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Some time last year I was subjected to one of, if not the most racist encounters and displays of white fragility of my whole life. It involved my now ex girlfriend and her parents. They seemed nice when I first met them, but then everyone seems nice when you first meet them because they wanna display the best version of themselves. I wasn’t really looking that deep into anything they were saying at first but then I started to notice how they’d mention black people and tell stories involving black people quite often. So I just casually mentioned it one day to my ex and she said she was noticing it as well. I think it was a mixture of them being acutely aware of the colour of my skin and them trying to make it look like they weren’t racist. The last thing I want as a mixed race person is for any extra attention or even any attention at all to be drawn to the colour of my skin, which is exactly what that behaviour did. I didn’t say anything to them, I just took a mental note of it and started to be more vigilant and guarded in case anything else was said. The next thing that happened was when I was in the car with them, they had the radio on and then her dad started talking about all the great singers he liked, all of them were black. Then he brought up Kanye West and was talking about how mad he is, so I said “I think he’s got bipolar”, then he brought up the time when he stormed the stage when Taylor Swift won an award. So I said “yeah I think he was trying to draw attention to the fact that white people are favoured more in the music industry and awards shows over black people”. He completely ignored what I said and said “he shouldn’t have done that”, her mom was silent and so was my ex, so I just felt like an outsider and like what I mentioned wasn’t cared about. To be fair to my ex, even before any of this happened she’d already mentioned the book ‘Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race’ to me, that’s how I know about the book in the first place, so she was trying to educate herself on race but she just wasn’t aware of what I mentioned in the car, so after what happened in the car I told her how I felt about it and that I needed her to speak up and have my back in future if I mention something to do with race. She said she would.

Just to give some context, her dad isn’t just ignorant about race, he’s ignorant about a lot of things, and he’s one of those alpha male types who loves the sound of his own voice and talks at you not to you, so I figured out early on that he wasn’t the type to have an open conversation with. He also tells ‘jokes’ but they’re not really jokes, they’re just offensive comments that aren’t funny and are passed off as jokes. He also thinks in stereotypes, she bought me some flowers with glitter on them and her dad said “she’s not gonna like them”, he never took the time to get to know me so I’m guessing he said that because I’m a tomboy and why would a tomboy like something ‘girly’ like flowers or glitter? Surely I’d like some tickets to a football match instead. I do like playing football by the way and sorry for melting anyone’s brain with this but I also like flowers and glitter *cue shock and disbelief *. After all of these instances, and another difference of opinion on another matter which led to him storming out of my ex’s house and being petty by not saying good bye to me, I decided to limit the amount of time I spent around them for the sake of my own sanity. Then one day when she was at mine on the phone to her dad he was telling her about something that happened that day, and I noticed how out of all the people he mentioned, the black woman was the only person he described racially. Unless it’s relevant there’s no need to describe any one by their race. I told her I wasn’t gonna accept any lifts from him or be in the car with him again because his comments and ignorance were just intolerable, which she was fine with. After that there was a time when she really wanted to see me, I couldn’t get to her place because I didn’t have my car any more and I didn’t have any money til I got paid, she said her dad would pick me up and take us to hers, I really did not wanna get in the car with him and I refused to multiple times but I gave in eventually because she really wanted to see me. He picked me up and I was just thinking to myself it won’t be for long and I’ll be away from him soon, then he starts telling the story that he told my ex on the phone, she text me and “said shall I say something?”, I said yeah and she said she was scared to because she didn’t know how he was gonna react because he’s got anger issues. She asked him in a calm way why he described the woman as black but not the white people as white. He got so defensive and aggressive about it and started saying things like “you’re calling me racist?”, “so I’m racist now am I?” and accused her of stirring up trouble. She said she wasn’t stirring up trouble she was stirring up his emotions because it’s an uncomfortable topic. He continued to be dismissive and said he didn’t wanna talk about it and stayed silent when she kept asking questions, then suddenly he aggressively said “if someone’s got a problem with it they should say it to me” obviously referring to me. I was blown away by his reaction. When we got to hers I thanked him for the lift, contrary to popular belief (the angry black woman) I have got manners and I’m polite, then I got out the car. After that she repeatedly tried to explain to her parents over text and facebook why what her dad said was offensive and how his reaction had affected me. It was all dismissed and denied and I was called a ‘snowflake’, yet they’d still ask her how I was when they spoke. It’s a shame they didn’t care how I was when we were in the car. She told me she didn’t want them in her life any more, I said she didn’t have to stop speaking to them because of me and that I didn’t expect her to stop speaking to them but she already had issues with them from childhood so I think that was the last straw. I was accused by my ex’s dad of brainwashing her, if loving someone and wanting to educate yourself about their oppressive life experiences is what you call being brainwashed then I guess I did brainwash her. Of the 4 relationships I’ve been in with women, 3 of them have been white, but I’d never experienced anything like that in a relationship and I never wanna experience it ever again.

What we’re seeing now on the world stage with all the attention on Black Lives Matter is a mixture of white fragility and performative action and ally-ship, especially from big corporations. Posting blackout pictures and donating money to black causes isn’t gonna do anything, people think they can just throw money at something and everything’s ok and be done with it. Educate yourself and others, take an interest in black culture, not because you feel like you have to but because you want to, support black businesses by shopping there, create space in your life or your business for black people. Get out of your own little bubble for once. I don’t know why anyone wouldn’t wanna learn about and experience different cultures. I’ve come across so many people from different cultures in my life. Romanian, French, Polish, Latvian. It’s bizarre to me how people just stick with what they know and what they’re familiar with. We’re a whole world of people so let’s start acting like it.

Thank you H for allowing me to share this.