1. The #NotAllWhitePeople Person
Like clockwork, this person is usually the first one to bring up how NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE do whatever the specific subject matter is at hand. Whether it’s cops or ordinary citizens gunning down POCs or personal negative experiences being discussed by POCs, the #NotAllWhitePeople person is indignant about making sure everybody in the discussion knows this obvious fact. (Because obviously people can‘t figure this out on their own.) The person usually fails to see how racism is a system that all people perpetuate, but that White people benefit from at the expense of POCs. The reaction to this person is usually a not-so-gentle reminder of how institutions and systems work, while also reminding them that the system doesn’t exist without people in powerful positions to enable it.
2. The Colorblind Person
This person doesn’t see color; they are constantly talking about how “colorblind” they are. But really they are naïve and misguided. Here’s the reality – everyone sees color. And while this theory has good intentions, like many good intentions, it is still the road to (racism) hell. The thing with not “seeing color” is that you are negating that people’s experiences differ based on their identity. And here’s a fact of life – people’s experiences differ based on their identity. The colorblind person often does not even want to participate in race discussions other than to tell people that we should stop talking about race because it “doesn’t solve anything” and “makes things worse.” Colorblindness is a nice idea, if hundreds of years of history didn’t happen the way it did.
3. The “We all Bleed Red” Person
This person is BFFs with the Colorblind person and is somehow even more naïve. They insist that all these conversations about race are actually harmful and that we should all focus on the fact that we are all human. Which sounds like something that would be ideal if the world was a different place than what it is. Mostly this person will find every opportunity to say, “But there is only one race and that is the human race. Why aren’t we talking about that you guys?” This is the person that most people who are sincerely interested in dialogue always roll their eyes at constantly.
4. The One Who Thinks Race Conversations Should Really Be About Class
There’s a certain person in every race conversation and is oftentimes a POC in my personal experience (because yes, there are many POCs who also derail these types of conversations), who insists that every race conversation is really a conversation about class. Apart from the fact that race and class are intrinsically related in many spaces, they completely ignore the many experiences of POCs who still feel the negative effects of racism even when they have class privilege. And if you ever need a shining example, just remember that even Oprah was profiled in a Swiss store. But please tell us more about how every race conversation should really be about class. There’s a class conversation to be had, there is always a class conversation to be had, but it’s tie-in with racism cannot be neglected as this person so often needs to be reminded.
5. The Whitesplainer
The Whitesplainer is the one that gets almost everybody’s blood boiling. He or she is always trying to take center stage of the conversation while trying to explain to POCs how they should feel about racism, what they should think about a particular incident, what really took place in the incident and what should be done about it. Which is usually practically speaking, not a whole lot. The thing about the Whitesplainer is that they are so used to having voice and representation that they can’t imagine a situation in which their opinion isn’t the most important one in the room. They tragically have to be told that their “opinion” is sometimes just flat-out wrong.
6. “But Asians Are The Model Minority” Person
This person is a big fan of spewing stereotypes about Asians and comparing them to Brown and Black people in order to shame the latter. He or she often thinks they’re doing a lot of good by pointing to all sorts of false model minority rationale, in order to derail the conversation and belittle the common and different experiences of different POCs. But this person does a huge disservice to the overall conversation and negates the different experiences of different Asian communities as well as individuals, while simultaneously pissing every POC off.
7. The “Not Everything Is About Race” Person
This person will swear up and down that nothing is ever about race. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Donald Sterling incident or a kid in New York being told he can’t afford a belt of a certain amount, the “not everything is about race” person really wants everyone to believe that absolutely nothing is ever about race. It’s mostly a waste of time even listening to anything they have to say because their sole purpose is to change the conversation altogether. So you just throw a bunch of side-eyes their way while waiting for them to finish their beyond boring tirade that they can’t ever really seem to adequately prove.
8. The Uncle Tom/Uncle Ruckus
There is always one. There is actually always more than one but what is a race conversation without that POC who makes every other POC cringe in shame? This person never fails to agree with the disturbing notion of things like “racism is dead” or say something negating the experiences of another POC by claiming they don’t know what they’re talking about or the like. It would be quite hilarious if it wasn’t so obvious to everyone that they are trying to score points in the hope that they’ll be defended from all the big bad POCs who are always talking about race and racism. They are a staunch supporter of respectability politics and sincerely believe that if POCs just stop complaining and were “obedient” and follow all the rules, everything will be fine. And despite the fact that sooner or later this person will be reminded of their race identity, they continue in their foolishness. You simply leave this person to their own devices.
9. The One Who Just Doesn’t Get It
Don’t mistake this person for the genuine person who is simply trying to understand. No, that person is everyone’s favorite in the conversation because they are there to learn. This person however, has already made up their mind that they will never believe the facts – no matter who they are coming from and how it is being communicated. They don’t “experience” these things and often don’t know anyone who does so they’ve decided that it therefore just isn’t true. When you encounter this person in these conversations, remember this: There are people who still believe the world is flat.