The Culturally Competent Racist and Sanitizing White Supremacy

Often, when racism/white supremacy occur at a predominantly white school or in a work environment, human resources bring in “cultural competency” trainings or workshops as well as organize a day of  “Let’s celebrate our differences” .

Let’s be frank: the issue is not “cultural competency” (this is a sanitizing term) or the need to “celebrate our differences.”  Such a response to racist attitudes/behavior simply masks systemic racism and white supremacy; these are the fundamental problems– some happy day of celebrating “all the colors of the rainbow” will not remedy this. First, how about these places use exact and direct language and call it what it is: racism and white supremacy. Bringing in curriculum labeled “Anti-racism training” or “Systemic white supremacy literacy and intervention” unveils the reality of what needs to be dealt with.  Instead of simply focusing on “cultural difference” and/or “cultural competency”, require pragmatic interventions about anti-Blackness and USA’s white supremacist racial caste system, to name a few.

Also, do not tell me that the person who just called me “nigger”, says that “all Black men are thugs,” or has made the claim that I don’t sound “ghetto like most Black people” needs to be taught to have racial tolerance towards me; towards Black people. What I hear is, “Yea, HR knows that Black people are intolerable making it nearly impossible for white people to not lash out with racially offensive words or imagery when they have to be around them. How about we send you to a class so you can learn how to at least tolerate them and to not do anything that is ‘culturally inappropriate.'” 

I know my framing of intervention doesn’t bode well with the mainstream because of ‘white fragility'(white rage), but coddling [mostly] white feelings by implying “it’s just about cultural difference” when it’s about white supremacist racism is an epic fail . You can have a training that doesn’t individually attack white people but rather, shows how racism and white supremacy operate at the systemic and institutional levels. Making sure that the racial status quo “doesn’t feel bad” or “guilty” is ridiculous. Teaching about how a white supremacist racial caste system operates (from the micro to the macro levels) is not about feelings; it’s about justice and doing what is right. I repeat, bringing in cultural competence ‘experts’ is not usually the best course of action. Why…?

If a white person at work or in class calls a Black person “nigger” or posts lynching signs, they are truly culturally competent in the fundamental roots of anti-Blackness and white supremacy that the USA was founded upon. They are very literate in this. They know the right words or non-verbal actions to reinforce the white supremacist racial caste system that the USA uses as a bedrock for normative culture.

Let’s move beyond cosmetic diversity and towards operationalizing racial equity, social and restorative justice in response to racism on every level.

Now for some yummy kale chips to fight against the constant racial battle fatigue symptoms that plague thousands of racialized minorities in the USA that spend oodles of time trying to explain this (sigh). Kale is an amazing nutritional tool that helps me get through my anti-racism work through intense nutritional support. You’ll be hearing more about my project that merges recipes for racial battle fatigue, analysis of the ethical foodscape, and black feminist theory that is coming out next year: Recipes for Racial Tension Headaches….