Without White people qualitatively and quantitively transforming anything real

From “Silencing White Noise: Six Practices to Overcome Our Inaction on Race” by Willie Dwayne Francois III 

Due to white noise, many of us undertake reconciliation without first interrogating the meaning, assumptions, histories, and privileges of Whiteness. Reconciliation does not cost the powerful and privileged anything that alters the ways they show up in the world. Whiteness compromises the hope for true reconciliation when it hinges on the insinuation that Black people, and all non-White people violated by racism, should just trust White people “again” without White people qualitatively and quantitively transforming anything real.

Harvey writes, “In few to no situations of harm and violence, do we expect a victimized party to move to trust until there is evidence that the victimizer will unequivocally cease to victimize and thoroughly repent.” The kumbaya dream that race and the past do not matter – an expression of white noise – permits White people to experience the warm fuzzies. They pat themselves on the back while receiving higher wages, inherited resources, biased credit scores, and other unearned advantages. The unaddressed power and privilege still worsen the opportunities of the Black and Latinx people to whom they claim to be reconciled. Our pining for reconciliation speaks to our infantile imagination, telling us daily that the past is in the past and that future is a cheap manipulation of the present racial dread we have so long wanted to merely disappear.

Drawing on Harvey’s work, reparative intercession (1) recognizes racism as a social construct with material and discursive histories that impact personal and communal life differently depending on which side of White supremacy one lives, (2) accepts there is no universal lived experience in the United States, and (3) invests in practices that disrupt and repair the harm. Harvey purports, “If concrete, material structures created race and continue to give race the lion’s share of its actual meaning, taking history seriously makes it impossible to avoid speaking about perpetrators and victims, about the persons who benefitted and continue to benefit unjustly from these legacies, and about the persons who were and continue to be harmed.” When we confront the power and privilege baked into our communities and institutions, we will owe something. Reparative intercession involves a healthy fusion of speech and action – parrhesia and showing up – under the impetus or racial repair.