Dear white people: this article is not for you. Continue to dig deep within your souls to find racism and perhaps we’ll connect later. Yes, racism exists. It has and continues to shape outcomes from housing and employment to police shootings rooted in white fear of “the darker brother.” Still, we should pretend Weezy is a genius and adopt his fantasy. Screaming about racism and posting articles on Facebook about the subject has never made you one dollar. Further, the most brilliant scholarship on the topic has seemingly not changed one thought in the collective conscience of white America. Toni Morrison said it best: racism is just one big distraction that “keeps you from doing your work.” The work is to ensure that our children no longer have to beg white people to be nicer to them.
If you haven’t, you should read Toni Morrison’s entire quote. Her point is that racism, although quite real, will only suck you into an ongoing cycle of wasted energy if you allow it to. No amount of achievement will exorcise the racism demon from people. Jesse Owens won four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics but it was not enough for President Roosevelt to invite him to the White House or even congratulate him. Owens later said, “Hitler didn’t snub me – it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send me a telegram.” No amount of data will correct the issue. Hell, white folks saw a tape of Rodney King getting beat and convinced themselves that it didn’t happen so what chance does your scholarly research have? Perhaps, unknowingly, Weezy was onto something.
To be clear, Lil Wayne is an idiot. After all, he is the same genius who had to walk back the lyrics, “Beat that pussy up like Emmett Till.” Further, Wayne can’t actually believe racism is nonexistent. Have you heard his song, “DontGetIt?” No way. My point is, as Toni Morrison suggested, the energy we put to trying to undo it from the minds of white folks or convert souls on the topic is better spent on working toward power. Yes, politicians say racist things but the better solution to that is choosing a candidate from amongst us, donating to their campaign, knocking on doors and ensuring they get elected. Corporations exploit us, pull endorsements from athletes who are too “pro-black” and the like but rather than waste energy on getting an apology, why not support our own companies? Yes, banks are routinely caught discriminating against black borrowers but in the time you spend screaming about the racism, you could have gotten your senator to back serious penalties against that bank and also worked on strengthening the black owned bank in your city.
If your real interest is simply screaming about racism then I can see why the solutions above would not interest you. I just ask that you be honest and admit that you could care less about working toward real progress and black liberation. None of these gains can be realized if we continue to allow racism and racists to absorb our energies and focus. Yes, racism is real and in no way can we subscribe to the notion that it does not exist–doing so can literally cost us our lives. What I am arguing for is not denial but rather, to ignore. We should divest our energy and focus from highlighting racism and trying to persuade others to forsake their racist ways. Racism should just be assumed, it is what our country was built on and that will change no time soon. Lil Wayne went way too far in saying that it does not exist and obviously I can’t agree with that. However, for the sake of our own progress we should just ignore it and commit to the real work of liberation. That doesn’t happen simply by telling white folks what they already know.