On this MLK Jr. Day, white people, seriously, shut the f*** up

Like MLK Jr., I too “deeply wonder at the men who dare to feel they have some paternalistic right to set the timetable for another man’s liberation,” by how white people to this day also strive to intellectually and socially dominate and dictate its realities and ideology.

Briana L. Urena-Ravelo
4 min readJan 16, 2017

Rather useless white “allies”, leftists and liberals seem to have taken to disliking the slogan “It isn’t my job to educate you, educate yourselves” as it correlates to their problem with white middle America’s fall into fascist populism. It has to be people of color’s problem, you see, one for us to fix, else how will the situation in this country improve?!

But the reality is despite centuries of us trying, white people are the worst students, these white liberals and “allies” included.

I think of this today as I read something (of course mostly ignored) that MLK Jr. said in his lifetime:

On average, white people do not, will not, listen or learn.

They will say instead “Oh, I know, I understand!”, at best make rudimentary & ill-fitting comparisons to their own situation, ancestry or very superficial understandings of Black realities as if that is measurable to the actual reality itself and say that is enough education on the matter.

They quote other very famous organizers, artists, thinkers, activists or politicians of color they know only on a whitewashed or superficial level or random vague, philosophical and esoteric things at you, talk back, get offended, engage like they are your equals in the conversation about your struggle (of their foot on your face), all while ignoring what you are actually are saying thus establishing that they actually only see themselves as an authority in your truth. They believe, deeply, contained within themselves is a near divinely-given knowledge of the conditions of Black people under white supremacy and thus a divinely-given right to discuss and negate and challenge and determine its particulars (also stemming from an inherent lack of trust in the Black person’s ability to dictate this for themselves, and a deep, selfish, capitalistic and supremacist fear as to the conclusions they might come to).

The truth is, they don’t actually know what they are talking about, have never bothered to read books or articles or go to panels or workshops or discussions on the matter, and are not there to be educated. Instead, they paternalistically rant, insist, dissect, bully, demand and interrogate not from a place of empathy or education so as to be educated, but from a place of presumptuousness so as to establish their authority & intimidate people of color into changing their perspectives so they don’t have to bother breaking down and updating their own. And to them this is alright because according to them, this is a “discussion” (for that is how one discusses, arrogantly and entitled) & it is how they “learn” (AKA “establish they already know & are right”) which is to them the point of Black consciousness. They don’t have even the first inkling of an understanding of how tiresome, gas-lighting, demoralizing, dehumanizing and infuriating this practice is for you.

Even bring up their woeful and willfully chosen lack of scholarship and inherently lack of experience and insinuating their positions or belief come from misinformation, ignorance, bias and racism, thus questioning the “innately good, innately right, innately true” indoctrination & understanding of their perception is often considered hate, bigotry, and racism and will be met with upset, self-victimization, excuses, derailing and arrogance at best, and insults, racism, threats and violence on average. Just QUESTIONING them is, to them, on par with the centuries of oppression and subjugation your communities and others have experienced under white supremacy!

I have found that even many of my white friends only “agree” to the extent that my negress squabblings happen to align or in their minds even esteem or corroborate with their goodly white perception, it being an eternal mammy to the white imagination, but the moment they get questioned or challenged or outright told they are racist or wrong, the moment that I say “You are white, you can’t speak to this/understand”, the moment I insinuate their whiteness has no claim or power here, that I and others like me are the authorities in our experiences, the paternalism and inability to listen and defensiveness comes out. It’s really a mindfuck. It’s truly white supremacy.

If you are that white person, I challenge you to first thoroughly go fuck yourselves and then secondly practice saying “I’m not of color and so I couldn’t possibly know what that is like” and shut the fuck up. If it is a radical act for a Black person to speak out, it is a small but very necessary reconciliatory act for a white person to question their own hegemonic arrogance and back down and quit continuing on a legacy of thinking they know and understand best, better than people of color themselves. Esteem Black, Indigenous etc experiences and consciousness as enough, respect them as real and not needing your white (mis)guidance. Listen, listen, listen, because we are already talking. Humble and hell, even humiliate yourself a bit.

Enough with the racist assumption that you, white person, in all your bias and lack of education, are yet entitled to speak on our bodies, experiences and thought.



Briana L. Urena-Ravelo

Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email: Dominicanamalisima@gmail.com