boys. But they have called me names such a monkey, and tar and laughed it off. I am and will always be cautious when it comes to Caucasian people. And I will never forget about what my ancestors, my family had to go through to get where they are now. And Essex nothing he or she said was wrong, its his or her opinion and you just happen to disagree. So instead of defending yourself why don’t you try to understand the author of the article.

      • What’s so pathetic is that there are decent people trying to create healthy and compassionate relationships, and they get so carelessly shut down. I’ve spent the last 2 hours reading articles by Hari, and honestly… they all go nowhere and provide no advice or possible solutions, if not work in the opposite direction.

        Brandy, you’re complete argument bears no foundation. Halfway through, you manufactured a falsd accusation and said Hank wanted history to be forgotten, and then rolled downhill into a awful ending that included insulting and degrading him… It bears no logical foundation nor does it even make sense. It seems that you rather push racism in the opposite direction than work to get rid of it.

        Just as the name of this website displays, and what Mr. Ziyad’s career is propelled by… Race-baiting. Despite the lack of progression you lack on the real issue here, I can assure you that there are people in this world who will go above and beyond to make a difference when it comes down to being a good person to people they’ve never met before, considering other people before themselves as they come and show the same compassion to ALL people.

        Nothing will change when there is so much anger, hatred, and cynicism felt within ANY person.

        • I liked your comment the most. Usually I don’t talk about race but then something happened that made me question rasism and stereotypes in general.
          I am half white and half Lakota Indian (on my dads side) yet except for my hair I am very pale. And my auntie is a Caucasian women while my Uncle is African American. So I have lots of mixed race in my family obviously.
          Well at my job I’ve had for 5 years now my coworkers are a mix of black, white, Latino, and mixed. More then once my black coworkers have made remarks about how I can’t talk to them because as a white person I wouldn’t understand their topics or experiences. I just left them alone because they made it clear I wasn’t welcome the first time I tried to contribute to their conversation as we were all stalking shelves.
          I know sometimes it just can’t be helped because you’re not going to get along with everyone but it seemed backward to me to be told I couldn’t understand because of my skin (and not necessarily my lineage) and then for them to talk about how racist white people were.
          You’re left wondering what exactly to do.

        • Im not any race, I identify as an attack helicopter.

          Non whites hating whites because of individuals in media, while using rhetoric of “we need to move on from blaming muslims for something that mulslim terrorists did…”

          It’s as if you think every single white person sits at home watching the same shows. You look at a person and see their skin color, the first thing you’re doing is judging them. Looking down on them because of something a white person on tv said to disgust you. You’re acting the same exact way as what you’re accusing these people of doing and it creates more separation.

          We get it you hate terrorism, either in the form of media or in real events, why do you hate people or shut them out of your life? Why not be the bigger man? Stop acting like such a hypocrite.

      • This was incredibly insightful. Thank you for sharing.

  2. See why can you not discuss?

    Putting me down is the defense mechanism.

    I wasn’t harsh. Aggressive. Racist.

    Stay ignorant that’s fine. Ignore someone trying to reach out to you, that’s cool.

    But don’t ever think you’re any better than anyone else. Up here, down there nonsense. Please.

    You’re the one that’s lost and anyone with a rational mindset could see it in your writing.

    stay mad. Stay angry. Avoid us. Won’t matter to me.

    Simply saying there’s so much more to life than being miserable and bottled up with hate. Find happiness my friend. That’s the goal. All this other crap is just here to distract you. White people don’t hate you. Articles like this only, stir the masses on both sides. And instead of finding a way to overcome you just regurgitate things from history to sway readers. You’re right, Hari. let’s just avoid each other and only converse when there is no other option. Let’s keep going down the same path we’ve been because that will surely bring about change and make things better. You’re a genius hari

    Wish you the best nonetheless

    • “Won’t matter to me” and yet you wrote an entire essay basically on why it does matter (that I did not finish reading, by the way, because I do not care).

      Listen, this is not the space for you to come crying about how white people are oppressed by someone not making you the center of attention. At all. You don’t care – I don’t care – great, we’re on the same page. You are welcome to leave. Bye.

      • 1. What is a white person to you?

        2. Do you see yourself talking to White people in the future?

      • You’re comfortable having negative feelings towards white people. You prefer to hate another group rather than your own or yourself for your group or your own groups failures. No group is perfect, just as no group is morally/intellectually superior to another. History demonstrates that. Your attitude of not talking to white people is, you won’t accept this, an ilk of bitterness that you take pride in. It gives you a feeling a superiority. A moral superiority to think of ways in which the white race is the “supreme morally deficient race”. Your aim at ignoring whites and articulating this publicly is a modus operandi of revenge for the injustices of whites on blacks in our nation’s history. It’s a passive aggressive gesture. I’m a moral relativist. I live and let live. Do your thing, it doesn’t matter to me your views because they won’t change the world. Unlike you i don’t talk to anyone at all unless they speak to me. Some days though i do feel that same bitterness that you feel for whites. Ironically, its a bitterness towards blacks for their bitterness towards whites. I’m not interested in your emotional feelings, everyone has them but they wont change the world. ..I’m interested in ideas THAT WILL. If you knew that 9/10 whites would accept you for who you were you’d prefer that they didn’t. Now THAT is the real issue.

  3. A white person in America is someone who never has to endure the consequences of not being black in America. I can’t predict the future. But as for today the only white people I find myself willing and able to discourse with are those who — ironically — can understand and accept — or are honestly trying to understand and accept — why I wouldn’t want to. A great example of what that doesn’t look like would be the first comment preaching to me about the error of my ways.

  4. I get it. I truly do. I try to keep things on a very superficial basis with white people. I absolutely refuse to talk to them about racial issues such as Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, etc. They don’t get it and I am tired of trying to explain things to willfully obtuse people. Getting into deep discussions with white people has always been difficult for me in a way that it’s not with other Blacks or even some other POCs/nonwhites. Sad that it has to be this way but I have to keep my blood pressure/anxiety level down.

    • Imani Ferguson June 24, 2016 — 6:18 pm

      Exactly. They never get it. That’s why I can’t talk with them about it. They always think I’m racist or hating towards them but I’m just telling them that what happened to those people were wrong (Trayvon etc.) I get it too.

  5. I got treated bad by whites in school. They think they are so superior. I don’t talk to them unless I’m at work it’s required.

    • I’m sorry that you got treated bad by white people. I wouldn’t give up on us just yet though, there are great people of all races out there (and bad).

  6. I saw someone mention ‘white culture’. Its clear that they don’t understand what that means, or think they do.

    There is Spanish Culture, French Culture, British Culture, German Culture, Australian Culture etc etc – but white culture?

    What is that exactly? White culture is the culture that was created through slavery; before this, white people couldn’t stop killing each other and didn’t see themselves as a unified entity. When someone says ‘white culture’ or that they are ‘white’ – that says to me that they represent an oppressive culture, one that values nebulous values such as the shade of skin color which in their mind will determine one’s value, intelligence and rights.

    No one in their right mind values this ‘white culture’ and no non racist would admit to being part of it.

  7. The misconception that I often find is that I think by simply saying I am not a racist that will somehow change how someone else feels about me. By saying that, it will somehow take away years of senseless oppression brought upon a race simply because they were seen as inferior. I cannot change your mind about me, nor can I change history. I cannot change the racist who wants to continue to perpetuate stereotypes of what a black or white person is supposed to be. The only thing I can do is hope that the people I come in contact with every day see me as a person, not a white man. Unfortunately, our society can’t seem to figure out if it wants to be equal or embrace everyone’s differences. We are different in many ways but we are the same in many ways as well. Why do I write this? I’m tired of being a racist simply by virtue of the color of skin I was born with. Growing up I would get pissed at my dad for making racist comments. Yes, I heard them. No, I didn’t like them. I vowed to be different than him. I told people I didn’t see color. As I grew up I realized I was considered a racist simply because of the color of my skin. Can I change that fact? No, I am white, and some people will see me as a racist simply because of that. I don’t compare myself and my life to yours. I could never know the indignities suffered by someone of a different race. I write this because I wish things were different. We have a problem that simply ignoring the other race will not fix.

  8. I do not disagree with your point of view, I understand where you come from. You sound like a very intelligent individual. I would like to say you can’t base your experience on this or that but this is probley based on more then you are talking about. I am first generation American and grew up very poor. My question to you is, how big of a roll do you think media plays in race batting or placing the blam on a group of people. Do you think record labels play apart as well? Thank you for your time.

  9. I hate white people. I generally avoid talking to them, and I despise everything that whiteness stands for and does. I am white, pale white, with blonde hair and blue eyes. I didn’t choose to be, I was just born into it. However, I was born into abject poverty, not into any amount of privilege aside from the color of my skin(which I don’t discount).

    In a way I thank god for that, my lifetime of being blue collar and poor as shit, as because of it I am better able to see the world as it actually exists, and not as an abstract idea viewed from the top of a system that is stacked in my favor. If the system is stacked in your favor and it is working for you, and you don’t have the innate integrity and sense of justice of say a Noam Chomsky or a Howard Zinn, then what motivation do you have to REALLY question the system?

    I didn’t always hate white people, but you can only study history so much, and observe the world around you so much, observe the way that communities and people are destroyed, the communities and neighborhoods you live in, the people that you love, before you start to see where the problem lay.

    Studying the history of Latin America as well, the real history, that is a good way to develop a healthy hatred of white people and whiteness as a whole. That goes for a lot of other regions as well. Most tragic injustices, worldwide, throughout history, you can trace back to some white people seeking to increase their already disgusting wealth.

    I grew up in Mexican neighborhoods, I still live in those neighborhoods, and it is the culture that I most closely Identify with. I would really like to relocate to somewhere in Latin America, live simply and give something back to a region that the US has so thoroughly sought to destroy and subjugate, and stop contributing to the system here. That might be irresponsible, but this country has not been good to me, or to my loved ones, and you only got one life, better not waste it by laboring for a system that despises you.

    I don’t really have a point here. So…that is that.

    • I don’t usually reply to comments online, but I was so affected by your words that I had to write you and tell you how much they touched me. I am a Black woman who also doesn’t talk much to white people, but I’d like to – genuinely, especially those like you. If you see me on Facebook, please reach out with a friend request. I’d love to read more of your words.

    • I am a white girl and I believe that everyone should be treated equal! I didn’t have the best life growing up and lived in a bad area. I often got teased for being white. Which brings me to my conclusion a person can be mean no matter there skin color. We are all humans we judge and hut one another. So ones awful experience shouldn’t be blamed on a race. It should be blamed on the person. Why should a whole race get punished for an act of one.

      • It might not be you Allu, but a majority or white people are racist because their peers are racist. If white people are truly nice as you say they are, why is it when given a position of power they join in on the systematic racism. In southern states, they are shutting down DMVs near Black communities so there will be less Black votes in the future because they cant afford to miss work and drive long hours to vote. Lord know we need the money #norestitution. If white people are truly nice as you say they are and “everyone should be treated as equal” why are you not posting your positive views on your fellow redneck whites websites who literally send police officers door to door to challenge their right to vote. This is going on in Sparta, Georgia as of August 2016. See if you do not appear in court to prove your a resident in Sparta, Georgia, they revoke you voting right. So far every last person who was questioned and targeted (180 people) all were black. These people lost days of work to tell white america , “yes I live here” others lost the right to vote. So its a win/win for white people. Why is it you feel the need to comment here when a black person takes a vow of silence and not your fellow racist congressman, Sheriff, politician, judge when they do these awful things . A black person has every right to feel anger/bitter/upset after what happened and is still going on today in 2016. For you to say ” So ones awful experience shouldn’t be blamed on a race. It should be blamed on the person. Why should a whole race get punished for an act of one.” shows your an insensitive asshole because there are racist people in power who truly think ” I hate niggers because nigger”. For you to say just because on person thinks it doesnt mean all think its is Stupid! Majority of whites do, their actions speak it.

        • These so-called racist environments for voting didn’t stop president Obama from becoming president. Furthermore, who specifically is it who ordered that these dmv’s be moved out of majority black neighborhoods? More importantly, what was their intent? How do you know for certain? You dont. Nothing that you said can convinve anyone. I looked into it, there is a dmv which is 15 minutes from Sparta, GA. It’s called the Georgia Department of Driver Services. I bet that a movie theater, concert hall or the mall being over 15 minutes away from Sparta GA wouldn’t stop blacks in that area from getting there. If it were that important to the ones who ride public transit, they would ride public transit to the Dmv and then to the voting booth. Like what people do in New York to do practically everything. Calling this girl names doesn’t make any sense. The only reason that she did is because she couldn’t buy into the author’s opinion, which coincide with your own. White people have been some of the most anti racism people that I’ve met. I doubt strongly that neither you nor the author know many, if any for that matter. So to me you see, it makes sense of why you are so pessimistic towards whites. Remember also that the same attitude towards blacks that the white marginal redneck has is very similar to the negative outlook that many blacks have towards whites. They are both based on fear.

    • @Mike, that was awesome! I consider you a quality human being, I just wish more caucasians had your intelligence and character.

  10. I liked this article, and it makes many fine points to be heard. I’d love to inject a “white person unity message,” but I understand that what needs to happen here is to give that one-way podium to the people who need to be heard. So, while I am sad to say I won’t be making any advances in my life regarding the bridge-building between the racial divide, at least I will hear what is being said and tell others to just listen.

    At this point, that is all we can and need to do. If we don’t listen, we won’t know how to correct this, and we will just keep on keeping on.

    And if we can’t listen, we damn sure can’t do anything else right.

  11. What we also witness is how much white people hate to be labeled “racist” because they are white. Is it not amazing that finally there is a label for the, until now, label-less tribe. All other races have had some sort of label attributed to them – for the most part- by white people. Welcome to the label-full world white people.You have officially entered the game of labels you once were the coaches.

  12. When white people speak to me I usually try to keep it very short because of how unauthentic it feels when talking with them to begin with hard to take seriously, it’s almost like speaking with robots like they are going on a script. Soulless and dead, every one of their actions seems like a act and not the kind of person who they are, the fact smiles don’t help, so that kind of thing immediately turns me off to them.

    • Haha, omg. Okay bro. Well, I don’t want to know you either!

    • At work, I come across whites that act too nice and smile in my face. It seems almost fake. I’ve been burned by them before by their niceness. I learned from experience. Even my white coworker told me his whole family hates blacks, but when he interacts with other blacks, he so friendly on the outside. I try to avoid them at all costs. I’m just trying to survive towards 30. Nice post.

  13. I wish more of you thought this way because I don’t want to listen to black people, so it works out well.
    I just don’t think or care about you and your perpetually awfull lives.

  14. Hey. I am white Italian and living in Italy. I ve little relation with black people in my country but when they occur they are decent. I m scared of all this hate between whites and blacks both sides I see around. Can we remember we re just human and we have to show each other decently politely and if not lovely at least accepting..? From my country America seems a mess with all these racial fears and fighting…. by the way is the only place where people of different corner s of the world intermarriage. Hope and think this is the strength of America. … and the positive evolution of the story. Let’s be human. We are all aware of it. Let’s work for the best …. good luck Americans

  15. Lol!
    You know nothing about me.
    I know you hate me, and “my people”.
    That’s why I don’t fuck with you!
    Then you wonder why. Well guess what, I don’t care about you or your feelings 🙂

  16. I enjoy working with the african americans in my office, and love living in my neighborhood with a diverse make-up. After reading this article and many of the comments, it must be true what I’ve always wondered… My “friends” hate me, don’t really like to talk to me, think I’m fake, etc. But, you know what, I will continue to enjoy all of my co-workers and neighbors because that’s how I was brought-up and who I really am (as a “white” person or various heritages).

  17. You should travel to a few other countries. Your new perspective will give you confidence in how you view the world because it will be clearer and richer.

  18. Jorge Ramos is non White?? Really I guess he gets his light skin and blue eyes from the Aztec. No, anyone who has studied Latin America will know that in many of these countries there exists racial hierarchies with people of mostly European extraction on the top. That is where someone like Ramos fits in in native racist mexico. But in this country he has the nerve to come here and pretend to be the victim.

  19. Jorge Ramos is non White?? Really I guess he gets his light skin and blue eyes from the Aztec. No, anyone who has studied Latin America will know that in many of these countries there exists racial hierarchies with people of mostly European extraction on the top. That is where someone like Ramos fits in in native racist mexico. But in this country he has the nerve to come here and pretend to be the victim.

  20. I don’t like White people period cause they’re stupid as hell

  21. This article hurts my heart. No matter how you were raised, what culture or heritage you hail from, or what your “peers” think about the world and the people in it, we all have a choice in how we view and treat others. I’m a white chick, born and raised in California. In my younger days I dated white, Asian, Armenian, Hispanic, black, and italian guys. Race is a non issue. It’s about people. There are good, bad, ignorant, educated, smart, and stupid people in ALL walks of life. Why we feel the need to group people together as, essentially, one hive mind entity based on the color of their skin, what street they grew up on, what city, state, county, religion, hair color, eye color, sex, heritage, bla bla bla on and on for ever, will always baffle me. I ended up marrying a Venezuelan guy because who in the literal fuck cares about race? It’s petty and should be beneath anyone with half a working brain. This article is depressing and only perpetuates the very thing the author is unhappy about. I need an Advil and a cuddle after reading this. Good lord, how can we grow as human beings if we have such clear lines in the sand? I feel ill. I’m just happy and relieved that the people in my life don’t think the way you do. It must be a cold scary world from the inside of your brain.

    • Nice anecdotal, post-racism rhetoric that basically overlooks the entire point this person is trying to make and centers it around you. “I married a Venezuelan! I’ve dated all races!” Do you know how misinformed you sound? And why did you center your argument on yourself? You don’t experience the same thing Quentin Lucas does, and never will, because you’re a “white chick” and existing in a system that favors white people. As long as white people have held the majority of the wealth, these power dynamics have barely changed. No matter how fair we make the justice system, loopholes seem to always prevail. Money always prevails. Implicit biases favoring light skinned, European-descended, phenotypic expressions always prevails. You need to read up on systemic oppression and how it reinvents itself before you go diminishing Lucas’ perspective as a dark and scary world. This is exactly why he doesn’t want to talk with myopic whites like yourself. It’s exhausting pulling you out of the insulated white cocoon this society offers you. EXHAUSTING and unnecessary emotional labor just to get you to see. Always to get whites to see, and stop ignoring the realities right in front of their faces!! Glitter and farts and color blindness and we’re all equal and treat others the way you want to treated! Those are nice sentiments, but they’re not the reality of what’s going on, and certainly aren’t doing shit to prevent the murders of POCs by the hands of police nor are they stopping the pipeline from going through sacred native land. They’re only letting you live in a bubble, free from the responsibility of doing the work it takes to analyze race relations and systemic oppression, and its intersections, in hopes of earnestly divesting yourself of any unconscious compliance with such a system. The only way you can do that is if you see it. Bravo on proving his point. I’m with him. And your heart hurts…give me a break. His heart hurts! You’re so focused on his “not wanting to talk to white people” that you literally IGNORE and minimize the pain this man is witnessing and I’m sure has felt numerous times. Read: “What Does it Mean to Be White” by Robin DiAngelo. Don’t worry, she’s white so you don’t have to diminish her legitmacy as you did the author of this eloquently written, and heartfelt article. She’s also a Dr. in race relations, so she knows her shit. As do bell hooks, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglass, Michelle Alexander, and numerous others who happen to be people of color but for whatever reason (white supremacy) aren’t filtered into our education systems as readily as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn or books literally all about white people. I always laugh when white people start talking about race as if their anecdotal experiences are the only portrayals, and only valid portrayals, of race relations in this day and age, while ignoring the studies, facts, and scholarly articles that show otherwise– that show and prove you’re wrong. Would you speak the same way to a Dr. of Biology discrediting an idea towards safer anti-microbial practices? A physicist discrediting/the blueprint to a time traveling space capsule? How about a psychologist/sociologist/ anthropologist refuting the implicit bias of society at large as a healthy mental state? Then why is understanding race relations so fucking hard for whites, especially when the people doing the work are more educated, well-spoken, and well-versed in the matter? There are literally thousands of sources you could be utilizing and integrating factual information from for yourself, but instead you uphold your opinion as entirely factual when it’s pretty much just an opinion, and anecdotal at best. It’s hard for you to go about doing the work because it challenges your perception of reality. You discredit it because it hurts. That hurt you’re feeling is exactly where he’s coming from, only his hurt was produced by white supremacy/ racial oppression and is continually perpetuated by all people (including some POCs) who uphold a “white is ideal” standard. Yours was produced by your own ignorance. Educate yourself before you make a fool of yourself.

  22. if you really want to know how, “MANY” white feel???? well they told us loud and clear! on november 8th 2016, donald j trump was elected president!!! need I saw more??? the usa better pray that theres no God!! because a just God would surely wipe this PIECE OF SHIT off the face of the planet!!

    • To be fair, Hillary is the WORST candidate the democrats could have picked. Utterly corrupt. Who’d vote for her? Remember, it’s not the party affiliation that sank her, it’s her own backroom dealings, scandals, and agendas. Trump was clean by comparison. His lack of a political background gives voters hope that he is limited in the damage he can do, whereas Hillary has mainstream media going to bat for her with ready-made alibis, as well as having so many political connections that she can pretty much do anything she wants, illegal or not, and get away with it (like selling government positions of influence, illegal, to non-citizens from hostile foreign countries, even worse). Right now, ANYBODY else would have been in prison for less than HALF of what’s on her plate.

  23. P.s. – The article was awesome. So well written it gave me goosebumps. I’m sure most of these people who are quick to attack you barely read scholarly articles or anything on race relations apart from what Fox or CNN spews at them. I’m afraid they may not have the tools (factual foundation) to hear what you’re saying, but that isn’t the point of this article. The point is: you don’t care to talk to them unless it’s absolutely necessary, or they’re actually capable of listening, and I so understand and respect that. Self-preservation and solidarity to you! Inner peace all the way! It hurts seeing what the majority doesn’t or refuses to see. But of course when the majority of people refuses to see you, you’re motivated to see through everything. Glad I found this. Thank you for your perception and fluidity with words. This is so under-applauded! All the thumbs up! All the applause! ??

  24. I was looking for an answer to why so many black persons have ignored my approaches to small-talk. You answered this perfectly. The other persons’ comments helped illustrate this too.

    We all lose with such a decision, we truly do. But I understand it completely.
    Great article.

  25. It’s funny because the dumb dumbs, once again, made racism about themselves. Everything comes back to their experiences and their feelings. They are, collectively, an apathetic and soulless people (guilty feed ain’t got no rhythm, they can’t dance). I choose to stop interacting with them as well, unless it is absolutely necessary, or, they have done some actual work to dismantle white supremacy, not just feel bad about race relations, given the history of white people, colonization, white supremacy, institutional racism (all this they have benefited from) all POC and blacks should stop interacting with them until they stop benefiting from their skin color. Thank you for the confirmation and the insight!

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