Posted in Blog, Mental Health

When Your White Friends Turn Out To Be Racists

Last year I was extremely angry about the way that white British people were treating me for speaking my truth: why am I getting abuse just for saying that racism exists in our country? Why are you telling me that I do not belong here? I soon then realised that I could not fight every single troll that was coming at me, especially when it was becoming detrimental to my mental health. Some days my phone would be going crazy with notifications from threads I had become involved in, because I thought that I could reason with such people, only to end up in them abusing me even more.

Mostly the abuse was coming from strangers on social media, most recently on my YouTube channel: 

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 07.02.51

I no longer engage in accusations from strangers.

In regards to my white friends, I had either fallen out with them or just withdrawn from them. Because I had never wanted/ needed to be seen as Black, my colour, race and culture had never been an issue in our friendship, but now I did want to be seen as Black, which surprised the friends I ended up falling out with because suddenly they were not allowed to make racist comments around me while I laughed it off, but died inside.

I’ve stayed friends with some old friends, some of who have now revealed themselves to have only pretended to be onboard with my newfound Blackness; some of these people still think that they can get away with saying anti-black things to me, because they cannot perceive my blackness.

Here are two examples: 

One guy was a friend I knew from church (this was years ago). He knew that I fancied him, but led me on knowing that he was going to emigrate indefinitely. To say that I was heartbroken is an understatement. I was devastated because I had genuinely thought I had a connection with this guy, however now in hindsight I realise that it could never be because I was black and he looked down on me. After a couple of years in Australia, he moved to Zambia, to begin a career in ministry work. I didn’t want to believe that he was a ‘white saviour’ who looked down upon the people he was working with and claiming to help, however the more and more emails I received from him talking about the Zambians, the more it became clear that he was racist. Still, I was in denial. I was once in love with this guy (or so I had thought), how can he be fucking racist? I would’ve known, surely. So when he shared his number, I decided to send him a message to see how he was. His emails are generally addressed because he’s emailing a group of us, so I wanted to see how he came across on a personal level; was he the same guy I knew years ago? Would I be proved wrong?

When I asked him about Zambia, he replied that he couldn’t believe how modern it was and that it surprised him that there were supermarkets and a stadium. This is problematic for two reasons: one, because he had confirmed his racial biases which hadn’t changed even though he was now living in an African country, and two, because he had clearly forgotten that he was talking to a black woman – why would you tell a Black woman of Caribbean and African ancestry that you are surprised at how capable her people are???? When I called him out on this, he became defensive, including pointing out the fact that the Zambians were more racist about themselves than him and if it wasn’t for him they would have no self-esteem, (only proving the ‘white saviour’ trope and their beliefs that Black Africans are incapable of being anything without the white man) which obviously upset me more:

Screenshot_20180627-213232_WhatsApp

Notice that he mentions the “race card”… can somebody please enlighten me on what this “card” actually looks like and how I can get hold of it, because according to white-supremacists, it is this powerful card which can be used to change the direction of the game of life!

The Race Card(Image source)

Note to white people: don’t tell me about your black friends just to prove how un-racist you are! IT DOESN’T WORK! He’s also clearly lying about black people agreeing with him. 

He also made some homophobic comments (unfortunately I forgot to screenshot them), in an attempt to conflate how gay people hate themselves just as Black people hate themselves and I ended up having to block him and calling him a c*** on facebook so that that all of our mutual friends could see what he had done to me and who this person really was. I also blocked him on there and via email so that he couldn’t contact me again. Our Black mutual friends actually weren’t surprised to hear what he had done and now that I admit it, neither was I.

The second example was a friend I met on social media. We appeared to get on so well that we actually came close to meeting in real life at one point, however as always life gets in the way. Plus, soon warning alarms signalled when he once asked me if he guest post on my blog, because I had more followers than him. Considering that my blog is unapologetically written from a Black perspective, I found it strange that as a white man he thought that blogging on my platform would be appropriate. It hence became clear to me that he wasn’t paying as much attention to my posts as he had initially claimed. He also commented on one of my youtube videos, with a “not all white people comment” when I was discussing how traumatic it is to be British but feel unwanted in my own country and the country I was born in, and perceived as an immigrant because of the colour of my skin. The video was about how watching the movie Black Panther had only enhanced this feeling of unwant. Again, I found his commentary to be inappropriate, because I clearly wasn’t talking about all white people and the video was about my feelings not his as a white person.

The final straw came when he commented on a tweet I posted of an clip from an LBC radio show, where a racist had called in to say that he wouldn’t be supporting the England football team because there were too many Black players on the team, therefore he was hoping that they would lose because of this. Again, this same guy comments on my tweet, being defensive about this not being all white people and that in his opinion racism was no longer as big an issue as it used to be, because he had never experienced it or seen it in his thirty-odd years. Let me remind you that this guy is white.

Joe1

But they do exist? Actually, more racism happens than white people tend to believe which is why non-white people are consistently gaslighted. To ignore this fact, is problematic.

Joe4

This white guy is telling a Black person who suffers from racism on a daily basis, that the amount of people like this is decreasing, when actually in the age of social media, it isn’t. Furthermore, racism hasn’t always been labelled as wrong because there is a constant conflict between white people and people like me who suffer from racial trauma on what counts as racism. In fact, racism in the UK is extremely insidious, making it just as psychologically traumatic as the explicit racism we see in other Western countries. Therefore, this comment is extremely harmful. 

A friend who is also a Black woman came onboard because she also found his responses to be problematic. In the end, I blocked him. He then sent me an email with the subject line “you’re overreacting” and demanded that I unblock him, while also attempting to assure me that he was not a racist. I never called him a racist, he had just chosen to expose himself as one on multiple occasions.

Now, I have been accused of being rash when it comes to my reactions to situations like this. When people start to act wild around me, I cut them out of my life, which voyeurs then link to the angry, irrational Black woman stereotype. But, firstly I need to put my health first and anybody who claims to be a friend or family member whose negative behaviour is provoking my conditions, needs to be cut out of my life. Secondly, I’ve come to a point in my life where I will no longer put up with shit. Up until my late-twenties, I was letting every tom, dick and harry walk all over me, just so that they could have an easy life, while disregarding my own feelings, which is also why I let my white friends be racist around me and pretend to be in on the joke – I used to be so afraid of calling them out and “causing trouble” that I just let them carry on. But now I know who I am and I have a lot more self-respect for myself.

Also, my actions are not rash. As you can see in the two examples I’ve given, I don’t want to automatically write off all white people as racists – especially when they are in my life. And I gave them plenty of chances to fix up, look sharp. It’s also why I put up with my family’s abuse for so long. But there comes a point where I have to snap, because like an elastic band, if you stretch me enough I’m going to fucking break and catch you in the eye.

XOXO

P.S. If you’re not already following me on social media, why the heck not???

Twitter: Cece_Alexandra

Insta: Cece_Alexandra

YouTube: The Black Wallflower in Wonderland

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Author:

I’m Cece Alexandra and I have Epilepsy. Since being diagnosed, my life has changed significantly. After studying and teaching Humanities and Literature for all of my adult life, I was bullied and lost my job a month before qualifying to become an English Teacher. Once you fail the Teacher Training course in England, you cannot ever retrain; I then became too sick to work because of my Epilepsy. I am now currently studying an MSc in Mental Health Psychology with the University of Liverpool. My disability provokes me into raising awareness for invisible disabilities, which I also actively partake in with Epilepsy Action. Part of that awareness is to help fight against invisible disability discrimination - I believe that this behaviour is not cognitively unconscious; modern society is actively partaking in a hierarchy of disabilities and I believe that there is not enough psychological research to prove this. I am also clinically interested in Cultural Psychology - particularly Collectivist Culture, and wish to pursue this further in my academic career.

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