One of the most surprising things to me when I first started publicizing my allyship nurturance work, which is based on the fundamental idea that allyship starts with an allyship to self, is angry opposition from white people. And I am not talking about white nationalists. I have yet to be spoken at aggressively by what most people would call ‘racist white people’ for my work.
What I have encountered are white people who are upset that I am letting them off the hook too easily. That I am doing something terribly egregious by wanting to hold compassionate space for white people in their healing of personal and cultural trauma. That I am even exercising my privilege as an Asian person and throwing other POCs under the bus.
If you are this person, sure, I will give you my anger. I won’t let you off easy. I will call you out.
It is a privilege in of itself to dismiss or reject my compassion. This is not something that people of colour (POCs) can afford. If you were to open your hearts truly to us POCs, we would have no choice but to accept it, for the sake of our own safety and well being.
So NO, it’s NOT up to you to speak about whether my stance is appropriate or not.
I am a POC. Certainly not the least privileged of POCs, but still a POC.
You, as a white person don’t get speak to me as if I have never felt ashamed of my body for not being white. Never have been exoticized by intimate partners. Never had anyone tell me that they performed my culture better than me. Never have been directly and indirectly intimidated by white supremacists. Never had racial slurs directed at me. Never had anyone imitate my ‘accent’ right in front of me. Never felt terrified and sad that our lives don’t matter as white ones.
I hold you, as a white person, in a loving way, regardless.
But you will never know how hard I fought, as a POC, to be here so that I can hold you in a non-judgemental and loving way.
When you reject my acceptance of you angrily, you are repeating what white supremacy has always done: devaluing and taking for granted POC wisdom, resilience, and love. You are also taking up emotional space in the exact ways that are unhealthy to our relationship. This is not OK with me.
Yes, you do get to decide whether you accept my offerings. That is totally up to you. Healing is one of the scariest and most vulnerable things you can ask anyone to do. So I totally get it if feels like now is not your time. There is no rush. There is an ebb and flow in the universe that guides us in these matters.
And also, I am happy to engage with other POCs about whether I am too gentle or not. I am happy to have deep conversations with them about what a diverse and holistic approach to racial justice looks like. I am happy to learn from them about perspectives I wouldn’t have without their input and make sure I am not leaving them behind or letting them down.
But, as a white person, you don’t get to decide whether my non-judgemental acceptance for you is right or wrong. That is not up to you.
For now, you’re just going to have to deal with me and get used to it.