Whenever a non-person of color inserts themselves into and attempts to dominate a conversation among black people about the condition of black people, I have flashbacks of a time when enslaved black people would gather in secrecy to discuss those same topics in fear of being overheard. They were silenced, and disciplined for conspiring against their master. Since the arrival of Europeans on the North American continent, conversations about the futures of pigmented people have always taken place within their ranks. These conversations often left out the opinions of people who were the subjects of those very same conversations.
In the year 2016, members of the dominant social group continue to project their visions of Black Americans through the various social and political institutions that were created by them and for them. Often believing that their opinions of the Black plight should be championed or regarded as superior to the opinion of Black Americans. Though it is all oppressed people in America (Indigenous-Americans, African-Americans, Latin-Americans, women, disabled, LGBTQ, children, etc.) who are at risk of being marginalized even further by the decisions made by European males, it is the latter who often disregard the experience of lived oppression as a credential of expertise that qualifies someone to determine what their liberation from oppression looks like. This dualism of roles played by the European male is contradictory. How can one be both the oppressor and the authority on liberation theories?
Like the opinions of men on the topics of abortion and women’s reproductive rights, when it comes to conversations about the Black community inside of the Black community #WhiteOpinionsDontMatter. White opinions matter only so much that people who aren’t part of the dominant social group know the direction the dominant social group is trying to steer them. Some people aren’t so quick to place the entire white race into a dictatorial, paternalistic, colonist grouping and like to counter that notion by saying #NotAllWhitePeople. However, it seems that those white people are too few and far between to be recognized as a politically autonomous group that advocates on behalf of the oppressed, amplifying their voices as members of the dominant social group.
Not to discredit Senator Bernie Sanders – or any other white male – who sends a message that resonates in the hearts of many oppressed people and works every day to achieve a vision that is held by those people. Though the message would probably be much more powerful if Bernie were a member of an oppressed minority group speaking to the oppressive institutions and cultural practices that perpetuate the marginalization. It seems as if the successes of both President Obama’s presidential campaigns had not taught oppressed people that members of their group can win national elections.
White opinions matter when they are the majority leaders of government and Black Americans continue the 240-year tradition of backing white males as presidential candidates. Once oppressed people reorganize themselves politically and align their interests without influence from the white male dominated political arena they will find their own political kingdom. But until then the opinions of white males in general, who have long determined the fate of all people living on the North American continent, are disregarded within marginalized communities then those who are marginalized and oppressed will continue to have their voices silenced.
#WhiteOpinionsDon’tMatter and no person outside of the dominant social group engaging in conversation about their plight should be apologetic or sympathetic to the dominant social group.