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Recently the actor Orlando Jones, who plays Mr. Nancy on American Gods, posted a video on his Instagram. The video shows a white woman, Corinne Terrone, screaming racial slurs at a black man, named Eric. There was something he said in his caption that stuck out to me. "The issue is my white friends think they know more about racism than me... they know more about something they've never experienced than I do and we can't discuss how that's racist without them losing their minds."
As a white person, I 100 percent agree with him. In any instance in this world, where someone talks as if they know more about a struggle another is having without experiencing it, is playing into the problem as well. It is just like the many movies that are made to be viewed as a black person being a trailblazer, but instead, when watched in length, it seems more about their white friend that is their "savior."
You may wonder how a movie like that can be interrupted as racist or a white person acting as if they know more about racism than the person actually experiencing it. Those things are though; they play into strengthening racism. Why? Because it is playing into the long held stereotype that black people are not as capable as white people and that they are lesser. You may not see it that way, but it does. Just go and watch Seth Meyer's skit White Savior on Youtube and you, funny enough, will be a bit more enlightened on the damaging white savior trope in some recent movies.
Those movies are basically showing that, without that white friend, that black person would have never been as strong in their cause. When a white person talks as if they know more about racism than the person who is experiencing it they are insulting that person's intelligence.
These two things are real issues when talking about racism. I am not calling you a racist if you are someone who does act like they know more about racism than those that experience it. Just as I am not calling those who make those movies racist. What I am saying is they are racist acts; even though there was good intentions behind them, they still are what they are.
The only person who should have a say in how bad racism is are those that are experiencing it. It is okay and good to agree that racism is bad. It is okay and good to fight to end racism. But acting as if you know more is damaging. Making movies where it is shown to be about the black character but later it seems to be more centered around the white friend is wrong.
Think before you speak.
Think before you act.
I believe, in order for us to help end stigmas, injustices, and racism, we must stop trying to be the smartest and most informed person in the room. It is okay for someone to have more knowledge than you, that just means they can enrich you more. It is especially okay and to be expected that someone has more weight and knowledge on a topic if they are actually living the consequences to the injustices society has created.
It is important to let those who are effected by the struggle to be at the forefront, and for the rest to use their voice and support to help them. It is not needed to try to surpass them. We cannot sit there and try to teach a fish to swim when the fish has been swimming its whole life. Do what you can to not strengthen the powerhouse that is racism.