A Righteous Rant

White Ignorance Causes Black Angst: Stop Playing Innocent, Oblivious and Getting Pay-Amnesia

A case study in Caucasian frustration — it’s time to admit — you don’t CARE about us because if you did — you’d do better

There is something about unapologetic racists I kind of appreciate because I always know where I stand… and that’s far, far away.

So, to all my bold, redneck — in your face racists — THANK YOU for not lulling me into a false sense of security and making me think you actually care about my humanity or want to be inclusive when you’re perfectly fine — living in your all-white world, doing all the white things you like to do.

Thank you for not including me in your places of business, professional, social circles, and social media. Thank you for not inviting to anything and anywhere where my mind, body or spirit would be in jeopardy of being hurt or degraded.

I appreciate the authenticity of your explicit, overt, and blatant bias, prejudice and discriminatory practices that keep me out of harm’s way.

It’s the cowardly conservative Christians and Privilettas who bask in the obnoxious glow of power and privilege that are the most problematic. They love to throw nasty stones, and hide behind oblivion, denial and the shield of patriotism, law and order, and respectability politics (they rarely adhere to). All these phrases are just coded euphemisms wrapped around good ol’ fashion racism, sexism and all the other isms that maintain their status and comfort.

Then, there are the neoliberals who think their proximity to Black people give them a pass to make rude, insensitive comments and racist jokes. Then when you call them out, they become insulted or smile politely and do gross things with your food, file complaints before talking to you or call the police because you’re Black or brown and they don’t know why — but there’s something about us that bothers them and it’s somehow our fault.

You know — like the hairless, lipless, super rich Muppet who Fox News keeps rewarding for his race baiting conspiracy theories and hateful rhetoric — that makes excuses for the good ol’ boys who’s words and actions were clear.

But in the real world — Black and brown people have to deal with this mess:

Scenario #1 — White guy Tweets: Hey I’m on a writing platform who should I follow? The first writer to respond is a Black man, and about 15 other people from diverse backgrounds responded. Several hours go by and I noticed he ignored everyone except 2 men — guess what race they were — they were white…Wow that is truly telling about who he really wanted to follow

Scenario #2 — White male writer on same platform has an insulting piece about Black face. Black writers explained how hurtful and confusing it was. At first, his defense was “it’s satire” and ended his obnoxious rebuttal implying that it was over our heads and “it’s supposed to make people uncomfortable”. Other white male writers cheered him on… He admitted he knew it was offensive, but it wasn’t going to stop him.

Scenario #3 — Big company X’s VP puts out a call for Black artists. The CEO of a small, Black owned firm reaches out with excitement. Company X’s VP, a white woman “leans in” and explains that it’s a special project and they have a limited budget to increase their “diversity”. (Limited — diversity seems to be a perpetual theme). After 12 conversations and email exchanges to clarify terms, they draft a detailed announcement that included submission instructions. They even included the (very low) non-negotiable flat rate. because she said she was “committed to transparency”. The CEO emails the announcement (CC’g the VP), and the firm’s artists quickly submit quality work.

Two days later, the CEO follows up with the VP and submits the first invoice. The VP said she was very pleased with the art and had already put several pieces on display. Then, as if they had never discussed terms, the VP tells the CEO that they should have negotiated and confirmed the price before they did the work. Confused, the CEO, asks — should they revise the announcement to include the new payment confirmation step.

The VP said, no. Then, she added that she would pay “this time, as an exception”, but the fee would process through a 3rd party service which takes a percentage, and they need additional forms completed to “start” the payment process.

The confirmation step nor the 3rd party payment vendor were never discussed in any of the previous conversations or emails. The VP from company X finally admitted that they’ve never paid any previous minority contractors and apologized for the firm being the first to see them “work the kinks out the system” (no pun intended), but added that her staff would “get to it when they can”.

The Black CEO was left carrying the heavy weight of introducing his artists to this white company that only cared about performative diversity. The white VP prided herself in making the offer and getting Black and brown faces and art. Yet, she didn’t care enough to confirm how and when her “diversity hires” would get paid.

Her only apology was with a laugh and there wasn’t a sense of urgency to pay the pennies she offered for the goods/work she proudly admitted to using.

The VP didn’t seem to understand the extra work, embarrassment, and potential problems this caused the CEO. The CEO had to hold a special meeting with the artists that already submitted their work to distribute the new payment form. Most importantly, he had to apologize for the delay in payment (even though it wasn’t his fault) and ask for patience as he explained the new confirmation step and payment details. The Black CEO was left carrying the heavy weight of introducing his artists to this white company that only cared about performative diversity. The white VP prided herself in making the offer and getting Black and brown faces and art. Yet, she didn’t care enough to confirm how and when her “diversity hires” would get paid.

In all three scenarios Black people walked into each situation hopeful and thinking there would be a positive outcome and the ignorance, dismissive and careless actions of white people ruined the dream. How can we, as Black business owners and creatives trust white executives and administrators when they renege on promises and gaslight us? It’s frustrating to have people keep playing with our time, talents and money.

Two scenarios involve white people actively engaging with the Black community and when Black people shared their perspectives and problem with how the white person handled the situation; the white person acted like they didn’t understand and insulted the Black person’s intelligence. When in both cases, it was the white person who apparently wasn’t clear about their message, request, or process. If the white people in these scenarios would have been honest about what they wanted, admitted their mistakes or lack of experience, as soon as possible — there wouldn’t have been a problem.

Solutions and Conclusion

Scenario #1 — He should delete the tweet and do the hard work of reading and following white, male writers because he obviously wasn’t interested in making any Black or brown friends. He just wanted to meet other white men which is his right; but posting on Twitter gave the appearance that it was an open request — when it was targeted. He wasted a lot of nice, talented and earnest writers of color’s time with his covert call for white only writers.

Scenario #2 — He should take down the Black face post and the platform needs better screening systems and screeners from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to remove offensive posts so arrogant, racists can’t pass off their poorly written, insensitive, tongue in cheek hate speech as satire. The Black people who read his work aren’t stupid. He simply didn’t write a thought-provoking satirical essay and his poor writing skills aren’t a reflection or evidence of Black people’s poor comprehension skills or thin skin.

Scenario#3 — IS THE WORST: White companies please stop asking Black and brown people to help you with your diversity initiatives (because you can never seem to find us) if you haven’t worked out a plan to compensate us in a timely manner. But most importantly, please stop expecting us to be happy and content while you “take your time to work out the kinks…” Time is money and our time is just as valuable as yours -so stop wasting our time if you don’t have our money, honey!

Part 2: Exploring Pay Amnesia

I wish I could say this was a one off — but almost every Black person has repeatedly experienced white people’s pay amnesia- money game since they had to start paying us for our labor and white women have perfected this humiliating and highly problematic behavior pattern.

Gone are the days where white people get to say and do whatever they want and say Black and brown people are crazy when we’re not happy when you dismiss, gaslight and play dumb or can’t, won’t, engage, communicate, or do your jobs properly.

Being in a place of leadership and not care enough to even ask how or when people are going to be compensated is irresponsible and astonishingly inept, especially in this economy.

I wish I could say this was a one off — but almost every Black person has repeatedly experienced white people’s pay amnesia (money game) since they had to start paying us for our labor; and white women have perfected this humiliating and highly problematic behavior pattern.

It either starts with them fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, disappearing or them saying, “Did you need something?” in a snarky, condescending manner. Then, the weird game of awkward stares and pauses begins.

You stand there frustrated, taking deep breaths and swallowing your pride between asking yourself, “Why do they do this — every time.”

You have to play the — “I’ve got to go, but I need you to pay me first” nervous smile and stare dance… It’s like they need to hear us ask/beg them for the money we earned.

White people do it at work, when we’re on business trips and dinners and anytime a person of color is in a service position. It’s the:

How much do I owe you again? You’re gonna have to wait while I recalculate, didn’t I already pay you, wait outside while I get the money” song and dance.

We’ve given you the total and review the order and you still play like they don’t know. I’ve seen six-figure department heads to secretaries haggle over tips and bills under $5.00. It’s like white people want us to confront them to get paid and then make us feel guilty and greedy for asking. Sadly, even if they’re wrong — they never apologize.

In severe cases, they pay us only a portion and then complain that we didn’t do something right and our partial payment is a punishment, or they intentionally defraud us, and it ends with them throwing our money on the ground, not paying us at all. Now we’re left with a burned bridge.

I argue that racial wage disparities are also systemic and deeper levels of pay amnesia. Regardless of the Black person’s credentials, experience and proven record; I’ve seen how white people still find a way to discredit, devalue and dismiss a Black candidate and hire a white candidate with lesser or ZERO qualifications. The justification is often, “they seem like a good fit”. Power and privilege ensures that white potential will win over Black qualifications 95% of the time.

When ever this occurs — it’s humiliating. To quote Rihanna, “Pay me what you owe me, don’t act like you forgot!”

The world is filled with Black and brown people. When will the ignorance, hateful and dismissive behavior stop? You don’t run in a playground scream who wants to be my friend and ignore all the Black and brown kids with open arms and expect the Black people to act like you’re not ignoring them.

You don’t get to hurt us, and we just say ouch and cry alone. Now we’re calling you out, fighting back and we’re bringing friends and allies — not to cancel you all as people — but to cancel the ignorant and racist behavior. These scenarios aren’t petty misunderstandings — they’re hurtful, dehumanizing microaggressions.

Why is accountability so hard for so many white people? You have a hard time correcting, arresting each other, or even reminding each other to do the right thing — it’s so annoying.

Here is how you do better:

Just speak your truth and treat Black and brown people with sincere, kindness, courtesy, and respect and if you don’t know how- fake it till you make it. Or just admit you’re a racist and stop interacting with us.

We observe life through the lens of experience and intersectionality. We reflect, share and welcome dialogue. Let the laughter, learning & healing begin!

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