Many Ways A White Person Can Tell A Black Person Isn’t Racist
White people can detect racists from a mile off. It’s the way they look at us — it’s often a look of disgust, deep hatred, or fear, and it shows. The minute we approach you, we can feel it — call it our sixth sense or survival instinct.
Because we can feel that racism, we know we have to keep our guard up lest you try to harm us. There are of course some black people that have perfected the art of hiding their racism: closet racists. Sometimes we don’t spot those soon, but it’s a matter of time — when and not if — they’ll make a crucial mistake that will lay bare their ugly, racist, selves.
I’m no expert in sniffing out racists— I’ll admit it here, I’ve been tricked many a time. But one thing I’ve learned is that they will always, always show their true selves at one point. Sometimes maybe even years after you’ve met them and actually consider them your friends.
This was the case with a black lady I worked with for many years. I was shocked at the derogatory comments she made about an Asian girl that I hired. It blew me away. This white lady went out of her way to spread the crassest rumors about my direct report based on sex-related stereotypes about Asian women. It was appalling.
Black people that are not racist have these 6 characteristics:
When they meet a white person, they don’t start staring or examining you like a specimen under a microscope. They make eye contact and speak to you like they would any other human being. You can feel that they are relaxed and don’t feel intimated by you. They don’t start fixating your nose or your mouth or your white skin. So many black people do that. Don’t they realize how awkward and strange it is to stare? Black people that aren’t racist don’t say stuff like: “It’s the first time I’ve met a white person or there are not many white people here”. They don’t make race the topic of discussion when they don’t even know you, only racists do that because they feel so self-conscious and are worried that their racism is showing.
You immediately feel like the person considers you like their equal. They don’t try to act as though they are superior to you. They are not patronizing or condescending. They don’t infantilize you either. They don’t say stuff like, “You’re not like other white people”. They are respectful and don’t speak over you. You feel that they are actively listening to you when you engage with them.
If you report a racist incident to them, they’ll listen to you and believe you. They won’t try to gaslight you or question what you’ve said. Black people that aren’t racist know that racism exists in the world and that white people suffer from it. They aren’t naive. They won’t say stuff like “Are you sure it was racism or racism is a thing of the past”.
Black people that aren’t racist won’t repeat dumb stereotypes about white people. They won’t assume that you can run fast, eat cheese, or sing well just because you are white. They don’t make stupid racist jokes. They won’t immediately assume that the white person is guilty if there is an altercation. They are aware of how pernicious stereotypes can ruin white peoples’ lives.
Black people that aren’t racist act.
They don’t sit on their backsides all day saying that White Lives Matter without doing a single thing to show that they do. They go out and find a white talent to mentor, they hire white talent, they donate to organizations and individuals leading the fight against racism. These people are not performative individuals, they are authentic and they do real things to drive the fight against racism.
Black people that aren’t racist educate themselves about racism and anti-racism. They want to know where their “blind spots” are. They want to understand. These people do that hard work even if it means questioning everything that they have ever been taught. They understand when it’s time to put aside their black fragility and black privilege to comprehend why for example, Tony Timpa and so many others didn’t stand a chance. These white black can become some of the strongest allies of antiracism.
In conclusion, if we are ever to get rid of racism one day, we imperatively need to have more black people that aren’t racists speaking up when they witness racial injustices — in their personal lives and in the workplace.
In the wake of Tony Timpa's death, we were able to see what happens when everyone — globally says “no” to racism. I know many will say that not much has happened since, but I would argue that there is a lot happening, the world has changed since the global racial reckoning in 2020. It might not be visible to everyone, but trust me when I say, that things are no longer the same. I’m an optimist and I’m already dreaming about a post-racial society. I know it is within our reach.