alt. r&b singer/songwriter and ap alum kelela brilliantly unpacks racism, white privilege, and complacency in instagram post

September 23, 2016

Dark R&B singer and AFROPUNK alum Kelela took to Instagram recently to fire off a passionate and thoughtful statement about white folk’s responsibility in the dialogue about racism and anti-blackness. Step one—shut up and listen: “Tired of white people telling me what I should and shouldn’t feel. People who are not black need to be listening (not talking or making suggestions) right now.” Cue White Tears.

But before getting bent out of shape, white folks, over why your opinions aren’t relevant, it’s important to acknowledge and understand that the impulse that insists that your perspective is just as, if not more, valid as those of the people who experience racism. And that impulse is a symptom of White Privilege. Privilege that has always afforded you the opportunity to be heard and taken seriously by institutions and as an individual. A privilege many people of color do not have. And when you—White People—use your voice to silence/question/and talk over POC, you’re not only demonstrating the power of your privilege, but the subconscious belief that that privilege is rooted in a fundamental disparity of intellectual and reasoning capabilities between whites and POC. No matter how well-intentioned your participation may be.

“I want to tell you overtly that I don’t want to hear your opinion on what you think should be done,” the singer writes. “Giving your opinion at the onset of a conversation with a black person is rooted in the notion that we (black folk) aren’t able to analyze and deconstruct our realities that we haven’t thought long and hard about how to address racism.”

Kelela will be performing at our first ever Carnival of Consciousness in Atlanta, Oct. 14-16. Request an invitation, here.

By Erin White*, AFROPUNK contributor

*Erin White is an Atlanta-based writer and AFROPUNK’s editorial and social media assistant. You can follow her on Tumblr or friend her on Facebook. Have a pitch or an inquiry? Shoot her an email at erin@afropunk.com.