Calling out one racist doesn’t make white people any less complicit in supremacy

I always knew that I was black, but I did not begin to understand what it meant to be black until it was demonstrated to me: when I was nine years old, a white teacher called me “pretty for a black girl” as if she were talking about the quality of fresh tomatoes in February.

I didn’t tell my white parents, who had adopted me and chose to raise me in an all-white town, because why would I? What would they know? How could they help? They thought the world was changing and they fought for all the right things, but we never talked about race, so I didn’t think to tell them when a teacher made sure I knew that being black made me less-than.

There’s a special kind of anxiety and rage and resentment that comes with discovering your racial identity through the default lens of racism, and without the support and refuge of a shared community vernacular. Folks who see you, recognize your skin, give length to your cultural narrative, exist under and within that space W.E.B. Du Bois wrote of, behind the veil…