TRA friend and BLM

(247 Posts)
maudavery Tue 16-Jun-20 05:55:48

I have a very woke friend, she has always been very outspoken on the trans issue but on social media she is surprisingly quiet at the minute, perhaps because JKR has made such brilliant points that it is difficult to argue against. So instead she has been posting a lot about BLM, trying to “educate” her white friends (she is white) about racism and recommend lots of reading. It is normal during this reading to feel defensive and uncomfortable she says. She invites us to DM her so that we can talk about these feelings. She doesn’t intend to sounds preachy and self righteous. She has then listed about 50 forms of covert white supremacy. Some of them I am aware of eg white hero complex, after the Stacey Dooley affair, (but then I wonder, is my friend not demonstrating this herself in her incessant drive to educate others about racism on behalf of people of a different race?)

I always thought not being racist was fairly straightforward- judge people by the content of the character, not the colour of their skin. But apparently this is no longer the case. I need to educate myself (I read very widely and have always read a lot of books by BAME authors, but she is recommending non fiction on the issue of race itself). I’m struggling with it to be honest. “White silence” is a covert act of white supremacy but then because there are seemingly an infinite amount of ways I can be covertly racist, no wonder people are silent because there are so many Microaggressions and covert forms of racism that to say anything at all is risky. (Eg it is racist to tell a black person they are “articulate”) But silence is violence. I just think the whole thing is authoritarian and intolerant the same way that “transwomen are women” is. And if I were to come out as GC on social media, which I have not been brave enough to do yet, then she would dismiss me as a terf and ergo because I don’t sign up to the package deal of the extreme left, I’m probably racist too.

For the record, I work at an outstanding inner city school with a high amount of BAME students. Day in and day out For the last 5 years I have built up relationships with kids of all backgrounds and led my department so that the students achieve excellent academic outcomes. I have diversified the curriculum, but I have also tried to change the curriculum to ensure it is academically challenging and gives our students the “cultural capital” that their more advantaged peers take for granted. I think this is a more meaningful demonstration of my own antiracism than posting a black square on my Instagram, but the former is me being a “white saviour” while the latter is “violence” through silence.

I think black lives matter, I understand why “all lives matter” is wrong, but at the same time, BLM as a political movement is something I cannot support - it’s aims are the end of the nuclear family, the defunding of the police and the overthrowing of capitalism. I also think the conflation of race with certain political beliefs is problematic in itself - a point Priti Patel made well I thought the other day - (although I am not a fan of hers AT ALL) but she seems to have shut down for not being the right kind of race or not having had the right experienced racism - which is surely racist in itself? I was horrified and sickened by the murder of George Floyd. I do not feel personally responsibility or guilt for it though which apparently makes me a racist monster.

I’m wondering if i should engage in a dialogue with my friend about this as she has invited this but wonder if it wouldn’t end well.

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Melia100 Tue 16-Jun-20 06:12:16

Depends on the friend, I guess, but it sounds like it won't go well.

Imagine talking to an religious evangelical about your agnosticism, and expecting them to say ' have a point...I won't bother trying to proselytise you after all.' Not going to happen.

It's a similar dynamic.

FTMF30 Tue 16-Jun-20 06:17:39

I think these things should definitely be talked about. By the sounds of it, your friend has some good points, but so do you. Talking about it gives better opportunity to learn and better understand eachother's pov. If she gets shouty about it, just exit the conversation.
FWIW, I really do believe just not being racist isn't enough. That's why racism has long continued. Not enough people have questioned racial inequality and challenged things. It doesn't have to mean marching around trying to be some 'white saviour' 24/7 but it can mean having uncomfortable conversations.

InfiniteSheldon Tue 16-Jun-20 06:21:12

I'd unfriend her you sound nice, thoughtful and intelligent she sounds like a bigoted twerp one step away from sending you to the gulag

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Tue 16-Jun-20 06:21:17

It won't end well because your friend sounds exhausting. How much would you mind if you lost the friendship? How would your mutual friends feel?

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Tue 16-Jun-20 06:55:04

With people like this you can’t win, no matter how gently you try to engage with them. Their purpose is not to proselytise but out-do you in the tolerance and acceptance stakes. And these are very high.

I’d unfriended but if you can’t do that, just not be entrapped to engaging

RoughSeas Tue 16-Jun-20 07:06:37

NC because my SILs are on here and know my username.

DH is Jamaican, I’m White Brit. Been together 30 years with no real problems. DH is very interested in American politics and now, obviously, all that is going on after the murder of George Floyd. He watches a lot of news and YouTube and I started overhearing stuff about White privilege and White fragility and how all white people are inherently racist.

This bothered me because I love the very bones of DH and I was trying to think of any instances where I was judging him for the colour of his skin. I read White Fragility and Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race and watched some recommended videos on YouTube.

I really wish I’d left it alone. It’s opened up a deep well of guilt and shame. I’ve never felt uneasy or uncomfortable around DH but now I’m analysing ever thought and every action and every word in case I’m being racist towards him. He knows something’s not right but he thinks I’m stir crazy because of lockdown (he is shielding). I tried talking to him about what White people should do and his answer to everything is just be kind to everybody...

Over the years we’ve dealt with racist antagonism, more so when travelling than here in UK but there have been small incidents here though usually more subtle. We’ve always seen this as us against them and stood solid together but now I’m replaying them in my head looking for fault in myself.

I know that I’ve massively overthought this and I’ve even thought about divorcing him so that he can be free of me and my subconscious racism.

Sorry OP, I needed to get that off my chest. My answer would be that if you do decide to engage with your friend on this then be prepared. I’m one of the most resilient people you could ever meet and this has screwed my head completely.

Undoubtedly a lot of right-minded MNers will be along to flame me but I’m 65 and I didn’t grow up in this ‘woke’ world, my life experiences were not the same.


maudavery Tue 16-Jun-20 07:18:18

Wow @RoughSeas I am so sorry to hear what you have been through. This does make me wonder if the identity politics that wokeism is Founded upon in general is actually so pernicious and dangerous. It weaponises our empathy towards each other. It sounds as if your and your dh have a strong marriage and it would be tragic for it to be destroyed by this.

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maudavery Tue 16-Jun-20 07:18:47

The stakes are nowhere near as high with this friend!

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BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Tue 16-Jun-20 07:30:30

@RoughSeas I cannot imagine the conflict you must be feeling after so long with your OH.

Similar experience (sort of) with a friend of long-standing. I believe I treated her with respect and did her a kindness FOR TEN YEARS and she said to me to my face and in my own home that she knew all white people were inherently racist. Shock and disappointment doesn’t quite cover it. That kindness was something I had no obligation to do and it cost me time and money as well

RoughSeas Tue 16-Jun-20 07:44:07

Thank you *@maudavery*. We do have a strong marriage and I’m sure I could never bring myself to divorce him. Just getting it written down there has actually lightened the load somewhat.

When he says it’s lockdown that’s made me ‘strange’ he’s sort of right. Too much time to overthink and read and watch stuff that I should have left alone!

I spent many years before I retired in a large multiracial inner city school and I know the good work that is done. You sound lovely and like someone who brings people together rather than drives them apart.

dayoftheclownfish Tue 16-Jun-20 07:44:28

Hi OP, hard to say but your friend sounds like somebody who always needs a cause, to quell an inner need for recognition and attention. It's a common pathology in our times. I think you may be right about her reasons for being quiet on trans issues right now and it's possible she is overcompensating.

The 'White Fragility' book by Robin Di Angelo (a white American corporate consultant) has been criticised for its facile assumptions, here's an interesting review:

The book was written in an American context which is, despite the many connections, different from Britain. For a start, Asians are numerically a much bigger ethnic minority in Britain than Black people. We also have a very recent history of large-scale immigration from the EU.

If it all gets too much, you could just say to your friend that you believe in the importance of centering BAME voices, and that listening to your students and their experiences is your priority, especially right now in a global pandemic which is bound to cause more educational inequalities. (And quite honestly, it sounds to me as if you're doing a much better job working against racial inequality and racism than your self-important friend.)

Chiochan Tue 16-Jun-20 07:49:39

maybe point her in the direction of anything by Coleman Hughes on youtube or in Quillette.
This is a good start;

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Tue 16-Jun-20 07:54:59

Robin Di’Angelo featured in the Evergreen debacle and I have reason to believe her book and her seminars could cause brain damage

BovaryX Tue 16-Jun-20 08:06:37

seems to have shut down for not being the right kind of race or not having had the right experienced racism - which is surely racist in itself?


Precisely. Yet some people are not only giving a free pass to the racist abuse of Priti Patel, but doubling down on it because she's a Conservative. What does that say about them? As PP have said, your friend doesn't seem to tolerate critical thinking or independent opinions. Both are essential for a reasonable discussion. This Manichean certainty and this divisive, simplistic, reductive narrative that people are good or evil is at the heart of identity politics. My advice? Read an eclectic range of sources. If someone's idea of 'debate' is to immediately revert to insults? What does that say about the coherence of their argument?


That sounds tough. I had never heard of this book and googled it. Read the linked article, you might find it helpful. One of the specific issues raised is people in mixed relationships. Oh, and get this. There is a 'cure' for this condition. Proposed by its author. $10,000 for a seminar to cleanse you of your affliction. But you will have to take a trip to the US. Because this is an American export. Something the left used to mock as US cultural imperialism.*@annekathrynbailey*/5-reasons-the-book-white-fragility-is-shallow-and-destructive-7d8512616aab

SerenityNowwwww Tue 16-Jun-20 08:18:53

Anyone who uses the phrase ‘educate yourself’ or your need to be educated’ etc is generally a bully.

I don’t mind if someone says ‘have you read this article?’ or ‘this author is good’ but those desperate to ‘educate’ will never debate or discuss.

maudavery Tue 16-Jun-20 08:21:15

I actually recently watched an interview between Coleman Hughes and John McWhorter (the latter is a hero of mine from linguistics- I was interested to read his views on race)

I find triggernometry fascinating too

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BovaryX Tue 16-Jun-20 08:25:13

Coleman Hughes is such an interesting, analytical speaker, a recent discovery, thanks to a link from a a different thread.

maudavery Tue 16-Jun-20 08:28:19

Yes I agree but to call him analytical or articulate is a microaggression and covert act of white supremacy apparently

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BovaryX Tue 16-Jun-20 08:40:18

This seems to be a recurrent theme. Instead of a rational debate, in which ideas are challenged, or questioned, just demonize the speaker and then hopefully they will be cancelled, no platformed and ignored. The fact that the language used to demonize people has become so hyperbolic and removed from any serious political context is another sign of the times.

DidoLamenting Tue 16-Jun-20 08:46:14

I’m wondering if i should engage in a dialogue with my friend

No. Does she have any redeeming features? She sounds a nightmare.

FishAreAcquaintancesNotFood Tue 16-Jun-20 08:51:42

@BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted thank you for that post I've found it really interesting. I worry sometimes when I'm ranting about MEN that I mgiht be doing the same to dh which isn't fair and I'd hate to think he was feeling like you do. Where do you draw the line though? hmm

FishAreAcquaintancesNotFood Tue 16-Jun-20 08:57:16

OP I'd probably point out to your friend that she isn't any sort of authority on the black experience and that it would be entirely inappropriate for her to have white people get in touch to discuss their racism with her. hmm

It's largely put off my local new "anti racism" fb page. It appears to be white people out whiting each other over BLM. I do wonder why they didn't feel the need to start a FB page before this month..almost like racism didn't matter because it didn't have a twitter hashtag. These are the same people who only cared about sexism during #metoo or about the ONGOING refugee crisis when that poor little boy washed up onshore.

Sweetlikecoca Tue 16-Jun-20 09:02:43

Your post is so long OP. Overall I’m not sure what your complaint actually is you don’t have to comment or engage as such with your friend about the topic BLM.

About George floyd I just want to say briefly people care MORE about his previous convictions than somebody sitting on his neck. For me I’m not shocked that uproar has been caused RIGHTLY SO.

Teaching kids in a black/ethnic school is not really the same as having friends though. You have a professional rapport with the kids.

I hear a lot of people say they cannot support BLM (their choice) but when asked what could be done differently silence appears.
Ethnic people have drawn the short stick for years scroll through MN posts and you can read from what is written than there a lot of disconnected cultural people who probably are from a middle class background and have no desire to see things from other people’s point of view

maudavery Tue 16-Jun-20 09:07:16

@Sweetlikecoca I do have many ideas on what could be done differently and I have already started to work in this in my job- I am proposing further curriculum changes and data tracking of ethnic groups.

I'm not sure what you mean about teaching kids being different to having friends? I don't follow.

I agree with you re George Floyd. I mentioned this in my OP and have not said anything about his precious convictions hmm

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