No White Tears: A Non-Guide on Dealing with Microaggressions from Your White Partner

Hello, shining stars of the galaxy, I hope you’re all feeling cared for today. The protests and rallies in Baltimore, Philadelphia and across the country – due currently to the murders of Freddie Gray and London Chanel but the list of names is long and never-ending – have many of us feeling pushed to our emotional and cognitive limits. Many of us are afraid for our lives and the lives of our people. Black Lives Matter now and forever. I write these words so that we don’t forget the state of our nation even in the midst of writing articles about love and relationships. Everything is connected.

We do not write in a vacuum.

We do not love in a vacuum.

We love with the weight of our skin colors between us and our different physical abilities. We love amidst peaceful demonstrations and wars with bodies that have been and seem to always be abused and marginalized. We love each other across bulletproof glass and from different ends of the privilege spectrum. We love as descendants of enslaved peoples and the offspring of slave owners. We love without always having a shared language to bring our very different worlds together.

Artwork by Julio Salgado via Julio Salgado 83 dot tumblr dot com

Artwork by Julio Salgado via Julio Salgado 83 dot tumblr dot com

There are no handbooks for us. We see mega rich and shiny people in girl-on-girl relationships on the teevee, but many of us have little to no guidance for our relationships. We need all the support we can get. Sharing our stories is the easiest way to get the word out and help each other.

So let’s talk about microaggressions and acts of racism in our love relationships. I’ll start: I’m a queer Latina boi from the Bronx in a relationship with a queer femme white girl from the Midwest. This isn’t my first time dating a white girl. At 32, I’ve finally learned how to call yt (white) girls out on microaggressions and racist behavior. For me, calling someone out isn’t about gleefully shaming someone’s prejudiced behavior anymore. I’m more concerned with taking immediate care of myself and deciding if I’ll continue to engage with that person. The harm they’ve inflicted via actions or words needs to rest solely on their conscience and they need to rectify it. I’m not doing that for anyone, no matter how cute they are.

No, bb girl, I'm not holding your hand while you cry white tears. Srry.

No, bb girl, I’m not holding your hand while you cry white tears. Srry.

This is not a how-to guide; there’s no right way to navigate these situations. POC aren’t a monolithic entity in which all racist acts are experienced and digested in the same way, if at all. Nor should it be seen as another moment where a POC + yt person relationship is elevated above other interracial relationships. This post is an invitation to a broader discussion. What I have to offer is my experience; the framework of my understandings of racism and microaggressions in a romantic relationship are based on the aforementioned race dynamic.

Because let’s not kid ourselves, microaggressions can be experienced while dating another person of color. Although the dynamics aren’t the same, the situations are just as toxic and harmful to experience. Non-black POC aren’t above bullshit. Neither is anyone whose intersectional identities connect in a way that vibes more with the status quo. Like if you’re cis or able-bodied, ya know? To quote Autostraddle contributor KaeLyn, “People with more systematic privilege than you are always going to fuck up.” Word, friend. I’m just sharing some instances of microaggressions — because sometimes we’re not even sure if that’s what’s happened — and some ways to deal in the hopes that you will share yours and we’ll all be able to make it out alive, looking sexy and loving our hardest.


True Examples of Microaggressions Culled from Real Life and The Internet

Microaggressions: Racial microaggressions are brief and commonplace daily verbal, behavioral, and environmental indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative racial slights and insults to the target person or group (D. W. Sue, 2005).

1. Your yt gf is complaining about her Black boss. All of the complaints are valid but she uses language peppered with phrases like “those people” and maybe even wonders how her boss was deemed qualified to become her boss, maybe somehow all of a sudden she’s talking about affirmative action and you’re like “what the actual fuck is happening, right now?” And none of it feels right and what she’s saying reads like someone else’s tumblr post about their awful racist ex.

2. Your partner doesn’t understand why Black people, Native folx and people of color in general, can’t just react peacefully when their own people are murdered by law enforcement officers, the KKK, or deluded pro-America vigilantes. Also, they don’t see how a system that supports housing inequality, school to prison pipelines that disproportionately affect Black and Latin@ peoples, brutal holding centers for undocumented folx, among other disgusting social practices that are legal doesn’t always deserve a peaceful response from its citizens.

3. Without prior discussion as to what’s appropriate, white boo decides to call you their “little/sexy/hot, insert slur/obnoxious stereotype here.,” e.g. aren’t you my “hot little chola or tamale” or something equally cringe-inducing.

jlo attitude

4. You’re out socializing with your person and their group of friends. One of their friends says some out-of-pocket racist bullshit and your partner says nothing. No one even reacts. You react and then everyone thinks you’re too sensitive and shit gets awkward. You both leave early, together. The ride home is silent and your person doesn’t give you even a slight hint of understanding. Now you’re the girlfriend that none of their friends wants to chill with. And no one has your back.

5. Without any warning, your yt boo decides to share their secret obsession with “thug porn” or “hot asian babes” and you’re just like… wayment…

6. Someone not white was mean to your boo and she’s crying about it and feels victimized because of her whiteness. She wants you to make her feel better and to denounce the person of color she’s talking about.

7. Your latest primary partner posts all the appropriate anti-racist stuff, does tremendous amounts of social justice activism and schools other white people on how they’re bad allies and gentrifiers. But they often forget that they’re also gentrifiers. They often speak over the voices of people of color on topics of racism and oppression and gentrification so that everyone knows/hears/sees how anti-racist they are.

8. Tinder-date turned current sex-friend dresses up in their idea of Native American gear to participate in a sports thing or puts on a sombrero & mustache to celebrate “Cinco de Drinko” and doesn’t understand why you just can’t have some fun!

lucy liu eye roll

9. Just chillin’ with bae and they play the new Janelle Monae and straight up look at you, a beautiful Black woman, and say, “Funny how I’m teaching you about your culture, kinda, right?”

10. White tears are shed when yt boyfriend isn’t allowed to go to the POC-only party. They say it’s unfair and if there was an all-white party it’d be racist. You’re stuck trying to uplift yt boyfriend or bounce to the POC-party. Or both?

Screen Shot 2015-05-11 at 6.58.28 PM

Check out this dope diagram from the study on Racial Microaggressions in Everyday Life


Tips for Dealing With Microaggressions and White Tears in Yer Relationshiprhianna ready

1. Listen to yourself.
If there is any moment where you feel emotionally unsafe, don’t doubt yourself. Step away. It’s OK to pause, to shut that shit down, and to remove yourself. Not that you need my permission at all, but damn, I know that I’ve doubted myself in situations like that. I’m here to tell you that you’re not being too sensitive. Racism is real and is embedded in our language, interactions, politics, etc. and you shouldn’t have to tolerate it.

2. React however you feel is best. Do the thing that keeps you whole.
Only you know the nature of your relationship. Nothing I say here is going to fit everyone nor is it intended to. Here are some ways that I’ve reacted to racist bullshit in my relationships.

Image via flowerjizz dot tumblr dot com

Options:

  • Explain in under five sentences why you are upset and need to remove yourself from the conversation. I chose under five because that is enough information to give someone with respect to yourself and to them. (I’ve chosen to briefly explain things in the past because just dipping out of a convo cold turkey can exacerbate someone’s anxiety issues. Depending on the relationship you’re in, that may be something you’re cognizant of and give a fuck about.)
    Ex: I’m leaving. I’m not talking to you right now. I will contact you tomorrow. Do not contact me. If you don’t respect my boundaries, I won’t be able to communicate with you anymore.
  • With exceptional finesse, proceed to tell her all about herself and how she just acted a racist fool.
  • Excuse yourself without a word.
    There’s one Jay-Z verse that’s been my personal mantra since it dropped:
    A wise man told me don’t argue with fools
    Cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who
  • Flip the fuck out because it’s your right. You don’t owe anyone courtesy after they’ve dropped an N-bomb or called you any other racist slur.

3. Protect your energy.
How much energy are you willing to invest in this situation? If your partner is so with it that all you have to say is “Babe, your fucked up internalized white supremacy is rearing its oppressive head,” and lovermuffin is all like, “You’re right babe. I’m sorry about that. I value Black women and all women of color and really need to take a pause before I say things that don’t represent my value system,” and then actually does the work, then maybe y’all are OK and are really gonna make this interracial love thang work.

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 1.14.22 PM
If that’s not how it’s gonna go down, and you’re going to face mad pushback for protecting yourself and attempting to educate them, asking yourself if you have enough energy or want to invest the energy you do have in such an undertaking is a good move — a super good move, no lie. Your energy belongs to you first and you decide how you want to share or utilize it. Some relationships deserve careful conversations where both partners are OK with being vulnerable in order to tackle difficult issues. Other relationships can’t handle those discussions without devolving into abusive back-and-forths founded on faulty understandings of racial inequality or situations where one partner needs to be coddled and reassured by the other that they’re not acting in a racist manner. Only you know what kind of relationship you’re in.

4. Reach out to your people.
Who in your circle is going to be able to automatically “get” why you’re upset? Contact that person. Ask that person to hug you or to sit with you or un-ghost themselves on gchat and rise in solidarity with you. Find the safest place to breathe, whether it’s your activist circle or coven of hard femme brujas. Stay there for as long as you need. Vent. Vent. Vent. Get it out. All of it. All of that racist, disgusting, debilitating shit must be purged. Holy shit, don’t sit on your feelings, let them explode all over the night sky and fall into the ocean. Swim in that shit with your ride or die camarada and when you both make it to the other side, remember that being a warrior is in your blood.

Image via The Untitled Black Lesbian Elder Project

Image via The Untitled Black Lesbian Elder Project

Read books that provide connection to your truth as well as refuge. Read the works of: Assata Shakur, bell hooks, Michelle Alexander, Mia McKenzie, Janet Mock, Gloria Anzaldúa, Staceyann Chin, Kay Ulanday Barrett, Isabel Allende, and Celine Parreñas Shimizu. These are not the only authors and poets who write about race and social justice and living as a person of color. Find whoever speaks to you and dive into their words. Watch all the movies, and tv shows that highlight and respect your identity.

Online spaces are helpful too. You can vent anonymously on the Microaggressions tumblr. The QTPOC Speakeasy is always ready to hear you and offer love and support. There are other online support groups specifically for people of color in relationships with white people. Such as the QTIPOC Dating White People Support Group.

5. Remember that they have to do the work.
The onus isn’t on you to educate. Your partner needs to figure this out for themselves. Your partner needs to feel motivated to read books written by QTPOC about all sorts of things, not just issues of race. They need to seek out spaces led by Queer and Trans People of Color, sit in those spaces, and listen. Your partner needs to actively develop a value system based on anti-racist principles, not rely on you to provide it for them. They need to embody these principles in majority white spaces so other white people don’t get a pass when they’re with each other and so that the work doesn’t always fall on people of color.

With that in mind, you can make the decision to discuss things with them and allow space to hear what they have to say if you want to. I’ve chosen to listen and share insight because I’ve believed in relationships as a whole. Like, if this person can be here for me during my darkest hour, then I can provide similar support to them during their personal evolution. But not everyone is worthy of that type of support and none of us owe it to anyone.

6. QTPOC-Only
Some people choose to only date other POC and/or only other Black people and that’s OK. This isn’t you being weird and somehow proliferating reverse racism – that’s not a real thing y’all.

saving face gif

I’ve often thought: I’m so done with dating yt girls. They just don’t get it.

Other POC homies in my circle have expressed similar feelings and have stuck to them. They don’t date white people because their understanding of racism and experiences of racial inequality/injustice/violence is so frustratingly different and minimal that the divide isn’t worth crossing, not even for love. It’s also something that can make one question if our understanding of love comes from a conquered colonized mindset that has forced us to elevate and desire whiteness. And what kind of love is that then? Can real love exist between two people when the imbalance of privilege, quality of life, and just plain safety is severe and often insurmountable? Even love between Black people and non-Black POC can stretch the limits of understanding and solidarity. So, this is where listening to your heart and soul is of the utmost importance.

7. Grab yer umbrella and walk through the white tears
So maybe this gloriously f*cked up human is worth it. Maybe this thing between you two is worth salvaging and navigating the dark and hard places. And like, maybe they’ve been a bedrock of stability and support for your entire personhood and you want to walk through the storm with them. Ok, then. Make this decision for yourself, tho. Do not give in to pressure or coercion. So how do you move forward? Again, here’s how I’ve done it and continue to do it.

Brittany-2x15-brittany-and-santana-19980122-500-227-1-

  • Ask for uninterrupted talk-time. If they can’t do this, then fuck, idk what to tell you. But for me, it was a demand and not a request. Either you let me talk and tell you about how you fucked up on me, or we don’t do this at all.
  • Speak without apologizing for your feelings. Lay out the hows and the whys. Ex: When you said/did X, I felt violated. Your actions were rooted in white supremacy and racism. It hurt me and made me not want to deal with you. This is my truth and you cannot explain your way out of this or flip it on me. If those are your intentions, we can stop right now. We can discuss this in an honest way once you’ve apologized.
  • Allow them to respond to your statements and ask questions. You’ve made the decision to wade through this. Let your partner get out their weird/misguided or absolutely fucked feelings. Deal with what you can and be very clear about what you cannot and will not help them through. Again, if they start getting argumentative or turning things into a debate, step away.
  • Remember that at any time, you have the right to step away and regroup.
  • Share resources and hold them accountable for finding their own. I’ve sent links and shared books with my current girlfriend, just as a general practice but also during random moments of racial tension. I’ve also kept a lookout for when she goes and does radical awesome intersectional work on her own and with others. That shit is mandatory.

Ok, dip your hips and do the butterfly if you’ve made it this far. White supremacy is a motherf*cker, so is white fragility, which is what we’re dealing with when we choose to engage in discussions of race with yt partners.

Dr. Robin D’Angelo, a dope anti-racist educator, defines white fragility as: a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include outward display of emotions such as anger, fear and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence and leaving the stress-inducing situation.

I wish I had a term for the act of diving into emotionally distressing conversations with romantic partners steeped in white fragility. That shit causes some serious toxic stress. And if you’re someone whose identity is connected to multiple marginalized groups: trans, brown, disabled, impoverished, to name a few — as many of us are. The stress of microaggressions and acts of racism is coming from so many sides. To add one’s romantic relationship to the mix of unsafe situations is further debilitating. How dare we not have a word for that type of stress and emotional pain. Like, the fact that we don’t have a term says so much, right? Maybe we could make one up.

I’ve laid out some examples, some tips, links, and a huge chunk of myself here in this post. It’s not perfect but I hope it’s helpful. I’ve had moments in relationships where everything is perfect and then boom, something awkward and race-based happens and I’ve felt alone. I’ve felt like there’s nowhere to really go with this type of stuff and these feelings. I’ve wondered if I was being too sensitive or too angry, or if I need to leave this human that I love so much for safer racial pastures.

Again, we all come from different worlds with complicated intersections of privilege and suffering. Many of us need to check our privileges while simultaneously calling out the world for misgendering, misrepresenting and mis-everything our identities. This type of stuff is messy and complicated and makes us cry. But if we’re gonna do this and fall in love and stick it out, then we need all the help we can get.

I would love to hear from all of you. What types of racial microaggressions have you experienced in your relationships? What steps did you take to get through them? How did you heal?


To read more about microaggressions:

I could literally keep adding links forever. Please add your own in the comments to make our list stronger!


This comment space is primarily for POC to discuss this issue — if you choose to post as a white person, please be aware that your comment could be deleted if it’s unproductive to the discussion. 


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Gabrielle Rivera is an awesomely queer Bronx bred, writer, spoken word artist and director. Her short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies such as the Lambda Award winning Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City and The Best of Panic! En Vivo from the East Village. Her short film "Spanish Girls are Beautiful" follows a group of young Latina and Caucasian girls who like girls as they hook up, smoke up and try to figure sh*t out. She also freelances for Autostraddle.com while working in the film and television industry. Gabrielle is currently working on her first novel while bouncing around NYC performing spoken word and trying to stick it to the man.

gabby has written 102 articles for us.

173 Comments

  1. 0

    Wow, this was incredible.

    I’m white (and have never been in an interracial relationship), so I’ll keep this brief, I thought I’d share some links to some pieces about interracial relationships that I have found interesting/thought-provoking/insightful. Of course, feel free to remove my comment if you feel it’s not contributing!

    Guess Who’s Not Coming To Holiday Dinner? Overcoming Racism In An Interracial Relationship, on xoJane. This very thoughtful piece was written by an Italian American woman about her relationship with her family, with her Guyanese/Sudenese immigrant Black boyfriend, and with her own white privilege. May be of particular interest to white partners of/to POC. No comment section. http://www.xojane.com/sex/guess-whos-not-coming-to-dinner-overcoming-racism-in-an-interracial-relationship

    A beautiful and heartbreaking four-part examination of an interracial relationship between an African American woman and a white man, written by the Black woman in question, Pia Glenn, also on xoJane. The comment sections are mostly pretty good, but your mileage may vary.

    1. I’m Dating At My Worst And It’s Making Me Better: http://www.xojane.com/sex/im-dating-at-my-worst-and-its-making-me-better
    2. My White Boyfriend Is Keeping Our Relationship A Secret From His Racist Family — And I Think That’s A Dealbreaker: http://www.xojane.com/sex/my-white-boyfriend-is-keeping-our-relationship-a-secret-from-his-racist-family
    3. Two Guys I’ve Dated Have Blown Me Off And Then Thanked Me For Helping Them, And That Hurts: Part 1: http://www.xojane.com/sex/two-guys-blew-me-off (this one is not about the partner being discussed in the other three pieces; while interracial relationships are not its focus, it’s definitely relevant to the ‘you get to decide where you want to direct your energy’ idea)
    4. Two Guys I’ve Dated Have Blown Me Off And Then Thanked Me For Helping Them, And That Hurts: Part 2: http://www.xojane.com/sex/two-guys-blew-me-off-and-then-thanked-me

    Okay, hopefully this was useful to some extent. Thanks again for writing this, Gabrielle.

  2. 0

    This is wonderful. Incidentally, you give good advice for navigating emotional injury stemming from any relationship dynamic, but as a white person who grew up with white people and learned about other cultures predominantly from a book, I sincerely wish

    • 0

      …continued…sincerely wish that my friends and acquaintances address me bluntly and honestly when I expose my ignorance or any potentially racist thought patterns. I don’t ever want to be an asshole, and even though ignorance is no excuse, sometimes I really don’t realize why something might hurt. And if they don’t tell me, I can’t correct it. I love this article

      • 0

        I feel the same. This was good to read. I’m not currently dating someone of color but about half my relationships have been. I was kinda holding my breath through the examples hoping I hadn’t unknowingly done any of them. I would have felt horrible and would want to be called out on it and have a discussion. I would have wanted to apologize and work to educate myself. Thank you for this article.

      • 0

        Hi Kat,

        I get what you are saying, but speaking from my experience as a mixed race person, there are a lot of reasons why I haven’t/don’t always speak up.

        There have been times where people said things that were racistl, but the power differential was such that I didn’t feel comfortable bringing it up. Or, piggybacking off of what the author wrote about energy, I don’t always have the energy to invest in a long conversation that touches on tender parts of my identity where the onus rests on me to educate the person, or sometimes even convince them that what they said was problematic in the first place (not to mention soothing their anxiety/upset over the fact that I am bringing it up).

        So I would ask you, as a white person, to take further initiative in educating yourself. Look at the links that the author posted, read more by those authors. I know this might not be what you meant, but asking PoC to be the ones to speak up and educate you can mean you are putting an extra burden on someone who is already dealing with a ton of micro (or macro) aggressions in their daily life.

        And hey, as a conditionally white passing person with other privileges, I am also (perpetually) working to educate myself and make sure I am a good accomplice to folks with identities other than my own! 🙂

      • 0

        There are so many resources available on the Internet that explain microaggressions, with very specific examples, along with tons of articles about how white supremacy plays out in interpersonal relationships. That INCLUDES white people expecting people of color to do the emotional labor of educating them and calling them out. As a POC who has interacted with white people, I am 98% certain that if you have this attitude, many of your friends are tired of having to explain.

        Also, if someone does call you out, I hope you are thanking them for their time and emotional energy, and for sharing their lived experience, and for trusting that you are capable of change.

          • 0

            Definition of SLUR from merriam-webster

            a : an insulting or disparaging remark or innuendo

            Definition of WHITEY from merriam-webster

            usually disparaging
            : the white man : white society

            I think it qualifies.

          • 0

            Not going to say much else because I can see from reading around it’s not relevant to the intended discussion here. From what I can find from looking around any projective could qualify as a slur, though I agree there is a big difference being to being oppressed and merely being insulted. One of the links here lead me to a related article that summed that matter up perfectly. http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/08/racist-against-white-people/

          • 0

            Okay Lisa, let me break down why dictionary definitions do not do justice to the world we actually live in. Dictionaries offer liberal definitions of sexism, racism, slurs etc that are divorced from context. Whites and POC don’t live in an equitable world; words used to insult white folks, who are privileged, don’t pack the same punch as words used to insult POC because slurs against POC are tied to all kinds of institutional racist policies.

        • 0

          Yt is just shorthand for White.

          Honkey and cracker are terms that are intended to be insulting to white people, but they don’t rise to level of a slur because there is no history of oppression behind them. Slurs like n***** and f***** have a long history of use, by white people and straight people respectivly, as a means of adding to the discrimination against black and gay people. Derogatory terms for white people have no such history. Calling someone a slur is more than a simple insult – it is a reminder of (and a reinforcement of) their oppression.

          I am white, and no matter what a person of color calls me nothing changes the fact that I was born into a position of priviledge (at least along the axis of race) that I did not earn.

          • 0

            I don’t think the slurs used to describe white people compare to the n-word. But it should be noted that some of these slurs that are used largely by upper-middle class white people to describe poor, often less educated, white people- its not racism, it’s white classism perpetuated by white people. (Again, not saying the terms are equally bad.)
            http://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/550-trash-food

    • 0

      When 2 people are in a “relaish” (relationship) and one person consistently and persistently refers to their other by their RACE – i.e. yt, or blki, or grni, or grey-i, rd, or [insert color representing person’s race] get the HECK out of that unhealthy relaish. It spells nothing by trouble.
      Sadly this country hasn’t transcended race.

  3. 0

    I think this is an awesome piece. I think its also so important to remember that by talking about microaggressions and dealing with them head on it’s not calling out interracial relationships or an indictment of them but recognizing that they are a reality of relationships. How do I process things like the black lives matter movement if my partner doesn’t understand it fully and doesn’t understand some of the hurtful things she she about it. Things like that. Again well done Gabby!!

  4. 0

    such an amazing article, Gabby ~ thank you for writing it. I’ve got a white partner, & I really wish something like this would’ve been thrown in my direction in the beginning days of our relationship. he’s a lot better about what he says now, as we’ve both worked to educate each other. now, I feel like deal with MA more in my friendships, & that’s been really hard.

    another thing : I’m often confused by what constitutes as a micro-aggression. like, sometimes someone will say something to me (a friend, for instance) that makes me flare up as though I had just received a micro-aggression, but maybe it wasn’t that, just people being shitty & casually racist? for instance : I live in Whitelandia—erm, I mean, Portland Oregon—& there’s these stupid posters in the windows of a vacant building by my house that read “My Anaconda Don’t Want None Unless You Got Buns Hun!” & it’s an ad for this popular bakery around here. pretty sure *that’s* not a micro-aggression, but fuck, it feels aggressive to me.

    & lastly : never heard of the term “yt” until reading this post. scoured the internet for what it means, but only found a definition for web-speak (they say it stands for “you there?”). anyone wanna shed some light?

      • 0

        For me, it helps to think of microaggressions as an umbrella under which a multitude of sins fall, like appropriation, or white friends who think they’re so above reproach they end up sounding more racist than the racism they’re mocking or ridiculing.

        Like how many buns is that bakery actually selling, anyway, and also are they selling them for dicks? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that’s a marketing fail either way.

    • 0

      Regarding your final paragraph, I had never encountered the term “yt” either, and found little help via google (no I do not want to know about YouTube and Yukon Territory right now, thx!). However, my understanding from the context of this piece and Urban Dictionary is that it means white and/or whitey (if you say the letters ‘y’ ‘t’ out loud it makes the same sound as the latter). Hopefully someone will chime in with a better/fuller explanation, but at least it’s a starting place.

    • 0

      “white” substituting the “whi” syllable with a “y” -> yt

      I can’t speak for the experiences of the author or for the type of situation she’s talking about, but I here is my experience with a different type of uncomfortable thing with ablism. Most things that people say to me that offend me are not said with the intention of being mean. Its the extent to which it is said without thinking/automatically that bothers me- like their way of thinking is the default. Like oh yeah, obviously x is true. Its not “lets be mean to people with disabilities today.” Its underlying assumptions about people like me that lead them to say shit that is really fucked up without them considering how fucked up it is.

    • 0

      I actually want some advice. There was a short section about silence from your white partner when a conversation about race, or something triggering happens. She makes a point about having nothing productive to bring to the conversation. But It silence doesn’t sit all the way right with me. In a case this happens again, what do you think is the right way to talk about it? or to bring it up? or to even argue her point?

      thank you.

  5. 0

    I wish I had this when I was in my last relationship with a white woman. It was a hot ass mess but I learned to stand up for myself and not give in to the seduction of whiteness when white supremacy was so oppressive in my past interracial relationships with white women. Even now processing what it was makes feel better because I thought I was nuts when something was not right when white exes would say dumb shit but I would give them a pass. Now with those experiences processed it has been used to create really funny fodder in convos when the inevitable “history or your exes” conversations comes up.

    What made me say, “yes yes yes yeeees!” was the self-care and reaching out to other QTPOC. Doing that was pivitol to what I feel makes me stronger and realize my true worth and I don’t come second. The questioning and the taxing emotional labor that I used to do when white tears were present left me drained and angry. I now have a strong preference to date other QTWOC and it was sobering to realize that non-black QTWOC can also have very toxic anti-black sentiments. When I did date non-black QTWOC there moments when I felt alone and more angry because I was naive to think just being QTWOC was enough. Love is never enough and now being two (or more) QTWOC is never enough.

    I’m taking a break from dating *anyone* because I feel like there is still work to be done with myself and Gabby thank you for creating this! This is something I can use when I feel there is self-doubt and to always love myself fiercely.

    ps: when a white person is like “I only date poc bc white ppl are terrible!” RUN THE FUCK AWAY!

    • 0

      My ex wasn’t afraid of saying N* to me at the start. At first I was like, I know people are are racist from AL but we’ve come a long way. So I I gave a benefit of a doubt. One date led to another and I couldn’t take it anymore. I said I we have a child would you call him or her a N*??? What about if someone made of our child, would then protect them or tell them they are a N*???? It utterly changed their perspective forever. We had our differnces but they saw my point of view and embraced it that it’s more than vulgar language it’s powerfully hurtful and damaging. I’m pregnant with our first child and I know one word our little girl won’t hear at home.

  6. 0

    Thank you so much for this! I’m Puerto Rican but other people often tell me I’m white. Defending my ethnicity is insulting and exhausting. Recently I had a huge, blow out fight with my partner about Baltimore. I felt awkward trying to explain a situation I was not apart of. And as a non-POC, my partner didn’t understand/was angry/and unreceptive. They didn’t understand why it mattered. Why I cared. I wish I would have had this post. Thank you so much.

  7. 0

    This is just so amazing and perfect. When I first started seeing my white partner race was a lesser part of my identity because queer and POC I think seemed like too much in the south. Then I lived in a country full of other brown folks for two years and I discovered Autostraddle and realized that I could have it all. At first it was difficult and I think she struggled to understand my experiences but now she is much more invested in anti-racist work and receptive to what I have to say and feel. It can take a lot of work and support from outside your relationship is so important for that. I’m glad that an article like this exists now, and I also want to reiterate one of what I think is the most important points:
    IF IT MAKES YOU FEEL SHITTY THEN IT IS SHITTY AND THAT IS LEGIT AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR HOW YOU FEEL EVER!

    Ok, sorry for yelling guys, I get worked up sometimes. I hope I didn’t startle anybody.

  8. 0

    This was so so good. I work in publishing and read manuscripts all day and I haven’t read anything this fresh in ages. And admittedly I am a yt who has dated poc and we always have more to learn. Thank you thank you thank you for putting this out there. Eloquent and super important.

  9. 0

    “People with more systematic privilege than you are always going to fuck up.”

    My dad’s a fair Arab and my Mum’s brown Indian-Malay. Growing up, I could feel the microaggression pouring between my parents. The racial superiority, the fairer skinned privilege, the black and brown jokes, the small things, even little actions.

    I feel a lot of the aggression in PoC groups. I always feel out of place amongst a lot of them, my aggressions are usually so different and I feel these same PoC applying those similar micro-aggressions on me. I can’t belong to either race team either, so I even feel out of place amongst one of my own halves/quarters.

    I started a relationship with a QWoC and she was super awesome and everything, my first relationship (whoo!) and I was so excited but she’d never seen outside her race and culture, so she kept on saying some seriously microaggressive stuff, and I found her company so frustrating after she continued her appraisal of white culture, terrorising the Middle East and her all in all hate of Indian people.

    I worry I’ll be the microaggressor, hell, sometimes I meet hardcore QPoC activists and they’ll say something, it can be so small, and I’ll just crumble. If they can’t do it, who’s to say I’m not hurting a shit ton load of people with some of the things I say and do.

  10. 0

    So I’m whiter than aspirin. I’m grateful for this article. That’s all I can really say. Thank you. I’m glad I have the opportunity to reflect on how my words and reactions impact people. I am, once more, astounded by how much PoC, and especially WoC take on, emotionally and psychologically. This article describes so much patience, strength of character and conviction, and at the same time so much respect for self and others. I really thank you.

    • 0

      I guess I’ll make an amend here… The article had an angry tone. I don’t think the use of “yt” was respectful, per se, but that was kind of the point of the article, IMO. Like, PoC deal with so much just by being PoC. And white people are delicate because we’re used to white privilege. So I felt kind of like it was a test of patience, and yes I thought it was annoying and boxed me into a pigeon hole in the same way the author purports to dislike. But, like, whatever. The piece overall speaks so profoundly to how sensitive white people are to our own broken places while thoughtlessly disregarding others’, that I can’t tell if the author did this on purpose or not. I’m grateful for the article.

      • 0

        So I think you’re saying that you can’t tell whether or not the author crafted the “angry” tone of the article on purpose or not? Or perhaps whether or not the author intended to make white people feel uncomfortable when they read it? I think it’s worth keeping in mind that the author could have written the piece without specifically thinking about how to frame it for white readers *at all*–it is a piece that is written from the perspective of a POC for other POC. Conversations between POC can (and do, and should) take place without being mediated by white people or constructed with a white audience in mind, you know what I mean?

        • 0

          Thank you for your response, I did a mental *white opinions* gif/meme in my head.

          I think it’s important that when discussing issues of racism for POC the right and agency of our emotions are important. A lot of the emotional labor and taxing tip toeing in my experience was making sure I didn’t make white people feel ruffled, their well being was more important than my own. It’s pervasive and it took me a while to put me first. So again the “anger” is justified and then begins the healing.

          This is so exhausting, it’s ridiculous having to justify your existence all the time.

          • 0

            You know, reading this really made me really angry at what an asshole I’ve been without even knowing it. WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING I have probably done a bunch of these things, and my PoC friends haven’t said a thing to me because I’m white and they’ve learned to put me first because of it. That is fucked up. Not that I won’t fuck up again, but I am for sure gonna use this list as a guide about how not to be an asshole and hope it has an impact.

            I agree that the anger is totally justified. How could you not be angry?

          • 0

            I wish I could ‘thumbs up’ your comment a million times, bra.

            It messed me up so much to be in situations where people say racist things that have direct implications about my existence/humanity and then to be expected not only to be silent about it, but to not have any emotional reaction (or to erase/apologize for my reactions because they “didn’t know better” or “meant well”). I love what you said about anger in this context not only being justified, but being the beginning of healing, as opposed to a destructive/delegitimizing force.

        • 0

          Well, to clarify, what I mean is that to me I got an angry tone. I didn’t feel at all like the tone would be intentionally crafted for white folks, nor should it. I’m saying that the use of “yt” isn’t what I’d call a neutral reference to white people. It occurred to me that, given the nature of the entire article, if I were the author, I would not give two fucks about using a neutral tone because it isn’t about being neutral, it’s about being fair. And then I’d sit back and see how many white people came outta the woodworks talking about the injustice. Which is an interesting side-effect of an article like this, from my perspective. My white perspective. Which the article points out is all kinds of selfishly warped, and I understand that that is totally true. And to clarify, when I said a test of patience, I didn’t mean the author intentionally did that, I mean it really irritated me and it tested my patience until I got far enough into the article to understand that it’s typical of white people to be super sensitive to those things. I really gained a new perspective.

          So I just wanna say, my respect for PoC in a white privilege world just increases with every insightful article like this. I have no idea what it’s like, and I can’t. All I can do is say, “how would you like me to be an ally?”

          • 0

            And gaaaaaaaah I realize just reading my comment that I am still just making it about white people!!! What the hell is that?! Disregard, this is totally just evidence of the pervasive mentality that is ingrained in me to be seeing it from my PoV and how it will effect me, rather than accepting it as the article that is is!

          • 0

            As a reply to your comment about you “still making it about white people”.
            That’s a perfect example of the white person wanting to “learn” and be a good “ally” but still, because you’re / we’re white and used to it, taking all the space and silencing POC voices with our own, IN A SPACE MEANT FOR POC VOICES (as Gabby specifically mentionned at the end).

            Best cure for this : shut up and listen to what they have to say without feeling like your / our comments are OMG SO NECESSARY

          • 0

            Chloe, you’re right. I think the fact that I have more to say about my comments than anyone else says as much about my personality as my skin colour. I need to talk a lot to figure out new things. I know I risk getting a million eye rolls for every stereotypical white person “ally” thing I say. Without discussion, though, how would I know that it’s not okay to say that. And maybe this isn’t the right place to talk about it, but I’m commenting on my own comment, not spreading well-meaning ignorance across the thread. If I knew what I do now about public mortification, I probs wouldn’t have started my foot in mouth string. If it’s wildly inappropriate, the moderator will delete it, and that’s fine. I’m being genuine. Being myself means I’ll fuck up. Here to learn, just like everyone else. I’m just learning different things.

  11. 0

    Umm, so did a comment get deleted somehow? Something about not wanting to be in a relationship with someone who used so much”muscle” and this article being the problem with Autostraddle? I was in the midst of logging in to respond (positively towards the article, btws) but I can’t find it for the life of me…I’m going to be optimistic and think it’s a website glitch and not a moderating glitch.

    Anyway, what I would say to that person (or apparently the comment I dreamed is) that Autostraddle sometimes has issues covering race (often in moderating comments, AHEM), but this isn’t one of them.

    This is what sets this article apart from the other numbered article about babymaking:

    “This is not a how-to guide; there’s no right way to navigate these situations. POC aren’t a monolithic entity in which all racist acts are experienced and digested in the same way, if at all. Nor should it be seen as another moment where a POC + yt person relationship is elevated above other interracial relationships. This post is an invitation to a broader discussion. What I have to offer is my experience; the framework of my understandings of racism and microaggressions in a romantic relationship are based on the aforementioned race dynamic.”

    Anyway, comment or not, I thought this was beautiful and wish that I had read more of this type of stuff before dating, I’m becoming more and more aware how race, privilege, and oppression affect my interactions with others. I mostly deal with well-meaning white folk who want to tell me on first dates about how they have white guilt and this one time they were racist but felt really horrible, but they’re REALLY all in for contributing to the Black Lives Matter movement. And also, omg, it’s so cool I eat spicy food and I’m so colorful, and my skin contrasts so well with theirs!

    I tend to zone out and recite this poem by Dark Matter in my head: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02Fhg0sltks

    • 0

      Dear livethequestion, I think Autostraddle has either removed my comment or put it perpetual “awaiting moderation” mode, kind like a pocket presidential veto. That’s too. Bad, because the editors are doing a disservice to all readers by not letting us debate matters and disagree with one another. Race is an issue that cleaves American society. I think things are getting better, but we all have a long way to go. I don’t happen to find this writer’s (Gabrielle) approach helpful or realistic in the context of real relationships, be those between lovers or among friends and extended family. I think her admonitions to frequently, if not constantly, correct other people’s missteps and insensitivities (aka micro-aggressions) would cause those relationships to splinter and end, not grow in most cases. Analogously, had I taken such a hardline approach with my family about their initially really hurtful notions about everything gay, I would not have the robust and loving relationships with them today. People can change, but I believe one has to appeal to people’s better angels, not hit them with a corrective sledge hammer.

      • 0

        Did we read the same article? I read a gorgeous, thoughtful piece where one woman talks about ways that she deal with microaggressions and doesn’t prescribe anything to anyone else. That said, I have great, honest relationships with people who respect themselves enough to trust their instincts and who respect me enough that they tell me when I mess up. Why would anyone want to be in a relationship where they constantly pander to my white fragility, you know?

        • 0

          We read the same article, yes, but came away from it with very different impressions of its content and the author’s persona. Neither of us is necessarily right or wrong. But I do think this very different perception between us two readers is representative of how different tactics work for and on different people. My own experience is that love, self confidence and humor, way, not anger and expression of hurt, go a long way toward making the recipient open to hearing the criticism and doing something positive about it. You have cast the argument in terms of “micro aggression”, pandering, and fragility; those terms are meant to criticize and shame. I think there are better ways to go about helping ourselves build a better society.

          • 0

            “I think there are better ways to go about helping ourselves build a better society.”

            Well that may or may not be true BUT THAT ISN’T WHAT THE ARTICLE IS ABOUT.

            It’s not about how do we solve racism. It’s not about how do we change the world. It’s about how to POC take care of themselves and their needs in the fraught context of a romantic relationship in which the participants receive different amounts (or different sorts) of racialization in the world at large and

          • 0

            … (continued because I accidentally pressed Submit)…

            It’s not about how do we solve racism. It’s not about how do we change the world. It’s about how do POC take care of themselves and their needs in the fraught context of a romantic relationship in which the participants receive different amounts (or different sorts) of racialization in the world at large and IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP.

            Anyway I am white so obviously there is probably lots I’m missing, but this seems to be the basic gist. Like, it’s a self-care article, about an important and difficult issue. AND the fact of the matter is, marginalized and oppressed people taking good care of themselves IS a radical act. When the world says that certain people are not important or worthy enough of feeling safe and respected and loved and understood, and you tell the world I DESERVE THOSE THINGS, BECAUSE I AM A PERSON BORN ON PLANET EARTH, then how is that not helping the world become a better, and different place? (Again though, not the primary objective AT ALL.)

      • 0

        Please, tell us more about your incredible white insight in to race relations that the Autostraddle mods are depriving us of. Because none us POC on this thread realized that white fragility is real and y’all love to tone police anything we have to say about race and derailing conversations meant for POC with your white tears. We have heard it all and you trying to whitesplain racism to POC is hilariously offensive. And white tears, one more time, for emphasis, since you don’t seem to get our complete and total lack of fucks to give about what you think about any of this.

          • 0

            I would just like to thank you for trying to derail this discussion as much as possible. Truly. Well done. If only POC would respond to racism with cupcakes, flowers, and a shoulder for white people to cry on. Racism would be over and the world be a better place. I forget that’s how all of this works.

      • 0

        @voltairesmistress: Vigorous and open debate is important, but there is a time and a place. This is neither. Gabbrielle made it clear that this comments section is primarily intended for people of color, and that’s fine. White people like us already dominate more than our fair share of discussions. You are entitled to your opinions, and there are plenty of other forums in which you can voice them freely – this just isn’t one of them.

      • 0

        Hi Voltaire,
        Your opinion is of course yours. However given that this is an article explicitly for POC, I find it a bit misguided. The part I quoted is where it says pretty clearly this is about Gabby’s experience and what works for Gabby; I understand you saying this doesn’t work for you but that doesn’t make sense because of the intended audience.

        Here’s the thing that may be frustrating for you: a White person may never truly understand what POC go through. You can raise analogues and hypotheticals, but while oppression is connected, White privilege is a thing like no other and it is so so pervasive.

        • 0

          Sorry, typing things on phones is hard! So, anyway POC are dealing with this constantly, everywhere, whether it is lack of representation to overt violence to someone derail a conversation to be about shorthand for the word white. I’m a relatively privileged member of this community as a South Asian and I’m a teacher so I am a little more willing to engage but even for me it can get exhausting.

          Gabby’s article for me, is about healing and protecting for those who are hurt by moments of racism in their lives. That’s not everyone and it’s not you.

          Lastly, whether or not you do like Gabby’s style is on you, I do hope you read some outside links on microaggressions. They do have real, data based ill mental health effects.

  12. 0

    Thanks for the verrrry real writing. I’ve encountered exoticization for being latina from basically every partner i can think of, even my black partner now. It’s sad and at times I feel like it will always happen…thank you for the kickass possible responses to fire back. I’ll have to load them up in my arsenal!!

  13. 0

    I was in an interethnic relationship and my AA partner was bigoted both overtly and covertly toward my culture. I was not raised in a racist household so that kind of manipulation never occurred to me until I was skapegoated, abused, abandoned and defamed publicly. I would love to have the conversation regarding interethnic abuse more public, however I appreciate many of the points brought up in this article including surrounding myself with people of my culture, they have helped put me back together after interethinic prejudice meant to tear me down nearly sunk me. So Thanks.

  14. 0

    First, thanks for this Gabby, this is so important and I know this dynamic to be true even in movement spaces with white activists.

    Second, I’m guessing all of the commentators just read this entire piece and some of yall have chosen to focus on the use of “yt” like did you miss the point of the article?

    And just to be clear using yt will bring no power to us (poc) neither will it contribute to the inexisting oppression of white people. So get over it.

    • 0

      I read it as shorthand for “a complex individual with many traits but this is the focus for the purpose of the current discussion.” A very efficient shorthand in an article with a lot to say. Not something I chose to get offended about. Maybe I’m missing something. Wouldn’t be the first time!

      I try to be aware of what I say (as a white, middle class Englishwoman) and call out people where perhaps it is safer for me to do so than the targets if microaggression, casual racism and bloody minded ignorance. I do worry whether that is patronising or condescending. I’d be interested in your opinions on that.

  15. 0

    As a mixed race human, I’m guilty of using MA’s and receiving them. It really sucks to know you’ve hurt someone in a way that you’ve also experienced. But working though your bullshit so it maybe doesn’t happen again- that’s worth it, every time. White guilt is garbage; it doesn’t help anyone.

  16. 0

    It is weird as fuck being mixed and passing. I’m glad articles like this exist because I simultaneously experience racism and perpetuate it. It’s through articles like these that I’ve been able to learn how to moderate my voice so I’m not talking over people whose opinions and feelings need to be heard, and not to accept the weird shit that people sling at me because I’m half Japanese (usually something like “ohhh, I see it now! I thought you looked kind of exotic!”).

    This is a great guide for any interracial relationship, not just romantic ones.

  17. 0

    So I’m mixed, and white passing. It’s been weird for me, because I feel like the most ignorant comments I’ve heard have come from other mixed people I’ve dated—one was indigenous Mexican/white but raised in the middle of nowhere Midwest by her white parent and white stepparent, and she was…something else. Drove me up a wall. The other was Vietnamese/white but her Vietnamese parent was SUPER racist, especially anti-black and against Latin@s. And my significant other, too, was raised in the Midwest. She said some…fun…stuff about Native people and stuff, and it was really frustrating. At the same time, I’m sure I said ignorant things about her heritage without realizing it.
    The girl I’m interested in now is white, and super Southern, and it worries me a little bit. But so far, I’ve been super impressed with her antiracism and acknowledgment of her privilege.

    • 0

      To clarify: I meant these microaggressions occurred against me/my heritage, not just in general. I think I expect it from white people, although it can be hurtful/obnoxious, but I always feel blindsided when it comes to other people of color. So the element of surprise just makes me more hurt/annoyed/angry.

  18. 0

    Thanks for writing. Maybe you are dating the wrong white girls? I am white and I get it not thru experience but this is not new info for me. That being said, hooray for sharing education on systematic oppression that benefits no one but the oppressors!

    • 0

      Sorry but what?? This isn’t a space for any of us to claim #notallwhiteppl / #notallyts / #notallwhitegirls/ #notme. It’s a space to read, listen, learn and work to improve. As quietly and unobtrusively as possible. Because we all have some improving we need to do.

      (I realise the irony of having commented but nobody had responded to this and I was just so taken aback. Hope that’s okay.)

    • 0

      I totally get that upon reading through some of the more overt microaggressions, your instinct is to reassure yourself that these aren’t your specific fuck-ups. (Or maybe you have done some of these things and just don’t remember because it meant nothing to you at the time, I don’t know.) It’s often such a comfort to read of super obnoxious bad white behaviour so we can pat ourselves on the back for not partaking, except that it only distracts from the work we still have left to do. Maybe you don’t call POC lovers by creepy exoticized nicknames but you do interrupt them or engage in tone-policing etc. If you’re not a robot, you make mistakes.
      It doesn’t come down to the ‘wrong white girls’ versus the right ones. There are *no* white people out there who haven’t perpetuated this stuff because we don’t exist outside of white supremacy. Yes, some of us make fewer offensive comments than others, and we aren’t a monolith, but we all fuck up, usually in ways that WE can’t see.
      And this piece wasn’t written for us. Gabby doesn’t need us to chime in with asinine comments about how she doesn’t know the right white girls. She has dealt with white people for her whole life and it’s safe to say she has a better grip on white patterns of behaviour than we do. She didn’t wander into a KKK meeting to find white people who do this stuff. We ALL perpetuate racist micro-aggressions even if say, most of the ones I’m guilty of aren’t listed here.
      To draw a gendered parallel: you know when a woman writes a compelling list of misogynist behaviours she has endured her whole life and various dudes pipe up in the comments section about how they’ve never been guilty of #4 or #9? You’re acting like one of those dudes here.

      • 0

        After seeing that I was refered to publicly as a non-black person of color I had to go back and re-read this article, especially since it was written by a woman that identified as Latina. I am proudly a Chican@, Mixed Race, Latin@ feel free to choose an ethnic nominclature which comes with it’s own nuances regarding institutionalized racism and white supremist colonialisms. The writer does an excllent job of giving a variety of examples for all POC that are inclusive and not necessarily speaking exclusively toward or for a particular group. Thank you for not directing this toward just one group and perpetuating micgroagressinos toward us non-black POC.

  19. 0

    i’m amused at how up in their feelings ppl are getting about ‘yt’.
    it’s literally just internet slang. it’s short and easy and that’s how ppl write/talk online. especially on places like twitter (where every letter counts) and tumblr. relax guys!

    • 0

      Where I grew up “whitey” was used like “faggot”. So it invokes a lot of feelings of being hated without understanding why. I was a dirt poor, shy, bullied kid. The groups of PoC would add “whitey” to my list of terrors, while threatening me to stay out of their way. Difficult to relax. I read it the first time in that tone. I’m getting from the comments that perhaps “yt” is not intended to be read as anything but “white,” or that perhaps “whitey” isn’t intended to be offensive. I don’t think someone like Gabby would be anything but respectful, although I initially thought she did use it as a pejorative to elicit reaction, I don’t think she’d use something hurtful intentionally towards anyone on Autostraddle.

        • 0

          It’s embarrassing honestly and the definition of “my white feels first!” because although the person is aware they are taking up so much space to “sort it out loud” so they can ~*~*~*~learn~*~*~* KNOWING the collateral damage in what they are doing in their process to learn. Having to deal with this in real life is hurtful and sometimes deadly.

          I’m going to focus on reaching out to more QTPOC when things like this happen so we can heal and not be martyrs emotionally, physically and mentally bc some white person can’t help it, they need to ~*~*~learn~*~*~* at all cost!

          The cost is too high for me right now, too damn high.

          • 0

            If your lesson was learned, you would have stopped commenting at least six comments ago. Do your processing in a journal. Talk it out with a friend. Do NOT process here. Do not respond to anyone here. Lurk. Listen. Learn. Especially do not respond to me. Literally no one wants to hear it except yourself.

      • 0

        Ok, whitey could never be used like faggot. If anything the best comparison would be if you lived somewhere with nothing but queers and they always called you a breeder. The world we live in values whiteness in a way that makes your experiences completely unlike homophobic or racist attacks. Like, I know the white tears are flowing right now but your childhood traumas are not relevant to any of this.

        • 0

          Okay. Fair. Going off of memories that are 15 years old was pretty thoughtless of me. I guess white privelege is something I have that benefits me even at moments when I’m not thinking about it. I talked this over with a friend who explained it to me in laymens terms so I could stop pissing people off on the internet. I think/hope get why what I said pissed you off, and I’m sorry. (She used the breeders example too, and it clicked for me)

          • 0

            I’m a POC. I am friends with a white guy. He used to get beat up every day, as a child, for being white. Had no parents to take up for him. He’s in the minority here; the people who were supposed to take up for him in general looked the other way. You don’t piss me off talking about your experiences. Respect is a two-way street.

    • 0

      I find it interesting that you would phrase your last sentence so offhandedly…. As if white people are overreacting to what they feel was inappropriate, in a piece about racism, to a word they could easily classify as microaggressive towards themselves. These feelings the author discusses are very real feelings she has experienced but there seems to be a lack of regard for how any non person of color may feel.
      Since this article is about people of color experiencing racism, as a white person I have no right to feel offended by any derogatory remarks towards me. Also, you should look up the urban dictionary definition and decide again if “whitey” would feel degrading to you, especially when used by such an educated woman.

  20. 0

    “Can real love exist between two people when the imbalance of privilege, quality of life, and just plain safety is severe and often insurmountable?”

    Indeed. This truly makes me wonder if our society’s “default” — the hetero love — is just a big joke.

    • 0

      Right? And so many of the insta- or tumblr- or needlepoint-ready platitudes and banalities around love and friendships stem from that default – that they’re shared by straight white people luxuriating in the patriarchy, comforted by the life experience they confer.

      Of course none of them actually serve feminists or queers or POCs, let alone any combination of them.

      It’s exhausting to constantly re-frame the world to make room for us. I think I’d actually lose my mind if I had to come home to more of that at the end of the day, I really do, which is just more evidence that resources like this (and the Speakeasy in general) are critical to quality of life for QPOCs.

      More, please!

    • 0

      Yes, I do believe that real love can exist in this scenario.

      I am more interested in this question: what is “real” love? One definition is committing to your love person’s personal growth and well-being. That might mean not being in a relationship with them because it’s more hurtful than helpful to them.

      I have deeply experienced the case where I had real love and it was not enough. Love is not enough to make a relationship continue. Love does not transcend all realities. I don’t mean to sound like a downer, but am slowly gaining a more realistic framework of love.

  21. 0

    This article is phenomenal, and for a white woman like me, extremely educational. One of the things I’ll carry with me to try and be less of an asshole. Thank you.

    Also, while this was not even a little bit the point, this article helped me realize just how toxic my own living environment is right now. Kudos for that, too.

  22. 0

    BX STAND UP! I’m Bronx-bred too. Fantastic article. Thank you for writing it and putting this into words for me. I don’t date women white women but this stuff happens at work all the time. It’s hard to pinpoint or address at the time so thanks for the words to describe my feelings.

  23. 1

    “This comment space is primarily for POC to discuss this issue — if you choose to post as a white person, please be aware that your comment could be deleted if it’s unproductive to the discussion. “

    Please respect the comment space guidelines posted at the end of the article. Thank you!

    And thanks for the article Gabby!

  24. 0

    really proud of all the speakeasy folks leaving comments and sharing their stories in this thread. y’all are beautiful. thanks for supporting this work on the site. it’s also been quite interesting to watch the community as a whole engage in such a delicate conversation that requires much vulnerability and patience.

  25. 0

    Gabby, this is amazing. I feel like I can see part of your heart in this piece. This is such an important conversation.

    As a mixed-race person who is part white, I feel like I have similar issues in my family. Dealing with micro-aggressions committed by white family members (including my own mom) is fucking hard. This is a bit of an aside, but are there any other mixed-race POC out there dealing with this?

  26. 0

    Thank you for this, Gabby. I relate to so much of this. And your words are always so heartfelt and kind. I don’t know how anyone could infer an “angry” or “aggressive” tone from this article. In this piece that was so much about love. <3 you!

  27. 0

    Thank you thank you thank you for penning this article, Gabby. It is so mind-bogglingly difficult to make sense of romantic relationships- adding in queerness, race and other forms of marginalization leaves me in a muddled puddle. It seems like I’m discussing the complexities of this topic every other day with those in my QTPOC community and seeking words of wisdom.

    The examples of microagressions you provide are so real and so hurtful. I have let these slide every time in the past, because I never knew how to call the person out or even ask for help from others. I feel ashamed of myself, but know it’s not on me.

    I also want to give you plenty of SNAPS for pointing out that love and relationships between non-black POC and black folks can be hugely problematic. As a non-black POC, I need to be aware of how I oppress black folks in my life and actively work towards undoing those toxic behaviors and attitudes in my own QTPOC community.

    Lastly, in regards to the yt folks posting questionable comments being defensive, asking for things from POC, taking up space – back off. Yt folks please continue to step up and call them out for us.

  28. 0

    hey, thank you for writing this! i hope that this is on topic (and this is largely a response to #7), but i would love to see more content on this site regarding gentrification. from a perspective of a queer and poor person who can often struggle to find housing, but also benefits from white privilege and can take up space in lower-cost neighborhoods that are quickly becoming whiter and gentrified, it can be a little confusing to sort through. i don’t mean to justify fucking up or taking up space as a white person- i think that the issue you raised here is super relevant and important, and i also think that white people need to be talking to each other about these things and doing the work of holding each other accountable. but it would be so so so meaningful and necessary (to me, at least, and for my way of learning to understand what gentrification is and what my role in it looks like) to see a dialogue happening in a queer forum like this one that addresses gentrification as well as the intersections of identities that can play a part in the process.

  29. 0

    I’m white and I’m afraid that I’m guilty of being in the category of white people that are so critical of other white people that they end up looking like they think they aren’t part of the race or something. (Wow, that was quite a sentence.)
    I mean, often if I see a fucked up/ridiculous/racist situation I end up complaining to my friends about white people pretty openly. I make white people jokes (not constantly, just when I think they are actually humorous and spot-on) and I’ve always thought the “stuff white people like” sort of thing was hilarious. I post a lot of fashion/art on my blog and I make it a point to post models and artists who are POC often.
    But I don’t want my POC friends to think that I don’t know that *I* have privilege too, that I think that I’m “might as well be black” or something like that. It’s obvious to me how not to be racist, but not so obvious how not to be… I don’t know, too much of that person who tries to be super progressive and reassure people that I’m not as racist as the other fucks in this stupid state?
    I would love advice on how to navigate walking this line of being an ally and not self-righteous.

    • 0

      I just think maybe this is a conversation you could have with your friends rather than on a thread that the author has said should be a safe space for qtpoc to talk to each other? Like maybe the point here is that you swallow your anxiety and figure it out for yourself rather than take up space in this particular conversation.

    • 1

      Hi Jaycee, a big part of being an ally is LISTENING. Knowing that what you have to say about your whiteness may not be wanted or appreciated. Knowing that while you are on your own path of learning and growing through your experiences of privilege, it is not anyone else’s obligation to walk you through it or give you cookies for being a good ally.
      Try to examine the ways that you want to be validated or seen as a “good white person”— That perspective is still centering whiteness. White people making white people jokes and basically deflecting attention away from an honest self reflection of their own identity and privileges is a big part of the problem- it’s not self-awareness, but the exact opposite.
      There are two things that are super helpful for growing on your path and those are 1) step back and listen to what POC are saying, without speaking over them or trying to defend your intentions. Read as much as you can- the internet is an amazing resource, and there are some great authors listed in this article. 2) Instead of bringing your feelings about whiteness into POC spaces, find a white anti-racist friend, group of people, or mentor. Then you can share resources and help each other grow as white allies, rather than burdening POC with that emotional work.

  30. 0

    This was amazing. Those examples… oh lordt. As usual, you were so on point- I’m really thankful that I haven’t had to deal with navigating this kind of space in a long time. This piece would’ve helped me out so.damn. much.

    and caption game on. point.

  31. 0

    I’m posting what I shared on my FB page when I shared this article.I am a non Black person of color, who is really uncomfortable and steady thinking about the way we Latin@s appropriate AAVE. While there are some nuggets in your article, your use of AAVE is painfully appropriative.

    “There was a time in my my life I could have used some of these tips. I do want to point out though, that the author identifies themselves as Latin@ and uses a shit ton of AAVE. LIKE A TON. Which was uncomfortable for me. Bc of my own history with appropriation and little acknowledgement of the intense differences among BIPOC”.

    • 0

      I recall an earlier comment about gabrielle being from the bronx? or brooklyn? I’m going to guess this has something to do with where she grew up. I get what you’re saying, but don’t really think it’s appropriation when you grow up with that language…it’s just literally the language you learned. I’m a super super white girl (with a dash of latina) who grew up in a predominantly black neighborhood (also in NY) and I use a bit of it sometimes– albeit not nearly as much as this author. But, that’s how a decent sized portion of my friends from home talk. It’s a different story when you grow up outside of that culture and then think it’s real cool to incorporate “YAASSS” into your vocabulary…but from reading a few of her articles I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.

      • 0

        blaaah wording. Obviously you are growing up outside of that culture as someone who isn’t black. I meant *completely* outside of that culture. As in, this is not how the people around you on a daily basis talk. It’s natural to pick up vocabulary from the people you are around and grow up with.

  32. 0

    Ok, I am coming around to why comment deletion is necessary in some cases. I’m wondering if there should be link at the bottom of every QPOC article that says “Are you a white person who has questions, concerns, or feelings about this article? Here is a resource that may be helpful.” and leads to Google.

  33. 0

    I’m glad there’s an article on this, it’s a serious thing.
    And not to be the while girl making that one comment about how it can seriously go both ways, but. I’ll be that girl.
    ONLY because my ex was Russian x Portuguese and all of her friends were of tan skin, at the time I was actually pale and content with my lack of tanlines.. but she would hurl comments out like she had an endless supply of pebbles and a bad ass sling shot.

    I was always hearing how Latina curves are best, sassy (fill in the blank with something semi insulting to both sides) are sexier. Often told how I was actually too country white girl and told to get big city because those girls got it goin on.

    I actually thought it was a very bad thing to have white skin by the end of our relationship. And honestly. I think her shit stank more than anyone else ive ever been with.

    Micro aggression towards your partner no matter what side of the spectrum you are is such a no no. And I’m glad this was written. I know ive done it before myself without even meaning to. But just saying, I thought it’d be better if I were just Portuguese.

    • 0

      To clarify I’m not saying that I don’t believe I have white privilege, Lord knows a femme white girl has more of that going on that i could ever want dropped within 100 ft of my lap.
      But, what I was just trying to get at was the notion that as much as white privilege is painfully present… Its also really about the dominating ethnicity. I played minority for a year and a half. And it made me realize some serious shit about the way all micro aggression affects relationships and life.

      • 0

        “And not to be the white girl making that one comment about how it can seriously go both ways, but. I’ll be that girl.” If you think like this, probably it means you are sensing that there’s something not quite right with what you’re about to say. Then stop yourself and reflect a bit more, before you decide if it actually is the moment to focus on your experience.
        I’m sure this was disturbing in your relationship and fucked up dynamics, and yeah probably also could be called microaggressions I guess? But microaggressions also means to make smaller the existance of discrimination against the minority group, what is exactly what your whole comment is doing. So to say “I actually thought it was a very bad thing to have white skin by the end of our relationship” is shifting the focus away from the racial microaggresions that were discussed in the article. Imagine if you were constantly told it was a very bad thing to have the skin you’re in. I mean non-stop. To be told it’s so bad, your life doesn’t matter. When we have the privelege to “play minority” for a year and a half it doesnt mean we get the same experience of racial microaggression as someone who gets it all their life, I don’t even think your partners sexist behaviour can be called that. Your comment works as a typical avoidance strategy. I’m also white to be clear, and one thing we need to try to change is to always have the need to focus on ourself. This is because we are so used to being the centre, and expect to never have any discomfort in regards to our race, and when shit white people do are pointed out to us this reaction might feel legit but just stop for a sec and ask yourself if what was just pointed out to us is something we should listen to, understand and try and change or change the subject into something that concerns ourselves? Also, the headline starts with “No white tears”. We whities seriously need to stop taking space talking about how hard it is to be white.

    • 0

      Yeah. I’m portuguese-french and pale…and I get lots of nasty comments from other portuguese because I’m not tanned. Or stupid jokes. “Are you sick?”…”Get some sun, you look like a squid” LOL. Welcome to the flock.

      The main thing is when love exists issues can be worked out. People can communicate to each other about anything listed above and create rules that make both partners comfortable dealing with racial/ethnic issues.

      • 0

        Oh, multiply that by a thousand, and imagine being told that because you are not white you don’t deserve to even live in this country by a leading presidential candidate even if your ancestors were here before your state was even in the union. Multiply what your ex did by another couple thousands if you are african american where just everyone hates you.

        You just got a itty bitty taste of what POC go through every day, imagine just walking down the street and everyday people yell racial slurs at you in vehicles passing by and you just have to take it or they might assault or shoot you dead.

        White Tears are a FACT, PERIOD.

  34. 0

    Gabby,
    Thank you so so so much for writing this piece. So much truth to what you’ve written. I know that this article resonated with many people in my life. It’s funny how pervasive microaggressions can be, and how whiteness tends to be centered in everything (just look at the comments in this section, total microcosm as to how white privilege operates, who takes up space, even when it’s explicitly specified that this is a space primarily for POC.). While the article resonated with me completely, I was initially concerned posting it on FB because I was concerned my GF would be upset. Then I realized, once again, that I was centering the possibility of her fragility over how much this article means to me. And finally, as a QPOC, it was important to reflect upon how I can be the recipient of microaggressions directed at POC in general, but to simultaneously acknowledge that I can be the aggressor in all the other forms of microaggressions where I hold privilege. I think messing up is inevitable, but the focus needs to be on how to not to keep doing the same wrong thing over and over again. Lots to think about. Thanks again.

  35. 0

    1) As a mixed race queer with a white partner, this was great. Thank you. This is an on-going conversation in my relationship about the different power dynamics that exist between us, and it helps knowing other folks are thinking about this stuff.

    2) It would be cool if a white editor from Autostraddle could step up and create some sort of space for white readers to talk about this stuff together. It’s obvious that white folks on this site want to engage, but unfortunately its just dominating POC spaces. White folks need to do this work within their own community!

  36. 0

    YES!! This really resonated with me. I currently have a white partner (after many years of strictly dating POC), and many race related topics have come up. This post really validated my feelings as well as offered realistic advice about what I can do in the moment. It also reminded me that even though I identify as a person of color and have my own struggle, I must always be mindful and aware of my privilege too (Asian, hetero, cis).

    Thank you so much for your wonderful and thoughtful post! I hope to read more of your work.

    In solidarity,
    M

  37. 0

    Re-reading this after another painful conversation with my white partner about race. Today I told her that I’d had enough and walked away from that conversation. I think it was the right thing to do, but it’s still painful to hear such naive, microaggressive things from someone you love.

  38. 0

    Hey, just, thanks, Gabby. I’m white and have had partners of color and while I am pretty horrified by the examples of microaggressions listed, that doesn’t mean I haven’t fucked up, or that I don’t always have more to learn, more work to do. I know this article isn’t for me, and this comment space isn’t for me, but I just wanted to quickly let you know I’m learning from it and appreciate it.

  39. 0

    Wow! As a native Mexican woman dating a white woman from the Midwest I only got reassurance that she is a keeper. I think I’ve never been subjected to any kind of micro… no, nanoagressions; not from her nor her family and I am the first non-white girl she’s ever dated.
    Just to know white women, especially the ones dating interracially, would say these sort of things or would have these kind of attitudes… Leaves me baffled. And confused.

  40. 1

    Hi Gabriella,

    My colleagues referred me to this blog article on microaggressions. We’re psychiatrists. Since I am Latin American, brown skin and black hair, my take on this was given some extra gravitas. English is not my first language, but I believe I am qualified to talk about this in a clear and comprehensive manner. The first several paragraphs were fantastic, with the focus of love. However, you have objectified your girlfriend horrendously in this blog post. If you navigate to http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-objectification/ , you can see all the ways you have objectified her. 1) Denial of autonomy. This article does not treat your girlfriend as an autonomous individual; it treats her as a potential white supremacist. Writing this to you as another Latin American who has seen your picture, she wouldn’t be with you if she was a white supremacist. Occasionally, white supremacists date and/or marry white Latin Americans, not brown Latin Americans. Furthermore, the idea that she cannot look porn involving non-white people is racist; I have been the psychiatrist to a few female porn actors, and they are adamantly proud of what they do. The idea that there is a race that is off-limits to her in erotica viewing, is ridiculous. If she isn’t watching child pornography, snuff, or rape porn, it is most certainly really not your business, especially if you watch porn, too. Many normal humans view erotica, and many normal humans are attracted to people who are from different races, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is no reason for you to other your girlfriend for that. 2) Inertness: to you, she is lacking in agency. If her boss is a jerk to her, you identify with her boss instead of her, and mock her for crying. A few things on this. While we are all human, you are not African American, and, even if you were, you should identify with your girlfriend instead of her boss pretty much in all occasions. It’s not like she’s going to go home and say, “I was just a racist to my boss; sympathize with me!” It’s just as likely (more likely) that her boss is rude to her and that she needs you to sympathize with her. Bosses being rude to their employees is no new thing. 3) Fungibility: she is just another white girlfriend to you, and possibly too much to deal with because of her whiteness. This might be the most important point I make to you: your girlfriend is much more than the color of her skin, her sexual orientation, her gender expression. She deserves respect as much as you do, at this point more than you do. Furthermore, this idea of people sitting around talking about how they wouldn’t date any race of people due to perceived racial flaws, is ridiculously racist. I imagined a bunch of white women sitting around talking about how they wouldn’t date Latin American men, and was highly annoyed by it, and this is the same principal. You don’t want to date white women because you cannot stop tone policing them, and some part of you knows its wrong. If your girlfriend cries, it’s white tears. As a psychiatrist, I can tell you, everybody cries the same: clear. Not white, not black, clear. And if you as her boyfriend cannot cheer her up when you made her cry after a hard day of work, do her a favor and break up with her. If you cannot quit tone policing her and verbally abusing her and making her cry and then mocking her tears and using your blog to cyber-bully her, she would be better off if you two were not together. And if I never hear the term “white tears” ever again, it’ll still be too soon; her tears are just as valid as anyone else’s.

    • 0

      I sincerely pray that no one believes this “critique” is coming from a ‘psychiatrist’ who was referred by her colleagues. Like. Fa real.

      The entirety of the first few sentences committed the textbook logical fallacy of creating a false appeal to authority that would make the rest of their vacuous, uninformed, and insulting post more credible.

      “Rose” you failed. Come harder. Or at least more intelligently.

      And I say that as a blk, cis, straight (sometimes questioning) woman looking for resources on dealing with white fragility as a black educator hoping to protect herself and her poc students.

  41. 0

    I’m from Southern Europe. I loved immensely my black ex gf. I listened to her, never made assumptions based on racial stereotypes…and guess what?

    She called me white this and that all the time…made fun of whites. Was ashamed of me because I’m white. Yup, I was the only white girl she’s been with. I don’t care for race, I respect and I like to learn from people no matter what. But she just kept pointing my whiteness all the time. Like it was a crime.

    Never called her black this or that. It’s just rude…she even bashed herself for being black. And I was like…what? You’re unique. You’re beatiful. I love you honey.

    She was my first person ever. I was so happy, delighted to be with her. I was proud of my beautiful gf but she was the one who didn’t like my colour.

    Plus, she was more economically priveledged than me so…don’t go there either.

    You know what? White, black, asian…I don’t know who my next gf will be, but I hope she’s proud of me like I’ll be of her.

  42. 0

    I’m curious: why is there nothing wrong with a POC only wanting to date other POC? Is it also okay for a white person to only want to date other white people? The latter always seemed racist (as in personal racism, not institutionalized racism) to me, so I don’t get why the former is acceptable. I get not wanting to date a racist person, because racism is bullshit, but how is it okay to discriminate against anyone based on nothing but their skin colour? Aren’t we fighting against that sort of prejudice?

    I’m not trying to derail the conversation. I’ve legitimately been thinking about this all night and want to hear other people’s take on it.

  43. 0

    Holy shit, I’ve needed this article for the past year. I’ve moved through so many anxiety triggering situations with my partner and have unknowingly used so many of these tips and insights – because it’s just instinct to protect the gem that is ME. But, fuck if it hasn’t felt like one of the scariest things…to defend myself and my people from my love. thank you for writing this.

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