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The White Translator is not a show starring Ken Howard.

November 5, 2009

The White Shadow > White Translator

The concept of “White Translating” is specific to anti-racist activist type circles, though pretty much every -ism has its annoying collection of translators, sucking up all the oxygen and fighting for all the cookies.

You might be a white translator if…

1. You’ve ever started a sentence with, “What Kisha is trying to say is…”
2. You’ve pulled aside your white friends to apologize for Kisha’s “anger” and tried to placate them.
3. You’ve suggested a poc read any race theory book by a poc writer of their race for any reason. Trust us, we’ve done the legwork.
4. You’ve ever uttered the phrase, “I really wanted to speak up about that fried chicken joke, but…”
5. You think it’s okay to question the authenticity of someone’s racial experience simply because it doesn’t line up with YOUR oh so progressive ideas about race. (ie, WTs like black folks who fit the trope, but they get kind of stabby towards upper middle class black folks and constantly want to alert them to their class privilege and of course suggest it trumps their experiences as a person of color.)
6. You’ve used a hypothetical black person to demonstrate your point.
7. You know lots about race theory, read all the books, have all the tote bags, but oddly enough count no POCs as close friends.
8. Your anti-racism activism consists primarily of pointing out fucked things other white people have done.

The white translator is a special strain of annoying, and generally one of reason I don’t do anti-racism work outside poc communities.

I live in a state that is constantly talking about diversity and brands itself based on a belief in inclusion.

It’s usually in the running for the WHITEST state in the union.

It’s filled with WTs, “Allies” and all kinds of people proclaiming their anti-racism activism, which is so bizarre to me. Don’t you have to have some diversity in order to be able to brag about it? Hiring a black woman to be the officer of diversity (which seems to be the tactic a university or two has opted for) or keeping old ass pictures of long ago poc student on the splash page (is that a pair of cross-colors???) is not diversity or indicative of some bad ass anti-racism activism.

The other thing folks don’t get is *I* get to decide whether or not you’re an asset to dismantling racism, not you. I don’t care how many posts you write, agencies you work for or protests you attend. Seriously. don’t get butt hurt.

Get a clue. And shut the fuck up once in a while!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. redlami permalink*
    November 5, 2009 8:47 am

    Oops. I think I was guilty of #6 yesterday.

  2. November 8, 2009 9:14 am

    Best blog post title ever.

  3. Jae permalink
    November 13, 2009 12:42 pm

    I just found your blog through Shapely Prose, and I freakin’ love this post. I’ve been sitting here trying to think of all the things I want to say about it, but my brain just keeps getting frozen by the sheer perfection with which you described this.

    I look forward to reading more of your blog 🙂


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