Stop Asking Me If I’m Okay

George Floyd was murdered on May 25, 2020, and we stand in unequivocal support of the protests and uprisings that have swept the US since that day, and against the unconscionable violence of the police and US state. We can’t continue with business as usual, which includes celebrating Pride. This week, Autostraddle is suspending our regular schedule to focus on content related to this struggle, the fight against white supremacy and the fight for Black lives and Black futures. Instead, we’re publishing and re-highlighting work by and for Black queer and trans folks speaking to their experiences living under white supremacy and the carceral state, and work calling white people to material action.

no justice. no pride.


I envy people who can open their eyes in the morning and stay away from their phone for over five minutes. Sadly, like most millennials, the minute I wake up I go to check my notifications. Since quarantine, I tend to wake up in the late afternoon. Usually I have a couple missed calls, some Snapchats, and different text messages from the same five friends.

Last week I opened my phone after opening my eyes and one text message stood out to me.

“Have you seen the news?”

How do you avoid headlines surrounding Black death when you’re Black? How would I not know what was happening? How could I ignore it? I was not upset at her, for reasons her and I already talked about, but the next three days my messages were flooded with “How can I be a better ally?” “I’m sorry the world is f’d up.” and “Are you okay?”

Are you okay

Three little words that were supposed to be full of love enraged me. Was I okay? Am I okay? Am I supposed to be okay? How could I be okay, all things considering. Those three little words were thrown at me continually over the weekend and into the week following.

Are you okay?

No. I am not okay. I am the farthest thing from okay. My PTSD is acting up. I have to actively remind myself my existence isn’t damned as a black queer woman. I can barely focus on other personal matters at hand without remembering all the people being locked up and harmed because of one simple thing — they don’t want to be killed. Wanting to live is a luxury for those with fair skin, apparently.

Thus, no. I am not okay.

Well-meaning white folk are just that, well-meaning. They want to help. They want to do better. They’re sitting at home climbing out of their skin because they want to do something and they don’t know what to do, so they text their closest Black friend “Are you okay?” not realizing how harmful a question that can be.

I need allies to stop asking me if I am okay, because I am not okay. I am the farthest thing from okay and there is nothing I can do about it other than post my feelings on the internet and sign petitions begging a government and country built on the backs of my ancestors to cut us some slack. Stop asking me if I am okay, when people are sharing videos of people who look like me, my brothers, my cousins, and my friends, being killed in cold blood. Stop asking me if I am okay when there are people out there more concerned about a dog than they are about attempted murder.

Ask me anything else. Ask me my feelings about Lady Gaga’s new album. Ask me what I want for dinner tonight. Ask me my opinions on Prince versus Michael Jackson, even. Ask me anything you want.

However, do not ask me if I am okay. Anything but that.

Brittany has written 1 article for us.

7 Comments

  1. It would be great to have a BIPOC open thread. I feel like so many current conversations are tailored towards getting white folks less racist instead of offering community to those of us who ARE NOT OKAY

  2. Yes! I’ve been messaged by so many white people this week and it infuriates me. It feels like they are drawing me into their performative white-saviour allyship nonsense, to the point that all the messages seems as though they read the exact same social media post (which, to be fair, they probably did). It feels as though I am expected to contort my feelings and experience into their narrative of how I as a black American person should feel right now (I live in Europe). It not only feels invasive and presumptuous, it makes me feel as though even in this time of crisis, I am still just a character in *their* narrative. My pain still can’t be my own. And I hate it.

  3. First, thank you for sharing this, Brittany! I feel you, and every time a white person asks if I’m okay then awkwardly doesn’t know how to respond when I say no it takes everything I have in me not to just start screaming.

    Second, I would also love an open thread, to be in community with other BIPOC.

    Third, are any other black people who are tired af of being asked whether we’re okay are also losing sleep over which white people in their lives have or have not been moved to action? As much as I don’t need white people asking me if I’m okay, and as tired as I am of seeing white people centered in discussions, my brain is (without my permission) keeping a running tally who who’s getting involved and being proactive and doing the work of reaching out to other white folks and it’s exhausting.

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